THIS ARTICLE WAS UPDATED IN JUNE 2019. View the new location guide here!
For quite a while, I have had a physical location guide I hand to all clients looking for a different place for photos. I decided to bring my guide online so everyone can make use of the best places to take photos in the city and beyond. If you're looking for a place for your next family photos or just a place to take selfies, this guide will help quite a bit!
As a Kansas City wedding and engagement photographer, these are the places I feel provide the best lighting and background for incredible portraits.
Do you have any place to add to the list? I love checking out new locations!
1. Loose Park
If you're from Kansas City and you haven't heard of Loose Park for pictures, something is majorly wrong. Loose Park is one of the most requested photo locations because of the versatility in backgrounds. Within the park, you'll find a beautiful rose garden, several fountains, a couple bridges, an extremely interesting tree, and lush greenery. If you're looking for the classic and romantic feel, Loose Park is definitely a good choice. I would just caution you to be aware of the time of year when visiting the park. The Rose Garden will be stunning the majority of the year, but looks its best in early Spring. Obviously, winter is not a good time to see the roses in full bloom. You might still be able to find some roses late Fall, but if you want the best experience, visit the park in the Spring and Summer.
So, I mentioned an unusual tree. This tree is incredible! It almost asks as a bench, and if you're feeling adventurous, you can climb it for an even better seat.
2. The Colonnade
The Colonnade is a very unique area in Kansas City. It's buried right past downtown and may be difficult to find, but it's an incredible structure. It's a bit limited, but you will find an interesting area surrounded by the greenery of a park.
3. West Bottoms
I absolutely love photographing in the West Bottoms? You know why? It's so different than everything else in the city. It has that very modern, artistic, edgy feel. If you're looking for a different location, the West Bottoms are definitely the place to go. It is recommended scheduling your shoot on a weekend during the morning or afternoon. As nice as it is during the week, the area is also an industrial district. It's nearly impossible to get photos without cars in the background. My favorite place in the West Bottoms to photograph is under the 12th Street Bridge. There will always be cars parked under the 12th Street Bridge during the week. As for nights, the area can get a little interesting after dark, so I would recommend keeping your photo taking to daylight hours. If you're looking to stay until dusk to get a nice sunset picture, this isn't the best area for that.
4. Nelson-Adkins Museum of Art
Another contemporary location, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is an incredible backdrop for any sort of photo session. The sculpture park is filled with their iconic shuttlecocks, incredible walkways, and even a little pool (not for swimming). Indoor photo shoots, however, are not allowed. It is also important your photographer checks in with the business office before beginning the session. It doesn't cost anything to register, but the security is very strict about knowing who is using their property.
5. The Plaza
An iconic Kansas City location, the Plaza is great if you want to showcase your amazing city while still having that laid back park feel. The fountains are incredible and the backgrounds are phenomenal. My only recommendation is to go during a non-peak time. Weekend nights are definitely out, unless you want your photographer to spend the entire session working around hundreds of people. Weekday nights are generally pretty good as long as some event isn't going on.
6. Liberty Memorial
If you want a picture of you with the Kansas City skyline, the Liberty Memorial is the best place to go. You'll be able to see the entire city while still having versatility. There's an incredible walking trail and resting area right outside Union Station. If you want to take pictures inside Union Station, you will need a permit and they will charge you. Liberty Memorial, however, is extremely flexible when it comes to photographers. Just please don't climb on the walls. They will yell at you over the scary intercom thingie.
7. Union Station
If you're trying to keep warm during the winter, Union Station is a great option. Keep in mind, there is a $25 fee to shoot there.
I've only had a couple sessions in the Crossroads and would love to have more! It's very urban meets downtown. If you're liking the west bottoms feel, but want to add a bit more greenery and city life, the crossroads is where it's at. In the summer, you might even be able to catch the ivy while it's alive.
9. Bonner Springs Aquatic Park
This is one of the newest locations on my list. If you're looking for a park that stays green all year, this is the one. There are two long lines of Evergreen Trees lending way to a gorgeous backdrop. There's also a beautiful lake and charming gazebo. While in the area, we can also make our way to Downtown Bonner Springs for some small town charm.
10. Lake Lenexa
A standard Johnson County Park, Black Hoof Park at Lake Lenexa has some beautiful scenery. You'll find several bridges, playgrounds, and even some evergreens to add color during the winter months.
11. Shawnee Mission Park
This is the go to place in Johnson County if you want a variety of backdrops with a great opportunity for sunset pictures. There are so many beautiful trails, bridges, and creeks that make this location good for all types of shoots. It's also very pet friendly!
12. Antioch Park
If you're looking for a hidden gem of a park, Antioch Park is perfect. It's busy for locals, but is still under the radar for photographers. It is a beautiful park complete with a lake, bridges, and even some cool stepping stones in the water.
13. Wyandotte County Lake
If you're looking for a large park, but want to avoid the mainstream Shawnee Mission Park, Wyandotte County Lake is an awesome option. It's large, has much versatility, but you're able to very easily avoid the crowds.
14. Prairiefire Museum
If you're looking for the most unique architecture in Kansas City, Prairiefire is the place to go. Nowhere else can you find such incredible stained glass. The backgrounds are pretty limited, but every background you do get will be full of color.
15. Lowenstein Park
A hidden gem in Lee's Summit, this park is perfect for photo shoots, particularly on sunny days. There are so many shaded areas to explore; you won't even realize the harsh sun directly above. Since there is so much greenery around, this park is best explored in the Spring or early Summer. Within the park, you'll find a cute bridge, romantic arches, and an incredible waterfall. The scenic areas of the park are also in a small section, so as long as you know which direction to head, there is little walking involved.
16. Wells Overlook Park
This is an absolutely gorgeous hidden gem in Lawrence. The area is complete with grassy walking trails and a gorgeous overlook, where you can literally see the entire town. This is the absolute perfect location for sunset pictures because the overlook actually sits higher than the setting sun. It's hard to beat the quality of light atop that overlook.
17. Downtown Lawrence
If you're wanting more of a city and urban feel, downtown Lawrence is awesome. You can find some really interesting graffiti and gorgeous colors.
18. English Landing Park
If you're looking for a park with tons of diversity, English Landing Park might be right for you. With a historic bridge overlooking the Missouri river, you're able to get your pick of backdrops. While visiting Parkville, swing by Park University and Downtown Parkville. Whenever clients request Parkville, we tend to visit several different locations because they're all nearby and it's really hard to choose just one.
19. Parkville Nature Sanctuary
If you want a waterfall, this is the place to go. Parkville Nature Sanctuary is full of so much greenery and nature. It is perfect for the outdoor couple who loves adventure.
20. Burr Oak Woods
This location is fairly far away for me, but it may be my favorite location of all time. There is so much nature and wilderness around. It also looks a lot different than your stereotypical park. I can't wait to explore it a bit more in the spring.
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