The Chicago skyline is absolutely iconic, which is why it comes as a surprise to no one that it’s used as the backdrop for SO many portraits! Whether you need an epic backdrop for your proposal, for your engagement photos, or for your wedding portraits, it’s hard to compete with the Chicago skyline. Not all skyline photos are made equal though, and there are a TON of different locations where you can capture an insane view of the Windy City’s skyline. That thought is what brings us to today’s article! Let’s check out 10 of my favorite locations throughout Chicago where you can capture the skyline as your backdrop in ALL of its glory!
Starting off the list strong we have the ever gorgeous North Avenue Beach! Arguably one of the most popular locations in Chicago for portraits with the Chicago skyline in the background, this location easily earns that reputation. This engagement session will show you exactly what I mean. With a spectacular view of the skyline, a setting right on the water of Lake Michigan, and an abundance of space to work with, North Avenue Beach is an easy choice for this list. And as an added bonus, parking near the beach is much easier than a lot of locations throughout the city!
Chicago’s Museum Campus is up next, and is easily one of my favorite spots in the city! Museum Campus, and specifically the Adler Planetarium give a similar feel to North Avenue Beach, but with a completely different view of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan for your portraits. If North Ave Beach has a ton of space, then Museum Campus is on another level! The space available to work with makes this location incredible for any sort of photography, the main concern to be aware of is traffic and parking near the campus. Soldier Field is just next door, so if there’s a Bear’s game or other event going on parking can be tricky. Luckily though the views are SO worth it as you can see from this engagement session.
Next on our list we have the Navy Pier, which is an iconic location in its own right! Navy Pier is found right on the waters of Lake Michigan and features the famous Ferris Wheel among other attractions that make it one of the go-to tourist destinations in the city. The location has SO much more to it though, including a wonderful view of the Chicago skyline for your portraits. Just take a look at this engagement session on the pier! Navy Pier is an incredible option for any photo shoot thanks to its view of the city as well as its many attractions that give it its charm and character.
Just north of Navy Pier is Milton Lee Olive Park, one of the most beautiful locations in the city with a more natural feel to it. Milton Lee Olive Park is located on Lake Michigan as well which gives it the backdrop of the Chicago skyline for portraits. The walking trail along the shoreline gives you plenty of portrait opportunities with the city’s skyline as your backdrop, as you can see in this surprise proposal. The park also is teaming with trees which give it a more natural feel than any of the previous locations that we’ve looked at!
Speaking of locations with a more natural feel to them, let’s take a look at our next location, Promontory Point! On the south end of the city, Promontory Point offers a more distant view of the Chicago skyline for your portraits. This added distance gives you more space to work with as the location is usually less busy than others on the list. It also lets you get a bit more variety during your session as you can have photos with Lake Michigan or the nature of Promontory Point as your backdrops as well!
Heading back up to the north end of the city we have Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary! The Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary offers a lot of the same draws to it as Promontory Point, but with a completely different view of the Chicago skyline in your portraits. While this change in view may seem minor, it does give a completely different feel to your photos! Both locations are less busy than others that are closer to the city, and offer natural beauty and views of Lake Michigan in addition to their views of the Chicago skyline. This means that deciding between the two often comes down to preference, unless you have another location or event closer to one or the other!
Keeping with our theme of a more natural setting for your portraits, but a closer view of the Chicago skyline is the magical Lincoln Park Boardwalk! Lincoln Park can be found near North Avenue Beach, and offers a surreal experience when taking photos there. It’s hard to come by a location where you simultaneously feel surrounded by nature while also seeing skyscrapers towering above you. That’s the magic that Lincoln Park provides though! The boardwalk is typically on the busier side, but is TOTALLY worth it as you can see from this engagement session. One important thing to note is that the Honeycomb structure in the park requires a photo permit if you plan to use it during your session.
While not the typical view of the Chicago skyline you’ve come to expect from this list, I felt like including the Chicago Riverwalk as it provides such an incredible setting for your photos! Hence the name, the Chicago Riverwalk can be found along the Chicago River. With the river running directly through the city, the Riverwalk gives an almost tunnel-like feel to your session as skyscrapers dwarf you from all around. It feels almost out of this world if it’s something you haven’t experienced yet, and is such a cool setting for any photography session!
Next up we have Buckingham Fountain! Found in Grant Park, the fountain has one of the coolest views of the Chicago skyline and is a fantastic option for your portraits. The fountain, as well as basically the entirety of Grant Park require a photography permit to have your session there which can make this option a little less enticing to some, if you’re down to get the permit though and work with the crowds that you’ll find at the park, this space will provide you with an awesome setting!
Last, but definitely not least on our list is Ping Tom Memorial Park, a nature park just north of Chinatown that gives a totally unique view of the Chicago skyline for your photos! Ping Tom Memorial Park being on the southern end of Chicago while also being in the city rather than on Lake Michigan gives it a unique view of the skyline you won’t find at any other location on the list! It’s also relatively less busy than a lot of the other locations which makes it an awesome option for those looking to avoid the crowds!
There you have it, 10 of my favorite locations throughout Chicago to capture gorgeous portraits with the city’s skyline as your backdrop! If you’re ready to book me for your own session at one of these locations, or somewhere else in Chicago that you’re in love with, send me an inquiry through my contact page. I’d love to hear from you so we can reserve your date and start planning your session today!