Washington National Cathedral is one the capital’s most visually striking buildings, and we encourage you to remember your visit by taking photos. And don’t forget to tag us on social media using @WNCathedral or #nationalcathedral.

We have a few rules to make sure everyone has an enjoyable visit to the Cathedral and its lush gardens and grounds.

Last Updated: August 2022

  • Amateur photography: If you’re wandering the grounds and snapping photos with your cellphone or personal point-and-shoot, snap away.  
  • Professional photography: If you’re a professional photographer (i.e., you charge for your services) or if you’re hiring a professional photographer (i.e., you’re paying someone for their services), you’ll need to obtain a Professional Still Photography permit.  
  • Photography or videography for commercial use: Not covered by regular permit terms. Please see the “Commercial Use Guidelines” section below for more information. 

Please remember that the Cathedral and the 57 acres of the Cathedral Close are private property and sacred ground. The Cathedral reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to withhold or withdraw permission to photograph or video on its premises, and to restrict the commercial use of photographs taken on Cathedral grounds. 

Professional Still Photography:  $250/day 

  • Professional Still Photography: $250

TO REQUEST A PERMIT: Please submit the information below to [email protected]. Permits must be requested at least two (2) weeks in advance of the desired photoshoot date.

  • Your name
  • Photographer name/company
  • Reason for the photography session
  • Desired date (must be two weeks in the future)
  • Expected shoot start and end time.

Once approved, you will receive instructions via email to complete your permit purchase.

A couple important notes:

  • A permit will not be issued until the date and time has been cleared with the Cathedral calendar. Permits can take up to two (2) weeks to approve.
  • All permits are subject to the discretion of, and approval by, the Cathedral’s Events Office.
  • Professional Still Photography permits apply only to the Cathedral exterior, grounds, and the Bishop’s Garden. Permits do NOT include the Cathedral interior, which may only be used for photography to commemorate ceremonies or life events that occur inside the Cathedral (i.e., for couples married inside the Cathedral by Cathedral clergy).
  • Permits can be rescheduled due to weather conditions or other last-minute changes. Changes must be requested via email at least two (2) business days in advance of original permit date.
  • The permit policy applies only to Washington National Cathedral, and not the buildings or grounds of St. Alban’s Church, Church House of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, National Cathedral School, St. Albans School, or Beauvoir School.

  • Availability and Cancellations: All Professional Still Photography permits are subject to the discretion of and approval by the Cathedral. At its sole discretion, the Cathedral and/or the Cathedral Police reserve the right to cancel any permit. Permit fees for the canceled day will be fully refunded at the Cathedral’s discretion.
  • Failure to Abide by Terms and Conditions: Cancellation of the permit activities without refund and denial of future privileges may result if the following terms and conditions are not fully adhered to. Purchase of a Professional Still Photography permit constitutes agreement with these rules and conditions. 

No services, parties, or receptions are permitted. Only the immediate wedding party or small group being photographed, and photographer are allowed. Changing rooms and access to electrical outlets are not available. 

Visitors to the grounds may not be prevented from viewing an area being used by a photographer. They may be asked, politely, not to approach, but once the shot has been completed, the visitors may proceed. No public area may be closed to visitor access. 

Under no circumstances will nudity or indecently/scantily clad persons be permitted on the grounds of the Cathedral. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed on the grounds, and possession of such by a permit holder or photographer will result in cancellation of the shoot without any refund. 

Visitors are not allowed to climb on structures, trees, other plantings, or walls. The gardens are a living, breathing space and the restrictions are needed to protect the flora and fauna as well as the safety of our visitors. Failure to abide by these rules will result in cancellation of the shoot without any refund, and guests will be escorted off the grounds. 

Photographs are NOT permitted on the grassy mound inside the Cathedral Garth. This is a burial site and it is sacred ground. Visitors are expected to respect the sacred nature of this space.

No photographer, photography, or commercial enterprise may expressly or implicitly convey the endorsement of the Cathedral for any product or service.  

The following are expressly prohibited on the Cathedral grounds: live bands, disc jockeys or amplified music; raffles or gambling; picnics or the consumption of food or beverages (except water); helium-filled balloons or banners. 

All photographers and visitors to the Cathedral grounds must abide by the direction of Cathedral staff and/or Cathedral Police. If a tripod or other photography equipment is being used, all photographers must remain with their equipment at all times. 

No materials of any kind may be attached to historic structures, plant materials, grounds or facilities. Equipment may not be set up within garden beds. 

The Cathedral is not responsible for lost or damaged personal property. Please do not leave valuables in your car. 

Parking is allowed only in designated areas, and all roads must be kept open at all times for vehicle traffic. All vehicles must be kept off the lawn and planted areas. 

The mass-production and sale of merchandise using Cathedral images is forbidden. The publication, public distribution, or public display of Cathedral images in any way that might imply Cathedral endorsement is not covered under the terms of photo and video permits, and is subject to separate written approval. 

The Cathedral does not typically pay for images, artistic depictions or reproductions that it has not commissioned, but it welcomes new Cathedral images and will gladly consider them for editorial use. Please contact our Events Office for more information. 

If you are looking to film the Cathedral in a professional or commercial video project, video permit fees and applications will apply. Please contact our Events Office for more information. 

The Cathedral is not available as a backdrop for modeling shoots, glamour shots or in any other way that can help you sell your product. If you still have questions, contact our Events Office. 

When taking photos inside the Cathedral, please follow these guidelines: 

  • No photography or video during worship services or concerts.
  • Follow the guidance of Cathedral staff and signage. Visitors may be limited in the use of photo equipment such as tripods or selfie sticks 
  • Don’t make another person the primary subject of a photo without their express permission. Many people visit the Cathedral for private prayer; please respect their personal space and privacy. 

Still have questions? Contact the Cathedral’s Events Office: 202-537-2234 or [email protected]