Photography at Duke Gardens

bridal portrait

Flowers by Eclectic Sage. Photo by Live View Studios.


A Perfect Backdrop: Enchanting fountains, vine-covered pergolas and an impressive display of flowers and other plants make Duke Gardens a memorable backdrop for photos. Visitors who wish to take portrait photos at Duke Gardens must purchase a permit.


Do I Need a Permit?

A photography permit covers specific photography sessions and includes any of the following conditions:

  • Portrait: Anyone having a portrait taken at Duke Gardens, including those celebrating their quinceañera, wedding, engagement, proposals, birthday, family, maternity, graduation or any other special situation.
  • Intent: Any visit to Duke Gardens where the main purpose is taking portrait, family or special occasion photography, rather than a recreational visit to the Gardens.
  • A photographer: Either amateur, student or professional. Someone (or several) who are the designated photographer(s) within your party. 
  • Props & makeup: Flowers (real or artificial), luggage that contain props, makeup cases.
  • A change of clothes: Changing in or out of outfits.
  • Prom: Students from Durham Public Schools are welcome to take portraits on prom weekends with friends and family. But professional photographers must still apply for a permit.

Note: the permit is for photo shoots only. Performing a ceremony will result in immediate termination of the shoot with no refund of fees.

Videography and commercial photography require additional permission 30 days in advance from Duke Gardens and the university. Please see this page for more information.

If you have any questions, please email us.


Please fill out this application form to request a photo session date and time. After you submit the form, you will be contacted regarding availability of your requested date by the special events office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.   

  • $100: 1-5 people
  • $200: 6-10 people (10 people is the maximum allowed)

Note: Your request is not confirmed until payment has been made. After you have paid the fee, you will receive a confirmation email. Please keep your confirmation email as proof of payment.
**For photo shoots that occur before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., a $50 surcharge will be added to the permit fee.

  •  $100: 1-5 people   (+ $50)
  •  $200: 6-10 people (+ $50; 10 people is the maximum allowed)

*All pricing is subject to change without notice.

CANCELLATION POLICY: Duke Gardens and its facilities are subject to weather variations and temporary closures. The Gardens will attempt to reschedule should a session need to be canceled, but there will be no refunds. Shooting dates may be adjusted in the event of inclement weather; any changes must be agreed upon by our special events office. For more information, please email the special events office .

PARKING: Our regular parking fees will apply for each vehicle within the party. To avoid congestion, vehicles must load and unload passengers in the upper parking lot. No vehicles may pull up in front of the visitor center or in front of the main pedestrian gate to the Gardens, the Gothic Gate.


  • Photographers and their clients may access Duke Gardens only when the gardens are open to the public.
  • Drones are not permitted.  
  • Clients must arrive camera-ready, as there are no dressing room facilities.
  • Balloons, glitter, confetti, rice, kites and flying lanterns — or any other materials that leave waste or residue — are strictly prohibited. 
  • Props such as a table, chair, mirror, environmentally unfriendly materials that may harm wildlife, or any unusual props that may be dangerous or disruptive to other visitors, are strictly prohibited. Please contact the special events office for the full list of props that are not permitted.
  • Do not hang drapes or leave items on trees, benches or walls.
  • Do not climb trees or stand on walls, rails or fountains.
  • Set up your shoot in a manner that does not impact visitors or disrupt events, programs or garden maintenance.
  • Photography clients are subject to all rules, regulations and guidelines of Duke Gardens and may be asked to leave at any time without refund of fees if violating our policies. 
  • Prior to your visit, please read all policies on this page.

labels says read our full policies and links to garden policies page