7 Great Chicago Photo Shoot Locations

When I first started blogging, I didn't give much thought to where I took my photos. If it wasn't my back yard, it was against a brick wall in a nondescript alley. There's certainly nothing wrong with sticking with a low key location, but these days I really enjoying finding places to shoot that bring a little something extra to the photos that I take.

1. The Field Museum

The Field Museum is one of my go-to spots for outfit photos, as you may have noticed already. It's a very elegant structure, and with the stairs, columns, terraces, and statues that adorn it, it lends itself to a variety of different poses and angles. I like to get there pretty early, and the morning light coming up over the lake can be really beautiful; however, it's fairly easy to shoot there any time of the day, as there are plenty of shady nooks to shield you from harsh rays.

2. The Art Institute of Chicago

The gardens at the AIC are such a lovely place to shoot in the summer. They're only open during the warmer months, and they have it all - a gorgeous fountain, walkways canopied by ivy and trees, tons of flowers, terraces... I've been trying to expand my horizons and find new locations for shoots, but this is one location that I will be revisiting and utilizing more fully.

3. Lake Michigan

I have to admit, I've shot near the lake plenty of times, but I don't think I've ever gone to exactly the same spot twice. A couple of things to keep in mind - it's _busy_ in the summer. Even at 6am, there are dog walkers, bikers, and runners all over the place. Also, because the sun is rising over the lake, the light can be really intense in the morning, which can make shooting a little difficult. Personally, I've found it easiest to shoot in a slightly out of the way spot closer to sunset. North Avenue beach has some great views of the skyline, and there are stretches near there where the Lake Front Trail widens out a bit, making it easier to get a clear shot. I also love the area around the Adler Planetarium, which has a kind of staircase/stadium seating thing going on (yeah, I know, I've got a real way with words) that makes it easy to get great shots of the lake. 

4. The Riverwalk

The Riverwalk is another easy shoot location. As you walk along, there are grand, sweeping staircases and great views of the bridges and buildings across the river, as well as more modern, even slightly futuristic elements. It's pretty popular hangout spot, but unlike, say, North Avenue Beach, there won't be as many people running or riding their bikes, which can make it a nice location if you like having other people in your shots.

5. Ping Tom Park

Looking through my old photos, I'm realizing that I haven't made nearly enough use of Ping Tom Park! It's a really amazing, distinctive place to take photos, particularly in the summer and the winter. Weeping willows line the river, creating a dense curtain of greenery in the summer and delicate strands of gold in the winter. The Canal Street bridge, topped by it's tiny bridge-tender house, looms in the background. I personally find it kind of difficult to photograph the Pavilion and the Boathouse, but these Chinese-inflected structures are really lovely. If you haven't been here before, it's easy to see, but hard to access - the entrance is off a tiny side street, so double check your Google maps before you try to get in!

6. Lincoln Park

The area in and around Lincoln Park is fantastic for taking photos. The Zoo, of course, is very fun (there is a carousel in there, FYI), and the spyglass thingies (that's a technical technical term) make for a great prop. I also love the Ulysses S. Grant Monument, which you can see in the photo below with the orange dress. If you're looking for some great sidewalk sashay photos, this is the perfect neighborhood for that - every street is lined with beautiful old homes and perfectly maintained gardens. 

7. Millennium Park/Grant Park

Public parks can be a great place for photography, and in Chicago I particularly like Grant Park and Millennium Park. Although they have two different names, it's pretty much one contiguous stretch of green space the goes from Roosevelt in the south to Randolph in the north. Grant Park is a great place for a low key session; I especially like to shoot near the fountain in the formal gardens (just north of 11th Street), as well as along the balustraded walkways, which are particularly nice in the summer and fall. Millennium Park, particularly around the Bean, can be a stunning place to shoot, but I recommend getting there pretty early to beat the crowds.

If you're a Chicagoan, what are some great spots that I missed? I know there are some obvious ones, like the Chicago Theater or Buckingham Fountain - I didn't include them because I've actually never taken photos there, although I'm hoping to do so this summer - but I'd love to learn about any out of the way spots that I might not have heard of before. For the other bloggers out there, what sort of locations do you prefer for your picture taking endeavors?