Thomas E. Schmuki Photography

Phone: (954)439-1999 Email:

Photo Shoots

You need a permit for most photo shoot venues

Tom Schmuki1 Comment

I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to a venue with a model and my professional photography gear, began shooting and then being approached by a venue official stating we cannot shoot there WITHOUT a permit.  Here are just a few of the places I have been asked to STOP shooting:

  • Mid Town Miami
  • South Beach
  • Boca Town Centre
  • Bayside Marketplace
  • Hollywood Boardwalk and Beach
  • Haulover Park

Photographer Takes Photos of Town Hall, Is Arrested Under Anti-Terror Laws

A few simple rules of thumb on a very complex subject.

  • If you are shooting in a “Public Place” like parks, streets, museums, etc., your finished photos must not include any “distinguishable” individuals who have not previously signed a photo release.
  • Do I need a permit to shoot in public?  Maybe….. Contact your local government or municipalities to find out what process and requirements are as well as any fees you may be charged.  I have listed some of the local municipalities contacts at the end of this document.
  • If you are shooting on Private property:
    • You should receive written permission to photograph on the property.  The official document is normally called “Photography Property Release”.

Here are some helpful links for my photography and model friends: (Professional Photographers Association) has many sample release documents you can use as your starting point.

How to obtain an official photography/filming permit.

Each location and venue is different, but I would give the following general guidelines:

  •  At least 1 week to get permit approved
  • Costs vary, but expect for MINIMAL shoots at least $150, and the more the shoot feels like a production the MORE it will cost for permit
  • You MUST have professional liability insurance and normally provide the venue with a copy of that insurance
  • You MUST have a clear game plane of what, where, how, who to present on the permit.

A few local links to obtain permits

Miami Dade County:

FilMiami administers the online permitting for Miami-Dade County and City of Miami Beach facilities, properties, and most other local municipalities. We require a minimum of 24 hours' notice for permits, a certificate of insurance additionally insuring the county and/or city(s) for $1 million of liability, specific information on locations, dates and times, budget information, and information about any other special arrangements that might be needed.

City of Miami Film Office

City of Miami Beach

Greater Fort Lauderdale

Palm Beach County

City of Hollywood Florida

Bayside Marketplace: Miami Florida

Florida Keys and Key West

Production permits in the Florida Keys & Key West are issued without charge.

If shooting is to occur on private property only, a permit is not required although all production companies are requested to notify the Florida Keys & Key West Film Office regarding their intentions, whether on private or public property.

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

Gold Coast Railroad Museum

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

What is your other alternative

Be descrete, carry minimal gear, don't act like a professional, pretend you are shooting family, hide, dodge and don't make a spectacle.  All of these options are so very hard for me when I am the opposite of most of those things.  

Is it FREE, or What's the cost?

Tom SchmukiComment
Self Portrait taken in Gatlinburg Tennessee

Self Portrait taken in Gatlinburg Tennessee

What is YOUR opportunity cost, here is a stab at mine.

Why am I writing this article anyway?  One of the first questions I get from a photo shoot potential participant is what is the cost, or is it FREE?  These are the things that go through my mind every time that question is posed to me.

Here I go again writing a controversial article.  My college degree was in finance with a dual minor in accounting and economics.  My first economics class was a huge discussion on... "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch".  This lesson should be learned early in life and not as a freshman in college.  However, my discussion  of free will relate only to photography shoots which are done with models on a TFP basis (Time for Print).  Historically this term has evolved over the years and frankly has a different meaning to every photographer and model.  I do a LOT of TFP work, as many as 2-3 per month.  Let me digress to discuss the true costs of a photography shoot that I do, not to compare with any other photographer.  My opportunity cost of time spent can only be compared with my other occupation as a software professional and developer with over 30 year's experience.  Contracting rates range from $75-$225 per hour in my field.  I will use $100 in my opportunity cost calculation. 

Actual Hours Calculation

  • Shoot preparation, planning and preparation: 2 hours
  • Pack up appropriate gear for shoot: 1 hour
  • Drive time 2 and from shoot: 2 hours
  • Actual shoot time: 3 hours
  • Break down and put away equipment: 1 hour
  • Culling, Editing and posting images: 12 hours
  • Communication with participants before and after shoot: emails, IM's shot sheets, etc: 2 hours 

Total Hours: 23 hours @ $100/hour = $2,300

That is the number I think of when I decide on doing a shoot TFP.  It is a real commitment, and when I am committed, I do all I can do to execute EVERY time.  There is no question my opportunity cost in high school, college and at the beginning of my career is was much less than it is today.

So let's make more sense out of that $2,300 commitment to a TFP collaboration shoot. 

What is MY return on Investment (ROI)

  1.  Marketing of REAL paid business in the future. Value unknown but is REAL
  2.  I become a better photographer, better at my craft, better at everything
  3.  Participants return to me with PAID business
  4. Participants refer PAID business … wedding and event photography, head shots, model and fashion shoots, etc. 
  5. And most importantly, the FUN factor.  What is my opportunity cost of the real FUN and satisfaction I get out of these shoots. 
  6. The real internal value of a JOB well done, the value of a pat on the back or an accolade from a respected peer. 

If the intrinsic or real value I receive from items 1-6 does not come close to $2,300, my opportunity cost, then I need to re-evaluate the whole concept of TFP.

Not included in this COST calculation is sunk costs like thousands of dollars of photography equipment brought to a shoot and put at risk.  A lifetime of study, preparation and a gift from GOD to visualize, see, create and execute my craft.

This gets to my REAL point of TFP.  I would like to get rid of the term TFP.  I would rather use the term collaboration.  A true collaboration means disparate parties get together to create something they could NEVER have created alone, no matter how great their individual talents and skills are.  A true collaboration means each participant will receive compensation or benefits commensurate with their contribution. 

Models and Fashion Participants, I ask YOU to calculate your own true opportunity cost of doing a TFP shoot.

So, next time I am asked if the shoot is FREE, you know what is going through my mind.