Photo and Videography Policy

Photography by Patrons and Casual Visitors

Patrons and casual visitors may generally capture photography and videography within and outside of Kennedy Center public spaces, which include exterior grounds and interior spaces such as the Hall of States, Hall of Nations, Grand Foyer, and REACH Pavilions—any area accessible to the public without a ticket, subject to the limitations and guidelines below.

Unless otherwise stated, visitors may take photos within the theaters of the Kennedy Center prior to and following performances, and when on guided tours. In no instance may any artist, staff member, or stage scenery be photographed without express permission from Kennedy Center staff.

“Casual visitor photography” is accomplished with a single hand-held camera. Cameras must be self-contained, may not draw on Kennedy Center power sources, and must be operated by a single individual without use of ancillary equipment, such as a tripod or external lights. Pedestrian traffic may not be blocked at any point.

All visitors must comply with requests and directions from Kennedy Center security personnel, ushers, or other identified Kennedy Center staff.

Activities prohibited under the “casual visitor photography” policy include:

  • Photography and videography during performances, unless otherwise stated via signage or by Kennedy Center staff.
  • Photography that requires professional equipment or any equipment beyond a hand-held camera, such as lenses of 5” or greater, ladders, tripods, and other ancillaries.
  • Commercial and media photography, which requires prior written approval from the Kennedy Center (see below for additional details regarding commercial and media photography).
  • Photography that may attract a crowd or may otherwise materially interfere with other patrons’ enjoyment of the public spaces.
  • Photography that includes groups of more than 10 people.
  • Furniture, ropes and stanchions, and other Kennedy Center property may not be moved to accommodate photography, nor may they be used as props.
  • Visitors may not bring large props, furniture, rugs, plants, or other staging into the Kennedy Center for use in photography.

Formal Public Photography

From time to time, individuals may wish to use the Kennedy Center as a public location for personal photos, such as engagement or wedding photos, family photos, or similar special occasions. Broadly, the same policies that apply to casual visitor photography apply to event photography.

Those considering using the Center for event photography should be aware that the Kennedy Center does not allow groups to reserve or otherwise impede access to any public space. ݮƵѰapp is a busy, active, and dynamic space, with many public and private events and thousands of visitors on any given day, and the availability of any location at the Kennedy Center is subject to change without notice. In addition, please consider the following:

  • Public space is shared space at all times. Photographers may not direct or otherwise interfere with other visitors’ enjoyment of public spaces.
  • Public spaces may, at any time, be closed without advanced notice.
  • ݮƵѰapp opens daily at 10 a.m. Outdoor photos on the Kennedy Center campus may be taken outside as early as 7 a.m. and as late as midnight.
  • All visitors must comply with requests and directions from Kennedy Center security personnel, ushers, or other identified Kennedy Center staff.
  • It is strongly recommended that visitors check the Kennedy Center calendar as to what performances may be happening on any given day. Visitors should be aware, however, that not all events are included in the daily calendar and all listings are subject to change.

Professional, Commercial, and Business Photography

News Media Covering a Kennedy Center
Artist, Performance, or Activity:

ݮƵѰapp generally permits photography in public spaces by bona fide news organizations that are on assignment to cover a Kennedy Center artist, performance, or related activity. News media must obtain prior approval for news coverage that does not require an additional agreement, at least 24 hours[1] in advance from the Kennedy Center Public Relations team, who will facilitate arrangements so as to ensure a positive experience for the news organization, artists, and patrons. All equipment must be self-contained and battery operated, and tripods may be acceptable, provided that they do not interfere with the patron experience. Please contact the Kennedy Center PR team for questions regarding photography during rehearsals and performances. News media must be staffed by a member of the Kennedy Center Public Relations staff at all times.

News Media Seeking Location Shoots for Coverage
Not Related to the Kennedy Center:

In general, the Kennedy Center is unable to accommodate media requests not directly related to its mission as a performing arts center and living memorial. ݮƵѰapp Public Relations team will consider and respond to all requests received at least three (3) weeks in advance of the intended shoot date. In instances where the Kennedy Center is able to accommodate media requests not directly related to the Center’s work, a location agreement and fee may be required as described further below. 

News media may contact the Kennedy Center Public Relations team for more information at [email protected].

Documentary and/or Commercial Photography/Videography, Including Location Shoots

Any request for access to public spaces, backstage areas, theaters, or other non-public spaces of the Kennedy Center that are not directly related to the Kennedy Center’s mission as a performing arts center and living memorial shall fall into this category. Please allow at least three (3) weeks for approval of such requests and be mindful of the distinctions or other deadlines below.

When the Kennedy Center is able to accommodate a commercial request, a location agreement will be required that will outline how the Kennedy Center’s image and name may be used and the appropriate location fee that will be required to cover administrative and other costs associated with the activity. Under no circumstances may it be suggested or implied that the Kennedy Center endorses or otherwise has an affiliation or relationship with a person, product or idea and the Kennedy Center reserves the right to request a disclaimer in its sole discretion.

Documentary Shoots Related to Kennedy Center and/or Presented Artists:

ݮƵѰapp will make reasonable efforts to accommodate requests from news media or other producers to capture footage related to documentary (short or long form) and news magazine productions which are directly related to artists performing at the Kennedy Center as part of the Kennedy Center’s programming, or which otherwise have a nexus to the Kennedy Center as the national center for the performing arts or as a presidential memorial. ݮƵѰapp shall determine in its sole discretion whether such nexus applies.

Documentary and/or Commercial Shoots Unrelated to Kennedy Center or Presented Artists:

Except in very limited circumstances, the Kennedy Center is unable to accommodate commercial photography and videography requests not directly related to its mission as a performing arts center and as a living memorial. ݮƵѰapp will evaluate requests for such activities that are received at least three (3) weeks in advance of the proposed date and reserves the right to approve or deny such requests in its sole discretion.

If you wish to apply for a location agreement to support commercial photography or videography at the Kennedy Center, please complete our Licensing and Location Agreement form. ݮƵѰapp Public Relations team will consider and respond to all requests received at least three weeks in advance of the intended shoot date.

[1] Note that filming for documentaries, whether for news magazine or long-form, or any requests for backstage access, artist interviews, or other non-performance footage, may be treated as a location shoot requiring additional notice as described herein.

Artists, Licensees, and Artistic Partners

Requests for photography and/or recording on behalf of artists and artistic partners performing at the Kennedy Center, and special events are not covered by this above policy. Any photography or video requests from Kennedy Center artists, licensees, and artistic partners should be made through the applicable programming or licensing department at least one (1) week prior to the scheduled performance.