Best Photo Locations near Chicago


As a freelance photographer for the past two years I have definitely stumbled across some great photo spots within the Chicagoland area. Living in Illinois it is difficult to find those amazing landscapes you see posted from all over the world, so I have set out to find the best I can get with Illinois. I live in a more country part of Illinois but am still very close to the city so I have experienced it all. I hope these spots can really give my fellow photographers out there a great idea on where to get some really neat shots in Illinois. I have had great luck getting some really neat shots that have been featured in calendars, magazines, and even peoples mansions across the country.

I will update this post accordingly but to begin I am going to feature my personal top five favorite locations in Illinois.

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    [two_third_last]LaSalle / Kendall Counties – These areas are fantastic! Of course during the middle of the day the fields won’t look to great. However, if you get out on a nice party cloudy morning or evening, you can catch some amazing sunsets/sunrises! These areas are about one hour west of the city.[/two_third_last]
    LaSalle / Kendall Counties – These areas are fantastic! Of course during the middle of the day the fields won’t look to great. However, if you get out on a nice party cloudy morning or evening, you can catch some amazing sunsets/sunrises! These areas are about one hour west of the city.

    • Matthiessen and Starved Rock State Park – Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Park are outstanding! Beautiful in fall/winter/spring, and featuring amazing caves, waterfalls, and rock formations, as well as many great hiking trails. Located in Utica, IL and is about an hour and a half from downtown Chicago.

      ©Luke Strothman Photography

      ©Luke Strothman Photography

    • Silver Springs State Park – Located in Yorkville, IL, Silver Springs is a great place to take photos. I have done many portraits, landscapes, nature, and even some wildlife shots here. It is very easy to access, has great hiking paths, and outstanding lakes for fishing.

      ©Luke Strothman Photography

      ©Luke Strothman Photography

    • Chicago River (Hancock Side) – This is the picture I have been featured in a calendar for, as well as many canvas prints sold on the loyal 500px.com website. The Chicago River at night is absolutely gorgeous and can make for some simply outstanding long exposures!

      ©Luke Strothman Photography

      ©Luke Strothman Photography

    • Millennium Park (The Cloud Gate) – Everyone knows about Millennium Park in Chicago, IL. (Some may not which is why I am sharing) To all who have seen the famous pictures on photo sharing websites that contain the “bean” like image, well the location is Millennium Park. A true favorite of mine to photograph. Long night exposures, or bright day time exposures with the skyline reflections can make for some amazing photography. This location is always very busy so if you want a shot when not many people are around you are best to go around late evening on a weekday.

      ©Luke Strothman Photography

      ©Luke Strothman Photography

    I enjoy shooting freelance and am always out and about looking for new locations. I will try to update this post quite regularly by adding on additional locations. Please like and share if you enjoy my posts so I can keep them coming to you. If you see a photo in my gallery and would like a location guide, please drop a comment in here and I will update this guide with the location and links to the pictures I have taken at each scene.

    It’s too bad Illinois doesn’t have a gorgeous mountain view, or a nice ocean shore, or much of anything to be honest compared to other areas around the world. But I try to make the best of it and I appreciate photography so I am trying to share the word on some great locations that I enjoy.