New Chicago Photo Permit Rules for Popular Locations

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For Chicago’s popular and landmark locations, the answer is most likely YES. You will need a photo permit.

There are a lot of lovely non-permit areas to take your pictures at around the city, but if you have your heart set on a specific Chicago skyline view, just keep in mind it may require a photo permit. Make sure to consider this and leave enough time to obtain the permit.

Below is some info about the most popular photo locations around the city…

The conservatories: Garfield Park & Lincoln Park

young girl in pink dress at location with photo permit

If you are looking for a lush green background, especially during the colder weather months, this is the perfect option.

Reservations are free and required to enter the conservatories. Prior to booking a non-commercial media photo permit, make a reservation online for entry to ensure there is space available on the day and time of your permit. Reservations are available two weeks out. Both the proof of reservation and permit will be required to show when arriving at a conservatory for photography. Use the links below for conservatory reservations.

For Lincoln Park you must obtain a permit directly from them: (312) 742-2000


This year the Chicago Park District began requiring permits to shoot some of the most popular views of the Chicago skyline. You can get your photo permit online through the Chicago Park District.

  • Buckingham Fountain

  • Humboldt Park Formal Garden

  • Jackson Park Osaka Garden

  • Montrose Harbor Dr. Skyline View

  • Museum Campus Skyline View (Solidarity Dr.)

  • North Ave. Beach – Chess Pavilion

  • Ping Tom Park Pagoda


You can get the photo permit from the Chicago Park District.

Lincoln Park: Nature Boardwalk, Conservatory, & Honeycomb

The People’s Gas Pavilion/Honeycomb is a great spot with a view of the skyline. You must secure a permit to use it, and it is frequently in use on weekends in the summer and fall.

Permits for these locations are administered by Lincoln Park Zoo.


Lincoln Park is large and is also managed by the Chicago Park District. Here are additional spots that require a permit:

  • Lincoln Park Great Garden (south of the Conservatory)

  • Laughter Gazebo at Lincoln Park North Pond

  • Lincoln Park Plaza West of North Pond Restaurant

  • Lincoln Park Rosenbaum Gazebo

  • Chess Pavilion at North Avenue Beach

Permits for these locations are administered by the Chicago Park District.
Chicago Park District

Buckingham Fountain

The fountain is typically on from spring through late fall, and permits are managed by the Chicago Park District.

engaged couple embracing in front of fountains by Jenny Grimm Photography

Maggie Daley Park


Some of the lesser known beautiful spots in Chicago. Perfect for a Spring or Summer photoshoot!

  • Humboldt Park Formal Garden

  • Jackson Park Osaka Garden

  • Ping Tom Park Pagoda(the park does not require a permit only when using the pagoda structure)

Photo permits for both gardens are administered by the Chicago Park District.

couple standing in front of blue mural in location with photo permit

Millennium Park

couple spinning in field of flowers by Chicago engagement photographer

The Bean, Pritzker Pavilion, Lurie Garden, and Crown Fountain all require permits.

They are administered by MB Real Estate. To get more information call (312) 744-6050

toddler in front of Chicago bean with bubbles by Jenny Grimm Photography


These Gardens have many beautiful options for photos, but has a hefty photo permit fee, parking fee, and you can only do photos during the peak sunlight hours (not ideal for photos).

toddler stopping to smell flowers by Chicago family photographer

Bahá’í House of Worship

This location has a beautiful outdoor garden area. There is no cost for a permit, but you do need to email to get approval.


There is no permit fee for here, but you do need to email with your name, the number of people, time, and purpose.

Photo Permit…please note:

Permit fees are never included in the price of a session. We are happy to help in obtaining the permit, but it’s important to know that you’ll be responsible for the costs of any location permits. Please make sure to let us know right away if you want your session somewhere that requires a permit. Most permits require 2+ weeks, and some of the offices can be difficult to reach. If you aren’t up for paying extra for a permit, we have a detailed list of our favorite locations in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs that we share when we session plan our shoot together!

Ready to book your next shoot?