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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you are over on the Kansas side, I absolutely love Sar-Ko-Par Trails. Located in Lenexa at 87th and Lackman, this park allows for a rustic yet modern feel. Complete with an old style barn, train tracks, an incredible pond, and unusual statues, this park has everything you could ever want in a park setting. The possibilities are endless!
For such a modern Missouri town, Lee’s Summit has a lot of possibilities. Unity Village is one of my absolute favorite places to photograph. It feels very much like Loose Park without all the traffic. You’ll find fountains, a rose garden, and incredible architecture. The area is much smaller than Loose Park, but you’ll find almost as many picture taking opportunities. You won’t find as many trees and greenery, but the architecture makes up for it. I would recommend not scheduling a session for the weekend because it is also a very popular wedding venue. You might be working around wedding parties, specifically on Saturdays. Weddings always come first, so some of the best areas might be blocked off.
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.
Grinter’s Sunflower Field
Ok, this place is seriously amazing! It is only open once a year around Labor Day because that’s when the sunflowers bloom. You will see miles and miles of sunflowers! Usually the sunflowers are in bloom for 2-3 weeks, but it is recommended to go as early as possible. Toward the end, the sunflowers will be picked over. However, the earlier you go, the busier it will be. The fields are typically packed and it will be hard to find a spot without other photographers. Some photographers spend all day hosting mini session. It really is that popular, but it is soooooo worth it. Be sure to check their Facebook page before heading out because they have been known to close randomly because of overpopulation or rainy weather.
Wells Overlook Park
I actually just found out about this location a few weeks ago when a couple suggested we do engagement photos at the spot where he proposed. 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.
If you are based in Topeka, this park really has it all. From a carousel to beautiful greenery and stunning lakes, Gage Park is the perfect backdrop for any setting. I tend to shoot a few weddings in Topeka each year and this park is always one to visit.
Emporia State University
For some reason, I tend to book a decent amount of weddings in Emporia. I’m not complaining! The campus is beautiful and a perfect backdrop for any wedding. Additionally, sometimes you can sweet talk campus police into giving you rooftop access. A groom actually used to work at campus police, so we were given unrestricted access to the campus. The view was incredible.
Seven Bridges Housing Development
This is a relatively new area on my radar, and I would not recommend it if you are looking for diversity. The area is actually located in the front of a housing development, but you would never know judging by the pictures. You get an incredible waterfall mixed with an old school medieval charm. The area actually looks like a castle, mote and all. If you are up north, this is a hidden gem worth checking out.
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.