Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) encourages the use of its parks for recreational, publicity and commercial photography. To make everyone's (i.e., the photographer and his/her clients, as well as our other park patrons) visit enjoyable, please follow all park rules and keep in mind that our park is a public site and may not be reserved for exclusive use.
For safety reasons, please note that photos cannot be taken:
  1. Under the mill
  2. On or near the mill dam
  3. Beyond the wooden arm located near the mill's waterwheel
  4. Closer than 20 feet from the waterwheel
  5. On any areas that have restricted access signs or chains
  6. Off trail

Where are you allowed to go around the historic mill?

View a map of the mill area here.


All photographers or videographers working with clients and other groups of people and/or conducting photographic or videographic sessions are required to obtain a permit with staff and obtain an "Approved Photographer" badge before starting their photo shoot. Once registered, photographers/videographers will be approved for one calendar year.


The Photographer Permit App FINAL_2018.pdfPermit Form is available both in the park and online. The form will need to be physically signed off on in front of park staff at the visitor center (i.e., the A.E. Finley Center for Education and Research), which is open 7 days a week between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. 
Photographers should bring the unsigned form with them to the park or pick up a blank copy when they arrive. They will be asked to sign the form in front of park staff. Please do not mail a photo application to the park.
Once a permit form has been completed and signed by a photographer/videographer and they have agreed to abide by all park rules and guidelines, they will receive an official badge, which must be worn while sessions are conducted in the park.
Once park staff receives a completed (but unsigned) form, they will prepare the photographer/videographer's badge and call to let them know that they can come to the park to sign the form and pick up the badge. Once staff has a signed form in hand, in most cases a permit badge can be obtained on the same day as the planned session, depending on staff availability. Advanced signup is encouraged.


There is no fee associated with this permit, although photographers/videographers will be encouraged to donate to, and become a member of, Yates Mill Associates (www.yatesmill.org), the non-profit group that is responsible for the old mill's ongoing maintenance, repairs and operations.


We have special events throughout the year, so please check our calendar to see if the date you have in mind for a photo shoot coincides with a special event (which might draw thousands of extra visitors to the park). If you come on a special event day, please know that photographers and/or their clients may be asked to park in a different location and might not have access to all areas of the park grounds.
If you have any questions about our policy or would like to know more about our park schedule, please call our main park line at 919-856-6675.


Photo Policy Guidelines  


Please respect all the park rules, as well as this list of rules that we ask photographers and their clients to follow. Please review our Photo Policy Guidelines, which include the following critical information:

  • Photographer is responsible for familiarizing themselves, and informing all of their clients, of all park rules and regulations, and then to adhere to them when at the park. NOTE: Dogs and other pets are not allowed as our park is a refuge for native wildlife, and open flames are prohibited considering the rare nature of our historic mill site.

  • Photographer and clients/subjects will stay out of all restricted areas (including the mill dam, waterwheel, below the mill building and off trail). Please do not block, obstruct, or close any building entrances or doors.

  • Photographer and clients will conduct themselves in a proper and professional manner.
    • Lewd or lascivious behavior, including language or photographs, is prohibited.
    • Park staff has the authority to expel photographers and/or their clients from the park if the actions of the photographers and/or clients are deemed improper by park staff.
  • Photographer and clients will not impede normal park operations and programming.
    • The party is not allowed to disrupt park visitors or staff.
    • No associated equipment for a photo shoot is permitted in any indoor buildings or allowed to block visitor entrances or pathways.
  • No special consideration shall be given (security, use of park golf carts and equipment, etc.)
    • No power or electrical power will be provided by Wake County Parks for the purposes of film, video or photography projects.
  • Photographer and clients will only use the park during regular park hours.
  • Drones may only be used in the park’s open field that’s located near the amphitheater. All other locations are prohibited.
  • Please do not use confetti, rice, and/or bird seed, and be careful using balloons as they are hazardous to wildlife if left behind and these have at times ended up caught up in our trees. Consumables such as cakes being used in photo shoots must be set on a blanket or other type of sheet and must be completely cleaned up when the shoot is finished.
  • Photographer and clients will not disturb any natural or man-made park features, for example:
    • Vegetation and wildlife will not be disturbed or removed.
    • Do not mark or write on anything!
    • Park signage will not be used.
    • Decorations used must not be left behind (e.g., do not use paint or glitter). Do not write on park structures, not even with chalk.
  • Wake County reserves the right to prohibit any projects which are not in the best interest of the County.


In addition to occasional Instagram photo contests, every February Historic Yates Mill County Park sponsors a "Mill as Muse" community art and photography contest as a way to foster involvement in these activities and regularly showcases the local artistic creations that have been inspired by our parks and the old mill. Check out our Public Programs page for more details.