Chicago is filled to the brim with amazing locations for photo sessions. Whether you’re looking for a paparazzi style photo or a classic skyline backdrop, there are so many places to try! We’ve pulled in our expert vendors to weigh out the top 10 locations that you need to know about before you take those engagement photos! If your engagement session is in the past, you can jot some of these ideas down for your wedding portraits!
10. Montrose Beach
Montrose Beach is an amazing photo spot on the north side of Chicago. It serves up several different looks; everything from beach sand + water to lush greenery to skyline. You can get many different aesthetics in this one location making it a 10/10 for convenience. Parking is a mix of street parking and paid parking lots.
9. Garfield Park Conservatory
Located in Garfield Park neighborhood, the Garfield Park Conservatory is a perfect option for those wanting a lush backdrop, but with climate control! This location is the go-to spot for engagement sessions in the winter if you might not want to have to bear the cold temps. There are different sections throughout the conservatory that present different types of vegetation that allow for some diversity among your photos. Reservations for your photo session are required along with a photography permit. This location does have its own parking lot.
8. Union Station
Union Station is another great option for those looking to utilize an indoor location. If you’re looking for a session that leans into classic architecture, this is your spot! The exterior of the building garners gorgeous columns that can be utilized permit-free. If you opt for the interior of the building, a permit is required. This location serves classic and timeless energy that many other locations simply don’t offer. We recommend using a ride-share to get to this location easiest.
7. Board of Trade
If you’re looking to get those street paparazzi style photos, the Chicago Board of Trade building is going to skyrocket to the top of your list! Located in the Financial District of downtown Chicago, this strip is the perfect spot to get crosswalk shots without too much traffic stopping you. It’s not an easy location to get too many stationary poses, but for movement based poses, this is a good one! We recommend utilizing street parking for this location.
6. Art Institute South Gardens
We are forever in love with this location! This little oasis nestled right in the hustle and bustle of Michigan Avenue is a hide out that we are so glad to know about! The South Gardens of the Art Institute are open the same hours as the museum, but they are seasonal. Typically, from May-September, you can find this gem of a location filled with ivy, statues, pools and low ornamental trees. This isn’t a large park, so we recommend allowing enough time in here to potentially wait for patrons to clear out of your backdrop. This location does not require a permit.
5. Museum Campus
Museum Campus is a large area that encompasses many different locations that some might breakdown into their own spots. Ranging from The Field Museum all the way to Northerly Island, this strip of locations can serve you many different looks. The Field Museum offers white, marble architecture with stairs and gardens, while the lake front at the Adler Planetarium is one of the best views of the skyline in Chicago. If you walk slightly more south, you hit Northerly Island which offers beach type photos where you can dip your toes in the water! This is a very easy location to get to with paid parking offered by the museums.
4. Lincoln Park Boardwalk
The Lincoln Park Boardwalk is very popular location that you are bound to see other couples having their photos taken! The boardwalk is a strip of nature that sits outside of the Lincoln Park Zoo and is home to a large pond, sunflowers, the famous “honeycomb” and a view of the skyline that you’ve most likely seen on Instagram. This spot, while beautiful, tends to get crowded in peak season. It can be easy to find nooks to photograph here, though. Parking is free on the street or there is a paid lot for the zoo.
3. Wrigley Building + Riverwalk
This location is a must-see! Chances are, when you search Chicago engagement photos on any social media, the riverwalk and Wrigley Building are going to be flooding your search page. “The Chicago Riverwalk is such a versatile place to do your engagement photos. You have the iconic Chicago views along with tons of nooks hiding everything to take the best photos. If you can swing a sunrise shoot on the riverwalk it won’t disappoint; you will have the whole place to yourself!”-Deanda Photography We recommend parking underneath Wrigley Building on Hubbard. There is street parking as well as a lot that makes accessibility to this location easy!
2. Olive Park
It is a favorite for a reason! Olive Park is something that the tourists don’t generally know about, so it’s still a well kept secret for us locals (shhh!). This park nestled one block north of Navy Pier is the perfect location to get a skyline view that is unbeatable! “Olive Park is a favorite of mine. No matter the time of day, you can pretty much be sure that the lighting is going to be beautiful. Plus, you have a killer skyline view that isn’t super far away from you.”-Photography by Lauryn This location can be hard to find because it isn’t accessible by car. You will need to be dropped off by a ride share and walk to the park, or park nearby at Navy Pier and walk over.
1. North Avenue Beach
The winning location, in our books, is the ever popular; North Avenue Beach! We cannot get enough of this location! There is something about North Avenue that makes you feel like you’re just in a romantic movie. This location is ideal for those who want that quintessential Chicago look. You will get skyline, lake views and beach all wrapped into one. During the summer months, you can even find dune grass! No matter the time of year, though, this location is a classic and you cannot go wrong with your photo session here. There is a paid parking lot right at the beach, but it is often full. We recommend parking at Lincoln Park and taking the pedestrian bridge over Lake Shore Drive. It is about a 15 minute walk.