5 picturesque Chicago locations to inspire budding photographers

Worry about the amount of screen time you allow your kids to consume? Don’t fret, there are fun ways to use those tablets they love beyond apps. Plan a day to go outside and teach the kids to appreciate their surroundings through the art of photography, using the cameras on their tablets or mobile phones. 

Photography is a lesson in light, shapes and juxtaposition. If you are also exploring a new neighborhood, you’re adding history and social studies to the mix. There is much to explore, learn about and photograph in our fine city.

Check out these picturesque locations around Chicago to inspire your budding photographer.

Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park

Easily accessible by all modes of transportation, the southern end of Lincoln Park is the perfect location for photo inspiration. The Nature Boardwalk offers a refreshing juxtaposition of skyscrapers and nature. Standing in one spot you can capture the cityscape in the background with the pond in the foreground, or squat down and capture the pattern on a plant. Start at the Nature Boardwalk then make your way north through the zoo and over to the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool on Fullerton.

Garfield Park Conservatory

It is rumored that the fictional Land of Oz was inspired by the greenery surrounding the boulevards of Chicago, where L. Frank Baum lived while writing the infamous tale, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” Make one visit to the Garfield Park Conservatory and you’ll believe it. This urban oasis is just as marvelous in the winter as it is in the spring. Easily accessible by the Green Line but also offering ample free parking, there is no reason to miss its majesty. The bright colors, vibrant shades of greens, turtles and koi fish will offer countless photo ops.  

Garden of the Phoenix

This Japanese Garden located in Jackson Park was originally designed and built as part of the 1893 World’s Fair. History is deeply rooted on these grounds but it is the beauty of the bridges, water, birds and cherry blossoms that will keep you coming back. Don’t miss Petals, the metal lotus sculpture; photograph the shadows and light bouncing from it.  

Graceland Cemetery & Arboretum 

The final resting place of some of Chicago’s most iconic residents, this “oasis of art, architecture and landscape” will serve as a worthy subject for your young photographers. Opulent headstones, monuments and simple boulders on their own island amidst the vast trees create the perfect scenery to practice framing photos. You’ll be glad photography has gone digital when you visit Graceland. 

Glenwood Sculpture Garden

Chicago is home to many neighborhoods with great street art but something about Rogers Park’s art scene sets itself apart. It may very well be the tiny jewel that is the Glenwood Sculpture Garden. Perusing from the sidewalk, it’s like a game of I Spy. What will you spot, as you turn your head or take a few steps to change your perspective? Capture your favorite sculpture and come back again and again to see what has changed. You can plan an entire day of strolling and shooting in Rogers Park; they even have a map to guide you.  

Be forewarned, you may end up with a tablet full of blurry images at the end of the day. Delete the bad ones and try again next time. You now have five beautiful places to try these tips out. Hopefully along the way you’ll learn something new and have a great time making memories.

Use these simple tips to introduce the art of photography 

Photo framing: The composition of a photo is the story. Challenge yourselves to not center your subject; get close to it or back away. Changing your angle changes your composition. 

Lighting: Pay attention to where the light is coming from. How is it impacting your subject? Don’t shoot with the sun behind your subject … unless you want to. This is an art project so have fun! 

Be selective: This is challenging for younger children because they don’t remember film. Encourage the kids to be mindful of the frame and what they are shooting. This will take patience. Try it, but if it doesn’t work, abandon this tip. 

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