Outside of figuring out what to wear for your photo shoot (which is always the hardest part), I find that my client’s aren’t sure where to take their photos at.

Over the years, I have photographed families, weddings and engagement all over Illinois, and I have found that some locations make my heart swoon every time I shoot there.

Here are my 11 favorite locations in the Chicago suburbs.

1. Mayslake Forest Preserve // Oak Brook : I call this location a hidden gem because I have yet to see any other photographers shooting at this spot. Nestled in a beautiful nature walk around, is a gorgeous tree-filled area. I adore the tall grass, trees and beautiful lake.

This spot is extra private, and for all my dog parents, this is the perfect spot for photos with the fur baby because there is a dog park just steps away from this scenic spot.

2. Morton Arboretum* // Lisle : Morton Arboretum is PACKED with endless gorgeous spots for photos. There are miles upon miles of beautiful trees, open fields, seasonal flowers. I truly believe you can pretty much take photos anywhere here, and your background will be a-maz-ing.

If you want to take your photos here, I recommend obtaining a photo permit.

3. St. James Farm // Warrenville : No matter what season you are taking photos during, St. James Farm is a great location. It has open fields, lots of trees, gorgeous black barn doors and a pretty white fence.

TIP: This location is VERY popular in the fall, so just know that if you are shooting on a weekend it can be crowded, and we may have to wait for the best spots.

4. Danada House // Wheaton : 

5. Independence Grove // Libertyville : This massive forest preserve has so many options for outdoor photos. Between the open prairie and woodlands and beautiful lake, I adore photographing at this location, especially in the fall. You can even rent a boat or canoe onsite. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed inside the forest preserve.

6. Busse Woods // Schaumburg : Busse Woods is a huge forest preserve that has it all. I have only explored an itty, bitty portion of it, but what I have see is oh-so-pretty. If you are  interested in this location, I encourage you to pop by and check out what you love the most because it is impossible to explore it all on the day of your shoot.

7. Northwestern Campus // Evanston : Between the gorgeous ivy covered building, beautiful architectural details and Lake Michigan backdrops that overlook Chicago, the campus has it all when it comes to photo backgrounds. Nestled inside the campus is a gorgeous secret garden too.

8. Cantigny Park* // Wheaton : Rose gardens, wood pergolas and a gorgeous reflection pool make the acres of this historic estate photo worthy. I adore this location for both wedding days and engagement sessions. A photo permit must be secured in advanced to use this location, and just note, pups aren’t allowed here.

9. Chicago Botanic Gardens* // Glencoe : Confession, I haven’t photographed here (yet). It is SO high on my list of places I am dying to shoot at. I have stalked the photos from this magnificent property, and it is packed with gorgeous flowers, trees and plants. Have I sold you on it?!? :)

10. Dominican University* // River Forest : I have a thing for ivy … especially when it graces buildings as pretty as the ones at Dominican University. The beautiful campus is open to anyone who wants to take photos here. A photo permit needed to use this location for your photos, but I promise you that it is worth it because it is one gorgeous spot!!!

11. Ryerson Forest Preserve // Riverwoods : If you are looking for a spot that has a lush forest preserve, a beautiful white barn, nature paths and a log cabin (yes, they have an adorable log cabin), then this is your spot! There is SO much variety here, and I adore it because of this.

* = photo permit required at these locations. Brittany Bekas clients are responsible for obtaining photo permit if they are interested in having their photos at these locations.

Did I miss a spot that you love? Leave me a note in the comments as I am always looking for new locations to shoot at.

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