Photography at the Garden
There is no more beautiful, fascinating place for photography than the Chicago Botanic Garden. Whatever the season, whatever the time or type of day, the Garden is a paradise for photographers. Focus in and capture the exquisite details of an endless variety of plants. Step back for breathtaking panoramic scenes of our 28 gardens and four natural areas. Don't forget the aquatic images that await along our miles of waterways and lakes.
Photography Contest 2022
We encourage all nature photography enthusiasts to submit their photos of the Chicago Botanic Garden to the International Garden Photographer of 2022.
We are delighted that you are considering the Chicago Botanic Garden as the location for your photos and videos. To ensure a positive experience for you, while maintaining a pleasant experience for our many visitors, please be aware of the rules and guidelines that follow.
Photo Guidelines for all Photographers
- Please do not enter flower beds, plant displays, or mulched areas. Remain on the pathways and grassy turf at all times.
- Face coverings are required when 6 feet of social distancing cannot be maintained, including on congested pathways, whenever indoors, and when talking with Garden staff. If you are sick, or have been in contact with someone who is sick, please stay home.
- No alcoholic beverages may be brought into the Garden.
- No props, furniture, luggage, or clothing changes are permitted.
- Do not disturb or remove plants, plant labels, or containers.
- Do not block entrances, pathways, or Garden areas for use by others in any way.
- Drone photography is not allowed on the grounds.
- The Garden reserves the right to restrict access to certain areas, or revoke this permit if its conditions are not met.
- Remember that the Garden is a public place where visitors are welcome in all public areas, and that regular business continues during normal operating hours. Some festivals and special events draw exceptionally large crowds. A listing of events is posted online at chicagobotanic.org/calendar.
Amateur photography/videography guidelines
Individual photographers are welcome to photograph the plants and gardens of the Chicago Botanic Garden for their personal use and enjoyment. No commercial use is allowed, and no compensation may be received for plant or Garden images.
Film student projects
Students are welcome to use the plants and gardens of the Chicago Botanic Garden as a backdrop for videography/photography. No commercial use is allowed and no compensation may be received for images. Please check in at the Visitor Center Information Membership desks at the time of your visit; sessions must conclude by 4 p.m.
Commercial photography/videography guidelines
Media photography, commercial photography, video, and film shoots must be arranged at least ten days in advance of the shoot. Email @email for more information on policies and fees.
Formal and/or large group photography/videography guidelines
This category includes weddings, family portraits, engagements, celebrations, quinceañeras, or similar. The general photography/videography guidelines outlined here are intended for all guests, but in addition to observing the photo restrictions, photographers must obtain a permit in advance if they wish to use the Garden's setting as the background for formal, posed photography/videography. Permit reservations are rain or shine, no refunds. There are no indoor building or greenhouse options for photography. Garden closures may occur for private events. To avoid congestion in the Visitor Center, please meet and collect your party outside in front of the Visitor Center. Please do not congregate in front of the Information or Membership Desks. No ceremonies are allowed at the Chicago Botanic Garden unless hosted in conjunction with a catered reception and arranged in advance with Private Events.
Be sure to review our photography guidelines before you come to ensure you get the most out of your visit. You can also review our suggested Garden walks for photography ideas.
Experienced photographers as well as the newest of amateurs benefit from the wide selection of photography courses offered through the Joseph Regenstein, Jr. School of the Chicago Botanic Garden. You might wish to visit the Garden's Lenhardt Library, which contains 150,000 books, to explore those on garden photography. Stop by the Garden Shop as well, where photography books are available. Don't forget to visit the Garden on Facebook or Twitter to post about your photographic experience, and then post your photos via Flickr.
Some friendly reminders
We encourage you to visit the Garden at your leisure to scout locations in advance for your photography/videography session. Regular parking fees apply. Garden members park for free. Note: membership benefits apply only to personal vehicles and not to commercial limousines, vans, or buses.
Visit chicagobotanic.org/events for information on having a wedding reception or other private event at the Garden.
Please remember that any party that has booked a private event in a particular location of the Garden has exclusive rights to that reserved area.
The Garden reserves the right to refuse admittance for photography/videography and/or to change its photo policy without advance notice.
During your visit, you may be filmed, videotaped, and/or photographed by a Garden employee or contract photographer. Your attendance serves as permission for the use of your image by the Garden and its constituents.
Thank you for choosing the Garden for your wedding, family, and individual portraits!