Whether you live here or are visiting, it’s not always easy to find the best spots to capture a decent photo without the crowds of tourists. Here at H, we decided to give you a head start and list some of the best places in Chicago visit for a photo shoot. There’s a wide range of places on this list, so you’re bound to get some crazy good content. From cityscape to “nature,” there’s a little bit of something for us all.
1. The Cloud Gate (AKA — The Bean)
I mean, who doesn’t want a photo of The Bean? We suggest going during times when you know tourists won’t really be there, like just as the sun is coming up. You should take the normal tourist photos if you want, then get creative. Go inside The Bean, and see what you can come up with. It’s a trippy and fascinating experience, and there’s lots of room for you to create some cool stuff.
2. The Lurie Garden
A lesser-known botanical garden in the Chicago area, the Lurie Garden is the perfect place to take photos of a wide variety of plant and wildlife and people. It was designed to demonstrate the ways in which urban spaces could be reclaimed to provide healthy habitats for local flora and fauna.
The Garden is located in Millennium Park and is free to the public. There’s even a small, cool stream that’s perfect to dip your toes in on a hot summer day. A good place to practice taking photographs with your macro.
3. Garfield Park Conservatory
From tropical plants to dry desert cacti, this plant haven is where you can go to get some clean air, great light, and awesome photos. It doesn’t cost anything to wander around the gardens all day with your camera. The glass conservatory lets natural light in from all angles, so if you do plan portrait session here, you’ll look stunning. We all love that soft light, and this is the perfect place to never have to worry about the windy Chicago weather messing up your photos.
4. Chicago Cultural Center
A mix of modern and classic elements, the Chicago Cultural Center is a beautiful piece of architecture. The statement staircases, geometric metal scaffolding in a hallway, nearly floor-to-ceiling windows, and the elegant Tiffany dome make this a great space for someone with an artful eye. We’re thinking fancy dresses and lots of makeup, or if you are feeling really ambitious, find some old Victorian Era clothes at a thrift store and do it up.
5. Lake Michigan
The second-largest Great Lake, Lake Michigan, is actually so large you can’t see the other side, and it has tides like the ocean. One of the best places to get a shot of Lake Michigan is from the top of the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier. The wheel intentionally moves slowly enough to allow riders to take shots of the city, the Pier, and the lake itself, so it’s the perfect opportunity to get one of those glittering lake-view shots.
6. Alder Planetarium
If you want the ultimate skyline view, head out to Adler Planetarium. It’s a common bachelorette party and couples’ photoshoot location, but who cares? The little peninsula where the museum resides is a typically quiet part of the city right on the water with killer views. Golden hour and blue hour will be your best times to head here for a shoot. Play some music, bring some friends, and have a good time.
7. Sawada Coffee
The best place for some food, coffee, and indoor portraits. It’s a fun place to hang out, get some cool interior and detail shots, and not to mention work on your photo edits. With a laid-back vibe and bohemian-style decor, it should be on every creatives list while in the city.
8. Franklin Street Bridge
From here, if you look east on the river, you’ll see the Wells Street Bridge, the Brown Line train, the well-known Marina Towers, historic Carbide & Carbon Building (now the St. Jane hotel), and the red brick Reid, Murdoch & Co. building. With so many Chicago hallmarks in one view, it’d be hard to find a better city shot. Perfect for those cityscape photos that you always see on Instagram featuring someone laughing.
9. Washington/Wabash CTA Station
If you’re going to take a CTA photo, you might as well do it at the Washington/Wabash elevated platform. Keep your eye out for what Instagrammers have dubbed #chicagohenge. It’s that perfect, golden hour moment where you can see the sunset between the Loop’s towering high-rises. Stand on Madison or Washington Streets at State Street facing Millennium Park to see the city light up in a new way. You won’t be disappointed if you snag this shot.
10. The 606
On the 606, you’ll find art embedded throughout the elevated trail — murals like Tony Passero’s Coywolf or sculptures Chakaia Booker’s spiraling rubber tire Brick House. Along the 2.7-mile path, there’s a lot of variety — the steel, industrial-looking footbridge, natural grasses, and landscaping, plus eye-catching mural backdrops. It’s a great place to bring a ton of cool outfits and let your mind get creative.
Hear from Hub members for more of their favorite locations to shoot in Chicago: