Shangri La Botanical Gardens & Nature Center

Photography Policy

We welcome everyone to enjoy Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center and the many photographic opportunities that the gardens and nature offer. We encourage visitors to photograph for their own personal use.
The Photography Terms and Conditions outlined below are intended for all guests. A permit is only necessary for those who wish to use the Garden settings as the background for formal, posed photography. This includes wedding, engagement, family, prom, and graduation photography or the like. We appreciate your cooperation.
Those celebrating wedding receptions or other special occasions scheduled at Shangri La under its separate facility rental policy are welcome to take photographs during their rental time at no additional fee. As always, the general terms and photography rules apply. For information on scheduling a private event at the Gardens, please see our Facility Rental Policy or contact Amara Townsend at the Shangri La Administration Office at 409.670.9113 ext. 4010.
If you are a professional or commercial photographer who would like to obtain a photography membership or if you are an individual who would like to make arrangements for a photography session at Shangri La, please contact Amara Townsend at the Shangri La Administration Office at 409.670.9113 ext. 4010 after reviewing the Terms and Conditions below.


Amateur Photography

  • Visitors are permitted to take photographs and shoot videos for private, non-commercial use, except in specific exhibits or areas where photography may not be permitted as determined in the discretion of management.
  • In the absence of a separate permit issued for professional, commercial and/or event photography or in the absence of an exception permitted by Shangri La staff in connection with an activity or class sponsored and supervised by us, use of a tripod, monopod or similar apparatus is prohibited pursuant to posted Garden Rules and Etiquette.
  • Individuals desiring to utilize such equipment must make separate scheduling arrangements and pay a fee in accordance with the separate policies for Commercial and/or Professional Photography.

Commercial/Professional Photography (including Event Photography)

  • Commercial photography will not be allowed in any part of the garden or its facilities without prior consideration and written consent.
  • Commercial and professional photographers must first register with the Shangri La Administration Office, schedule a session and pay a permit fee.
  • For consideration, a formal request must be submitted at least one week prior to the proposed shooting date. Approval or denial will be given after the consideration process.
  • This includes, but is not limited to, bridal, engagement, graduation, posed, formal and family or group photo sessions.
  • Photography sessions must not interfere with other visitors, and photographers and participants must abide by the rules of the photography permit.
  • Professional/commercial photographers must be members of the Stark Cultural Venues at the $150 Bird’s Eye Level and must make prior arrangements for all professional and commercial photography at the Gardens by calling 409.670.9113. A photography permit fee must be paid for each session, as outlined in Event Photography.
  • For purposes of this Policy, a professional photographer is any photographer who:
    1. earns income or payment for taking photographs;
    2. utilizes equipment, apparatus or gear that is beyond the level of equipment utilized by a novice or amateur photographer in order to achieve a high-quality image, including but not limited to tripods, cables, light meters, lenses, or UV filters; or
    3. sells, markets, distributes, circulates or publishes the images photographed by him or her for commercial purposes or gain.
  • Please contact the Shangri La Administration Office at 409.670.9113 for information on advance registration (including photography membership), completion of orientation and acknowledgment form, scheduling of reservations for commercial and professional use, and payment of permit fee.

Event Photography

Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center is a beautiful location for engagement photos, bridal portraits, wedding photos, graduation photos, individual and family portraits, and nature photos. Photographers who desire to utilize the grounds of Shangri La as a setting for event photography must (1) hold a photography membership (annual) and (2) have completed an orientation session with written acknowledgment, as well as (a) schedule a time in advance and (b) pay a permit fee for each session, as scheduled.

1. Advance Scheduling.

All commercial/professional/event photography at Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center must be scheduled and requires advance reservations through the Administration Office 409.670.9113.  Appearing without reservations may result in refusal of permission due to other events previously scheduled.
Bookings are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Sessions must be scheduled at least 7 days in advance within the following hours: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday – Saturday.
  • Photographs at the Gardens may only be taken during the above hours, unless other arrangements have been made.
  • Guests wishing to have photographs taken at the Gardens will not be admitted later than one hour before closing, unless they have rented the facility for an after-hours event.
  • Other than prom/homecoming pictures and nature/premises pictures, each photography session lasts 60 minutes. All portrait subjects must arrive at their assigned time.
  • The individual, group or wedding party should arrive 10 to 15 minutes before scheduled session time so as not to waste any of the session time getting ready or selecting a photo location. No indoor photos are allowed.
  • If a session is rained out or otherwise affected by inclement weather, a rain date will be given that is good for one calendar year from the date on the permit.
  • If you (through your photographer) paid a permit fee and only used a portion of the time allotted due to inclement weather, you may use the balance of your time another day, subject to scheduling. Please report your departure to the Administration Office and reschedule with Facility Rental.

2. Permit Fees.

Unless you have rented all or a portion of the facility for an event pursuant to separate rental policies, there will be a photography permit fee regardless of the size of your group or the purpose of the photographs. This fee includes admission for the number of guests specified below, together with the corresponding session time. With the exception of large event/multi session photography, your photographer should collect and pay all permit fees, which must be remitted prior to entry to the Gardens for a scheduled session.
  • Nature/Grounds: For nature, wildlife, scenic or other grounds photographs (with no human subject), the permit fee is $150 for up to two consecutive hours. The nature/grounds photographer should note the prohibition stated below concerning the sale, reproduction, publication, distribution or other transmission of any photographs taken by him or her on the Shangri La premises in the absence of express authorization by the Managing Director and appropriate acknowledgment/location credit.
  • Individual/Couple: For bridal, engagement, anniversary, graduation/senior portraits and other special events photography (excepting prom and homecoming), the permit fee is $200 for individual or couples portraits.
    Family/Group: For family or group portraits (including wedding party) for up to 8 people, the permit fee is $300. For additional persons beyond 8 individuals for family or group portraits, there will be a supplemental charge of $25 per person for the session.
  • The permit fees for Individual/Couple and/or for Family/Group include a non-exclusive, one-hour session at multiple locations in Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center and admission for the portrait subject(s) and up to two other people (non-subjects), plus photographer.
  • Large Event/Multi Session: For large-event photography (such as prom and homecoming), there is a $50 permit fee per shoot, which allows a maximum of 2 guests to enter the premises for posed pictures in one location with the photographer. Each shoot is limited to a 20-minute period. Additional shoots or extended time for the same guests/couple requires an additional $50.00 fee for an additional 20-minute period.
  • Permit fees are non-refundable and must be paid in advance or at the gate immediately prior to the session by cash or credit card. With the exception of large event/multi session photography, photographers are responsible for collecting and remitting the applicable permit fees for each session scheduled by them. Permit fees are waived if the subject(s) of the photo shoot are named members or children of named members of the Stark Cultural Venues at the Star or Crescent individual level.
  • An escort may be provided as determined in the discretion of Shangri La staff in order to enforce the respective time limits and to ensure the session is not disrupted by others. However, please remember that the Gardens are open to the public and that regular business continues during normal operating hours, which includes the presence of visitors in all authorized areas of the Gardens.

Summary of procedure for Commercial, Professional and/or Event Photographs at Shangri La

  1. Photographer must complete application for permit for commercial/professional photography, including brief orientation session and acknowledgment/waiver form;
  2. Photographer must submit payment for photography membership (annual);
  3. Prior to any photo session, photographer must reserve date/time with Shangri La Administration Office for upcoming shoot within the days and times provided; and
  4. Upon arrival for previously-scheduled session, Photographer must pay permit fee due for the shoot, and portrait subjects must complete acknowledgment/waiver form.

Photography Rules

All photographers, whether amateur, commercial, professional or event, must abide by the Rules of Garden Etiquette posted at Shangri La as well as specific rules concerning photography. Failure to follow all rules may lead to suspension of the opportunity of a photographer to use the Gardens for photography.

The following rules and regulations pertain to any photography in Shangri La.

  • You may use any paved or gravel surface and grassy areas, but do not block any garden trails, pathways or walkways or in any way restrict guest movement or block access areas from use by others.
  • Be courteous and considerate to other Garden visitors and always allow enough room for other visitors to pass without difficulty.
  • Please stay out of the flowerbeds, plant displays or mulched areas and do not remove any plant identification signs. Even though flowerbeds may look empty, plant shoots may be growing just below the soil surface. Stepping on these shoots will kill the plants.
  • Do not step between plants. Stepping between plants compacts the soil, turning it into a cement-like substance that repels water and kills roots. This creates a bald spot for the rest of the growing season.
  • Flowers and foliage may not be removed or rearranged for any purpose. Plant labels, tags and/or containers may not be moved or removed.
  • Subjects may not be posed in trees, on rocks, on sculptures or other structures. Photographers, subjects and all equipment must stay out of the water features, flowers beds and off all artwork and other structures at all times. Climbing on trees or other structures in Shangri La is prohibited.
  • Clothing, backdrops or other props are not to be hung on plants or trees.
  • Appropriate attire is required at all times.
  • Vehicles may load and unload passengers in front of the entrance; however, please move your car immediately after loading or unloading passengers.
  • Shangri La is not responsible for lost, damaged or stolen equipment.
  • Photographs taken at Shangri La may not be sold, published, reproduced, transferred, distributed or otherwise commercially exploited without the express written consent of the Stark Foundation. Any photographs that may be authorized for use must give location credit as Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, Orange, Texas.

The following additional rules pertain to commercial/professional photography in Shangri La.

We are delighted that you are considering Shangri La Botanical Gardens as the location for your photos and portraits. To ensure a positive experience for you, while maintaining a pleasant experience for our other visitors, please be aware of the foregoing rules pertaining to any photography in Shangri La, as well as the following rules and guidelines for commercial and professional photography:
  • Photographers should observe the scheduled time for their sessions and allow enough time for set up and location. We enforce Shangri La’s posted hours of operation for photo sessions as well as the duration of time permitted for a photo session.
  • Ladies should wear walking shoes and carry high heels between shots to prevent tripping and/or ruining good shoes.
  • Other than public restroom facilities, Shangri La does not have nor will it provide any place for the changing of clothes for photo sessions.
  • No food is allowed.
  • Because photography sessions are scheduled during Shangri La’s operating hours, we are unable to restrict access to classes, groups of students, and the general public, who may be passing through the gardens.
Shangri La Administration reserves the right, at its discretion, to withhold and/or withdraw permission to photograph on its premises, to refuse admittance for photography, and/or to change its Photography Terms and Conditions at any time without advance notice. Shangri La staff may enforce photography terms and conditions at any time.
While on Shangri La grounds, visitors may be photographed, filmed and/or videotaped by staff and/or contract photographers, and these images may be used for the purpose of promoting the Gardens. Your presence serves as permission for the use of your image by the Gardens and its constituents.



The terms and conditions that pertain to commercial and professional photography also pertain to artists, including the requirement of a Bird’s Eye annual membership, advance scheduling and payment of a permit fee based upon the category that pertains to the subject of the artist’s session, as outlined above.
  • Artists may set up easels in lawn areas with the understanding that garden maintenance procedures may require their relocation at any time.
  • Nothing may be stored on the ground around easels. All supplies must be kept in packs the artist can carry while working.
  • Artists may not dispose of paints or any chemicals (turpentine, brush cleaners, etc.) while in the garden.


Members of the media may photograph or film areas of the garden for the purpose of news coverage that includes Shangri La Gardens. All members of the press must contact the Marketing Manager prior to arrival at the garden, preferably at least one day in advance. To make arrangements, please call 409.670.9113.
Thank you for choosing Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center for your wedding, family and individual portraits!