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 27 gardens and four natural areas. Don't forget the aquatic images that await along our miles of waterways and lakes.

General guidelines

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.
  • 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

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. Call (847) 835-5440 for more information on policies and fees.

Formal and/or large group photography/videography guidelines

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 if they wish to use the Garden's setting as the background for formal, posed photography/videography—see permit fee/terms below. This category includes weddings, family portraits, engagements, celebrations, or similar. Please note that the Garden does not accept reservations for wedding portraits or group photo sessions. No ceremonies are allowed at the Chicago Botanic Garden unless arranged in advance with Private Events.

Permit Fee: Formal and/or large group photography/videography
Daily, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.: $150
Daily, 1 – 2:30 p.m.: $250 (not available November 20, 2019 – January 5, 2020)

Photo permits issued excludes entry into the Orchid Show or Greenhouses February 8-March 29. Posed Photography is not permitted inside the exhibition.

Terms: Permits are only issued the day of your visit. The permit is valid only on the date it is issued, and is valid for one seating per photographer. The permit is valid for 1.5 hours after the time of the permit purchase. Permits issued between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. are valid only until 2:30 p.m. The fee for this permit may be paid by Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express. Cash and checks made out to the Chicago Botanic Garden will also be accepted. Permits are available at the Information & Membership Desks in the Visitor Center. The entire party must be present in order for the permit to be sold. 

Parking: Regular parking fees will apply for each vehicle within the party. Vehicles may load and unload passengers at the drop-off area within parking lot 1 or be directed by Security to an alternate location. No vehicles may pull up in front of the Visitor Center. 

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.

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 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!