One of two commercial wedding photography companies, operating on Kaua‘i, has deleted promotional photos on its website at the direction of the DLNR Division of State Parks.
Two photography companies received cease-and-desist-orders from DSP last week, after multiple complaints from other photography companies and the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau. The complaints revolve around wedding photography happening without permits and/or in closed areas where commercial activity is banned.
DSP Assistant Administrator Alan Carpenter advised that if promotional photos that were likely taken in closed areas were not taken down, it would make it difficult to consider issuing permits for future work on lands under DSP jurisdiction.
One photography company explained that some of the photos on their website had been featured for several years. The company also acknowledged that an officer from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement warned the company in January to refrain from further unpermitted commercial activity. At that time, the company was advised that certain areas in State Parks and State Forest Reserves are closed, and Department officials say they’ve been in compliance since.
Carpenter agreed that state and county rules governing not only photography, but many other commercial activities under the jurisdiction of DLNR divisions can be confusing and unclear.
“We’re the least-staffed state park system in the nation, though we are No. 20 in terms of visitation and this has impacts on our ability to enforce our rules, protect natural and cultural sites, and to protect park visitors. With the return of visitors and new fee structures in place, in the coming year’s DSP hopes to dedicate more staff resources to addressing unpermitted commercial activities.”
Owners of one photography company told Carpenter during a virtual “scrubbing” of the company’s website, “We never had any intention of not cooperating with you. Our standing with you is how we feed our family. We want to make sure that we are on the same page.”
DSP did not receive a response from the other photography company, which is based out of Washington. The company advertises “elopement adventure photography” in several western states. However, the company’s hyperlink to its Kaua‘i adventures has been disabled.
Carpenter added, “Our intent is not to shut down any commercial venture, but to make sure the playing field is level. Many commercial photographers on Kaua‘i and around the state get required permits and follow the rules. It’s not fair to them, fair to couples searching for wedding photographers, or fair to people visiting our State Parks to have a double-standard.”
Department officials say additional photographers, who it’s believed, have shot in closed areas or without permits will be receiving cease-and-desist orders and it’s hoped they will voluntarily comply by ceasing their activities and by deleting promotional or advertising photos that were taken illegally.
DSP is also working with the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau, other DLNR divisions, and the State Film Office to review and clarify film permitting rules and to stage a virtual seminar for photographers on what’s allowed, what’s not, and how to apply for county and state commercial photography permits.