Seattle is known as the Emerald City for a reason, and that’s because there’s so much greenery around the city all year long. So when you’re looking for photo shoot locations in Seattle, what better place than at a park? 

Read on to discover five great photo shoot locations in Seattle parks for commercial productions. We’ve also included any permitting information you need to know before your shoot or production in Seattle.

Permits required for your photo shoot in Seattle

If you’re planning a commercial photo shoot production, then chances are you will need a photo permit from the relevant authority or owner. Before you start snapping photos in Seattle’s parks, you’ll need to contact the following relevant authorities.


A retro camera with a yellow sunflower

Photo credit: Marco Verch Professional Photographer on Flickr

Seattle City Parks

A permit is not required to shoot photographs or videos for personal use, unless the shoot involves a large group or setup that may disrupt the park.

Professional photo shoots set up by hired photographers or those planning to sell their photos do require a permit from the Seattle Parks & Recreation Department’s Event Scheduling Office. A fee of $30 per four-hour session at each park applies. 

Commercial photo shoots on any City of Seattle property, including parks, require a Film Permit from the Office of Film and Music. Apply at least three to five business days in advance, and at least 10 days in advance if you plan to use drones in your production.

For most commercial shoots, you will also need a certificate of insurance. If your production will require additional staffing by the Seattle Police Department of the Seattle Parks Department, then additional fees may apply.

Washington State Parks

If you’re planning to shoot at a Washington State Park, you’ll need to obtain a Photography Permit. A Film Permit Application, along with the $100 application fee, must be submitted at least 60 days in advance. 

Use of drones for photography or otherwise are only permitted in certain state parks and only with the permission of the agency director. Appropriate bond or insurance binder is required for all shoots.

University of Washington Parks

If you plan to shoot in a park owned or operated by the University of Washington, you will need to have a signed Location Agreement. The Filming Request Form must be submitted at least one month prior to your production date, and you must provide a certificate of insurance at least three days prior to your shoot. Fees for photography range from $200 for one to two hours to $1,200 for up to 12 hours.

Best Parks in Seattle to Hold a Photo Shoot

1. Discovery Park

Spanning 534 acres on a bluff overlooking Puget Sound, Discovery Park is the largest city park in Seattle. At this vast urban oasis, with tidal beaches, sea cliffs, and forest groves, as well as views of Mt. Rainier and the Olympics, you’re sure to find the perfect location for your photo shoot. For maximum greenery with a little side of wild, pick a forest grove that’s a little off the beaten path.

2. Volunteer Park 

Located in Capitol Hill, the highlight of the park is the Volunteer Park Conservatory. Modeled after London’s Crystal Palace, the pretty botanical garden is located inside a Victorian greenhouse and features five distinct temperate houses. It’s a lush backdrop for photo shoots. Time your photo shoot for July to see the park’s dahlias in bloom.

3. Washington Park Arboretum 

Maintained by the University of Washington Botanic Gardens in conjunction with the city, this 230-acre marvel on the shores of Lake Washington features seven beautiful areas for photo shoots. 

The Japanese Garden is especially popular. For vibrant colors in spring, head to the Rhododendron Glen and Azalea Way. If you’re shooting in fall, head to the Woodland Garden, with its large collection of Japanese maples.

4. Kubota Garden 

A historic landmark open to the public, this formerly private 20-acre Japanese garden features plants indigenous to the Northwest, and will provide a striking backdrop for your photo shoots, with its collection of plants, water, bridges, and landforms all working in a beautiful harmony. A kaleidoscope of color, it’s especially pretty if you have to shoot on a gray and rainy day.

Red bridge over a pond, surrounded by lush greenery at Kubota Garden

Photo credit: Seattle Parks and Recreation on Flickr

5. Schmitz Preserve Park

For a truly verdant film shoot location with a historical feel, head to Schmitz Preserve Park in West Seattle. This small park makes it feel like you’re not even in the city. Featuring mostly untouched, old-grove forest, it still largely looks how the area was back in 1851, when Seattle’s pioneers first landed in the city. 

Planning an unforgettable phoot shoot at parks in Seattle: wrapping up

This post is a great starting point if you are considering holding a photo shoot at a park in Seattle. The list of parks above is by no means exhaustive, as there are a vast number of parks in Seattle. 

In fact, the Seattle Parks and Recreation manages a whopping 485 parks and nature areas that cover more than 6,000 acres. Consider what elements you are looking for in your photo shoots. Then pick your park, and make sure you get your permit in time and are aware of any rules that relate to or govern your photo shoot.