Chicago is an amazing city that is filled with life and so much character around each and every corner. This makes downtown Chicago photography sessions so incredible because there are so many different things you can choose to do for your photoshoot. 

One amazing place to capture these photos in the Art Institute of Chicago! There are always so many different things to do and capture throughout the photoshoot and there is something new around every corner. Plus you can plan a session later in the day and capture the stunning night skyline as well!

So, if you are looking to have the perfect downtown Chicago photography session, take a look at what is so great about the Art Institute and some tips for your session! 

About The Art Institute of Chicago

While the Art Institute is an incredible place to visit on a normal day (the art there is breathtaking), it is also the perfect place for a photoshoot. It may seem a bit unconventional, but there are a few reasons why this is such a great place for your session. 

One, there are so many floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the museum that not only provide so much natural light (which is great since you can’t take flash photography inside the museum), but you also get great views of the city behind you through some of them. 

They also help give your photos a modern feel while still making them unique and one-of-a-kind. 

The Art Institute is also massive and there are so many different areas throughout that you can sneak away to during your session. Some of them have more of a historical feel to them, and some of them are much more modern, so you’ll be able to have a great mix of backdrops in one location. 

While the actual galleries and hallways throughout the museum are incredible, one of the best things about the Art Institute is all of the staircases. This may sound a bit weird, but there are stunning spiral staircases with floor-to-ceiling windows behind them that make them feel even more grand. 

There is also a more traditional style, the “grand staircase,” which is an incredible place to go if you are looking for something to balance out the more modern feel throughout other parts of the museum. 

What is so great about these areas is that for most of them, you are able to view them from below and above which gives you a ton of options when it comes to different angles and compositions for your photos! 

You can do a mix of indoor and outdoor photos here as they do have gardens that are amazing! This gives you a ton of flexibility when it comes to picking locations and having a variety of photos without feeling like you have to go to multiple different locations in a short timeframe! 

It is important to note as well that they do have a photography policy and a proposal form that you have to fill out prior to being able to have your session at the museum. While this isn’t a major hurdle to having your session here, it is important that you make sure you are following all of the rules and guidelines of the institute! 

Downtown Chicago at Night

If you are looking for an extra special touch on top of photos at the Art Institute, heading out into the city after dark will do just that. The lights of the city create a dreamy and romantic backdrop for the final part of your session. 

When it comes to these photos, there are a few things you can keep in mind to get the best pictures. First, think about the type of city photos that you want. Are you looking to capture the whole skyline in the photos? Just a few parts of the city that you love?

This will help you as you pick out where to actually go for these photos. Since the city is so big, you’re not going to be able to cover it all. However, if you do have a few spots that you know are a must, you can make sure to have those at the top of your list! 

I would also suggest looking for some side streets or smaller areas where you can go for some of the photos. We did this with AJ and Aaron and were able to capture some stunning pictures of the city at night without too many people or lights. 

You could also think about if there are any specific places that are significant to you and your partner. Whether that was the coffee shop that you met or the pizza place where you had your first date. 

You can head over there during your session to capture that memory all lit up against the night sky! 

About AJ and Aaron

I had the opportunity to capture AJ and Aaron’s session in downtown Chicago, and it was amazing! We started at the Art Institute and had so much fun exploring all of the different areas of the museum. 

There were so many different benches and spots for them to sit down and capture beautiful photos. The sun also started to go down as we were in the museum, so we were able to catch the city starting to light up behind us from inside through the incredible windows. 

After the Art Institute, we headed into the city to capture some photos against the night sky. These added such a romantic touch to their gallery and were the perfect way to balance out the light and bright feeling of the photos in the museum! 

I’ve known AJ and Aaron for years and have also worked with Aaron’s sister over the years so this session was so much fun and they feel almost like family now so I was honored to be able to capture this moment for them!

Tips for Downtown Chicago Photography Sessions 

Wear comfortable clothes (especially shoes) 

First and foremost, make sure you are wearing comfortable clothes, especially comfortable shoes. With downtown sessions in general, you are most likely going to be walking around more than you would at other places and the last thing you want is for your feet to start hurting halfway through the session. 

When it comes to your clothes, you want to make sure that you are comfortable and confident in what you are wearing. There are no rules on what you need to wear so you can go as casual or as dressed up as you feel like! 

Understand there are going to be people around 

Just like any other city, you are going to run into other people during your downtown Chicago photography session. As much as we would love to have a whole space to ourselves, in a big city like this there are always going to be other people around. 

It is important to understand that beforehand and just ignore them. Even if you feel like you are doing something weird during your session, no one around you is going to give a second thought to it. The odds are that you will never even see these people again. 

So, don’t let the fact that there are other people around stop you from having fun, enjoying this time, dancing in the street, or doing anything else that you and your partner want to do during your session. 

After all, these photos are only for the two of you, so it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks! 

Don’t forget to have fun! 

Finally, don’t forget to have fun! This is a super exciting thing to do with your partner and although it can be a little nerve wracking at first, having your photos taken is so much fun and gives you and your partner something to look back on to remember this time in your life. 

I also completely understand that for most people, this may be the first time you have even stepped in front of a camera professionally. It’s important to remember, though, that you are not doing this for anyone else. 

This is just for you and your partner, so don’t worry about being awkward or not smiling perfectly. These photos are here to show you and your partner’s love in an authentic way and freeze this moment in time for you forever! 

Final Thoughts on Downtown Chicago Photoshoots 

Hopefully these downtown Chicago photography session tips help you as you plan out your session in this amazing city. At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is that this is supposed to be a really fun and memorable time so be sure to enjoy this. 

If you are still looking for the perfect photographer to capture this moment in time for you and your partner, I’d love to connect. You can click here to learn more about my photography services or you can head over here to get in touch

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