It can be stressful selecting your location for your portrait session. My first recommendation is to think of places that are important to you and see if any of those work. If not, no worries. I am here to help. Here are my favorite free and permit locations in the burbs and the city.
You can click the name of each location to view a full session!
Favorite Burb Locations
1. Located in the north burbs, Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve is by far my favorite location. I am a sucker for a beach and this location has it all: beach, rocks, lake and forest.
2. Fabyan Forest Preserve is probably my most used location. Located in Geneva it has beautiful stone work, greenery and is right on the Fox River. Perfect for all seasons.
3. St James Forest Preserve in Wheaton is another popular selection. It has cute yellow buildings, red brick, white fencing and lots of greens including a couple allée rows. DuPage County Forest Preserve does require a fee to photograph there, but I purchase their annual permit for all DuPage Forest Preserves, so you are covered!
4. Cantingy Gardens in Wheaton is stunning with it's season flowers and perfectly manicured garden beds. There is a permit fee of $50 plus parking.
5. Morton Arboretum is the perfect place for tree lovers. The pines at P29 are my absolute favorite along with Joy Garden near Thornhill. And lately there have been some amazing sculptures brought in that couples like to incorporate. There is a permit fee, but if you are a member you can get a discount. (PS. I am a member).
6. Hurley Gardens in Wheaton is another favorite among my clients. This one is perfect for sessions with littles because it has a lot to work with in a small footprint. That way they don't get tired out from too much walking. Plus, it has great natural places for them to sit, run and explore.
7. Waterfall Glen in Lemont has become a new favorite in recent years. It is stunning, but buggy and a bit of a hike to get there so wear bug spray and wear comfy shoes. However, the views are incredible and totally worth it.
8. Bird Haven Greenhouse in Joliet is a newer location to me, but super pretty. If you stay outside the green house it is free to use their gorgeous grounds. If you choose to go inside the greenhouse you must have an appointment and it's a $20 permit fee.
9. LeRoy Oaks Forest Preserve, located in St Charles, is a great location for a rustic vibe, complete with two red barns, open fields, a small creek, forest and more.
Favorite City Locations
1. Montrose Beach is probably my personal favorite because you get a nature vibe with some far away city views.
2. North Ave Beach is another great location for skyline views. It will be a little more crowded so people will be in your background. However, the city is breathtaking and you can find cute spots of nature tucked away to make it look like you are somewhere else completely.
3. Across the bridge from North Ave Beach is Lincoln Park. A lot of my couples like to split their session time between both these location. Lincoln Park is home to the famous honeycomb this is so often talk about. You can also get great skyline views as well as nature.
4. Wrigley Building and Michigan Ave go hand in hand. It's hard to pass those locations and not find a photographer taking photos there. The streets views on Michigan Ave are iconic and the balcony area at the Wrigley Building showcases Chicago beautifully.
5. Board of Trade is another classic Chicago spot with it's stunning architecture. I like to take a short walk past the Opera House to the River to the Constellation Sculpture. There you can get photo of the El, bridges and beautiful city shots.
6. Museum Campus is not quite as popular, but an underused gem. The architecture is gorgeous and the city views are impressive.
7. Lasalle Street Bridge is another popular downtown spot. While this location is used for weddings more than portraits, you can utilize the bridge and then head down the Riverwalk to capture some gorgeous architure, fountains and more. If you don't mind the walk, you can utilize both the Wrigley Building and Lasalle Street.
Lastly, if you are looking for cute downtown areas in the burbs, St Charles, Geneva, Wheaton and Naperville are at the top of my list!