There are so many decisions to be made when you start to plan your portrait session. This is such an exciting time in your lives, and the choices can be overwhelming! After years of photographing sessions all over the Chicago area and surrounding suburbs, I’ve created a location guide to help you with making your choice.
When I think about the “best” places to take photos, I think about locations that are dynamic and will allow me to give you as much variety as possible during your scheduled portrait session. Here are. some of my top choices that I recommend looking into:
The Morton Arboretum, in Lisle, is amazing for any couple who loves the outdoors . The variety that we can do here for an engagement session is limitless!
Whether we explore the area around Meadow Lake, or drive the loop around the main route of the west side of the arboretum, the beauty of this location is perfect in any season. The convenience of being able to drive and pop out for each location is incomparable to anything else. To see a fall engagement session at the Morton Arboretum, check out Becca and Tony’s blog post.
One of my absolute favorite locations is located in Wheaton, IL! Cantigny Park is packed with various gardens, trails, museums, and picnic areas. The permit fee here is $35, which you pay upon entering the parking lot. This is one of the most reasonable permit fees, and once you see the color and variety, you’ll realize it’s worth every dollar! You can check out Emily and Garrett’s blog post or Staci and Zach’s session for more favorites from this dynamic location!
Located in the South Loop, Museum Campus offers such a variety all in one location. We can start at the Field Museum, making our way around all of the historical architecture over to the Shedd Aquarium, and finally head over to the Planetarium for golden hour. This is where you can see the massive skyline at its best! I don’t think there is another spot in the city that beats these views during the golden hour sunset! We can walk along the boardwalks and take in the beachy beauty of Lake Michigan, or take in the skyline views from a distance. You can check out Rachel and Derek or Jessica and Akshay‘s engagement blog post to see more engagement session at this location.
Peck Farm Park is located in Geneva, IL. If you’ve been dreaming of an open field for your photo session, this might be the perfect location for you! Peck Farm Park is a 385 acre natural retreat that offers a place to slow down and enjoy the natural surroundings. To view a full engagement session at this location, click here to view Casey and Brian!
There’s no place quite like Lilacia Park for your engagement photo session! Located in Lombard, IL, Lilacia Park is the perfect space to capture this season of you life during the Springtime. For the best, most colorful Spring colors, it is best to schedule your session during the first few weeks of May. During this time, you’ll see the dozens of different types of lilacs, tulips, and various other flowers in full bloom. As you get closer to June and the summer months, all of Lombard’s Lilacs will begin to turn green and still continues to be a stunning location for photos year round! Click here to see a full session at this amazing location!
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that wasn’t impressed with the iconic “honeycomb” structure located in the heart of the Lincoln Park Boardwalk. Just in the heart of the city, alongside Lake Michigan and next to Lincoln Park Zoo, the Lincoln Park Boardwalk is the ideal juxtaposition of city and nature. There are so many vantage points throughout the park that offer unique, unobstructed views of the city. This location is just a short walk to either South Pond or The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond. With so many possibilities, your engagement photos are sure to be captured in a memorable way! View more Lincoln Park sessions by checking out Monika and Lukasz or James and Kim‘s engagement sessions.
The Naperville Riverwalk is a one-stop destination that can offer so much variety for your session. Perfect for nature-lovers, this lovely combination of charming bridges and architectural elements is juxtaposed with green landscapes of trees and river waters. Complete with brick paths, fountains, landscaping, and artwork, there is truly so much room for creativity here! Best of all, it is the perfect spot for a date night after your session! No permits are required here. Click here to see Terrin and Tom’s Naperville Riverwalk engagement session blog post.
Located in Streeterville, Olive Park has it all when it comes to capturing the beauty of Chicago. With some of the best views of the city skyline, a lookout that piers out over the water, a pathway lined with trees, and Ohio Street Beach just a few feet away, Olive Park is hands down one of the most popular locations for engagement photos. To see more engagement photos taken at Olive Park, click here to see Kelsey and Kevin’s engagement session.
Hurley Gardens is the hidden gem of Wheaton! A former historic estate, the early 20th-century tea house and garden are tucked in between neighborhood townhomes. There are no permits required to take photos here. The gazebo, pergola, flower-lined walkways, fountain and reflecting pool give this location a clean, crisp look regardless of the season you’re shooting in. Added bonus – It’s a great location if you plan on bringing your pup to your shoot! Click here to see Maxi and Mark’s engagement session at this amazing location!
The Chicago Riverwalk is a favorite for so many! With the City Winery and all of the other restaurants that keep popping up along the river, there is always fun to be had! What better place to take in the architecturally stunning landscapes of the city than with the energy of the riverwalk. One of my favorite things about this location is picking one of the bridges, such as the Kinzie or the Lasalle St Bridge, for an iconic bridge photo. To view a Wrigley Building engagement session, click here.
Bird Haven Greenhouse is a GORGEOUS option for a portrait session! Particularly if you are trying to take photos during the winter months, most places outdoors look brown and dreary. The greenhouse option allows for your images to have plenty of greenery, with the comfort of being indoors (no winds or shivering!). This is also one of my favorite options if there is rain in the forecast. Located in Joliet, IL, there is a small permit of $25, which you can obtain on the day of your session. Click here to see Monika and Stan’s greenhouse engagement session.
This has become an absolute favorite for anyone doing their session in the fall! There is no shortage of local favorites when it comes to showcasing the beautiful fall foliage. Couples will often choose the location closest to where the live, or a place they’ve often spent a lot of time going on walks, having picnics, etc. Some of my favorite forest preserve locations include Hickory Creek (Mokena, IL), Busse Woods Groves 5-16 South (Schaumburg, IL), Waterfall Glen (Lemont, IL).