Photography Guidelines

Archbishop John Ireland once wrote, "There should be no one who, entering the Cathedral, is not able to say–it is mine.” We welcome photographers who wish to capture the many architectural, artistic, and sacred images in this grand edifice. Please take a moment to read through our guidelines for photography at the Cathedral of Saint Paul, which are designed to ensure that all visitors may enjoy their experience here and to protect the dignity of this house of God. These guidelines and the permit process are for professional photographers, not for the visitor who wishes to take a few tourist snapshots. We do, however, request that anyone taking photographs abide by the basic rules of courtesy out of respect for those who are here to worship.

Times for Photography

The Cathedral of Saint Paul is open to the public for many hours each day of the week. However, it remains a private building in which Masses and other holy services are held throughout the day. Out of respect for those who have come to this sacred place to worship, flash photography and tourist visits are not allowed inside the church during daily or Sunday Masses, the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament (Eucharistic Adoration), or other liturgies including weddings and funerals. Please check the welcome signs at the entrances or see our Mass Schedule for the current liturgical schedule. As you photograph the beautiful architecture and art, please note that it is not permissible to photograph individuals without their consent (written parental consent in the case of children).

Photography Permits

As an historic monument, as the mother church of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, and as a holy sanctuary, it is important that images of the Cathedral not be used in any way that would not be considered dignified and respectful of all that it represents. Therefore, if you would like to schedule a photo shoot of the Cathedral, please contact the Welcome Center at 651.228.1766 to make an appointment and acquire a permit. We offer a very simple permit process and trust that all visitors will honor our guidelines for photography. Cathedral Security personnel routinely (and courteously) check for permits of photographers.

Interior Photography

As the cathedral of a large archdiocese, and as a national shrine, the Cathedral of Saint Paul is primarily a place for sacred liturgy and for prayerful pilgrimage. We receive many requests for photography from civic groups, private organizations and persons, and various amateur and professional photographers to shoot inside the Cathedral. Photo shoots in which a person or persons are the primary subject with the Cathedral as a backdrop are not allowed. Couples getting married at the Cathedral are allotted time for wedding pictures before and after the ceremony as noted below. Couples wishing to have wedding party photos taken at the Cathedral who are not being married at the Cathedral may have photos taken around the exterior of the Cathedral only (front steps, courtyard, doorway, etc.). This policy is in place to protect from undue distraction our many liturgies as well as our numerous visitors who come inside the Cathedral to pray in one of our many chapels and shrines.

Wedding Photography

Photographers and videographers may begin to set up no more than 90 minutes prior to the start of the wedding, though they may arrive earlier to view the building. This policy includes the use of the Cathedral grounds as well as the interior of the building. Pre-wedding photography must be completed 30 minutes prior to the ceremony. As long as the families and wedding party remain available near where the photos are being taken, this timeframe will be sufficient.

The sanctuary, the area behind the communion rail where the altars are located, is a sacred space. Cameras are not permitted within the sanctuary—no exceptions. Photographers may pose the wedding party and families on the sanctuary steps in front of the altar, and in no other part of the sanctuary. Photographers are not allowed in the gallery (choir loft).

Flash photography may occur during the processional and recessional only, but not during the ceremony. While the ceremony is in progress, photographers must remain behind the seated guests, and they are asked to refrain from obtrusive or disruptive movement during the wedding. Videographers are to remain stationary during the ceremony. Please note that there are very few electrical outlets in the Cathedral.

After the ceremony, all final photography must be completed within 30 minutes. The Cathedral of Saint Paul respectfully requests that wedding photographers and videographers cooperate with the spiritual nature of the wedding celebration, remain respectful of this sacred environment, and work within the guidelines presented here.

Event Photography

Whenever an organization holds an event at the Cathedral of Saint Paul for which a photographer is hired, both the organization and the photographer must sign an Addendum for Photography, which iterates the following guidelines. The signed Addendum for Photography must be submitted to the Cathedral of Saint Paul no less than one week prior to the event. No requests will be honored after that time.

Only one official photographer is allowed for an event at the Cathedral of Saint Paul (concerts, lectures, etc.). The event photographer must sign in for a credential at the Welcome Center prior to the event, and display it on a lanyard during of the event.

Event photographers are never allowed in the sanctuary and are only allowed in the gallery (choir loft) by the written permission of the Director of Music or the Rector, which should be requested at least one week in advance. Photographers must show written permission, with the signature of the Director of Music or the Rector, to Security before being admitted to the gallery. 

Flash photography is restricted to pre– and post-event times and periods of applause. Photographers should be aware of the proceedings of the event, being careful not to take photos or move in a way that distracts the participants or the audience.

The Cathedral of Saint Paul reserves the right to  require any photographer to cease and desist from photography at any time, either verbally or in writing, for any reason.