Location Guide: Tried & True KC

Nelson-Atkins Museum


The Nelson-Atkins Museum is about as Kansas City as it gets. The Nelson is another spot perfect for single-location sessions because of how much space is available on any given day. The architecture is stunning and timeless, the lawn is vast, and the overall character of the location is superior.


I've spent a lot of time at the Nelson on my own, and I've had the opportunity to shoot one session there! I know my way around pretty well, and I have quite a few spots in mind that I know would be perfect for any kind of session. In the spring and summer, the lawn is sunny and bright green, the trees are full, and the walking trails around the lawn are spotted with colorful flowers. In the fall, the trees surrounding the lawn create a canopy of bright yellow leaves over the steps leading up to the museum. And year-round, the architecture makes a perfect, romantic backdrop.

Jerry Smith Park

(Saeger Woods Conservation Area)


Jerry Smith Park is a prairie preserve and public park in the Martin City area. It's located further south than most of the locations included in this guide, so it's perfect for those of my clients who live in South KC, but trust me, it's so beautiful that it's worth a bit of a drive anyway!


The park is packed with tallgrass and stunning wildflowers in the late spring and summer, and full of bright orange and yellow in the fall. Just off Holmes and Prospect, the entrance to the park is easy to find, and the main trail leads right into a beautiful spot in the prairie clearing. The clearing turns into a mowed trail that loops through the entirety of the property, which gives us a ton of variety in environment.


UPDATE: As of late April 2023, the tallgrass and wildflowers in the photo to the left and the first three photos below have been mowed down for maintenance, but there is another spot in the park that works just as well as seen in the second row of photos below.

West Bottoms


Packed with character, the West Bottoms is one of my favorite photo locations in Kansas City. Its beauty lies in its versatility - you'll find old buildings, empty roads, bridges, bright and neutral colors, and down the road, an open field scattered with colorful shipping containers.


This area works year-round! Not only is it vast, but it's also constantly changing with new paint, new structures, new businesses, and more. The West Bottoms offers a cool industrial vibe, amazing architecture, and the feeling of classic, timeless KC.

Olathe Prairie Center


Located off 135th and Santa Fe, the Olathe Prairie Center is a Johnson County gem just a few minutes from downtown Olathe. It boasts 600 acres of prairie preserve, but the most beautiful spot just happens to be right off the main trail from the parking lot.


During the late spring and summer, it's packed with wildflowers and tallgrass. In the fall, the trees surrounding the prairie clearing turn bright orange and yellow. If you're looking for dreamy, earthy photos at golden hour, this is the place.

Crossroads


The Crossroads neighborhood is known for being eclectic and artsy, and I always tell my clients that it's the best shoot location for an artsy senior. What it lacks in uniformity it makes up for with eccentricity, and that's how I would describe myself at 18 and every other nonconforming high school senior I've had the opportunity to work with.


Like the West Bottoms, the Crossroads neighborhood is unique and vast enough to last an entire one-hour session. Be prepared for some walking!

Kansas City Public Library, Central Branch


Arguably one of the most beautiful and recognizable buildings in Kansas City, the downtown library is a gem of a location for photography. Inside, outside, on the roof, and even in front of its parking garage across the street—you could spend an entire session at and around the library and still end up with a huge variety of photos.

Union Station


Union Station can speak for itself. As one of Kansas City's most famous buildings, it's difficult to describe its glory accurately. From a photographer's point of view, it offers a calm urban feel without the rough edges of the West Bottoms. Its bright, neutral exterior provides a minimalistic look for photos, yet so many option for backdrops.


Because Union Station is relatively localized and easy to navigate, it's great for family sessions, but it's also very versatile. The exterior boasts stunning architecture on all sides, as well as lots of leading lines, neutral colors, and places to sit! Other nearby spots perfect for photos are the Liberty Memorial and the Main Street bridge overlooking the train tracks.

River Market


The River Market, just like its neighbors the West Bottoms and Crossroads, is an urban, artsy spot perfect for anyone looking for something a little different. The River Market neighborhood is full of gems, including exposed and painted brick walls, empty streets, colorful front stoops, and a south-facing backdrop of Downtown's Garment and Library Districts.


The River Market is another vast area containing lots of mini locations. It's perfect for single-location sessions, yet it's just a short drive away from the West Bottoms, Crossroads, and Union Station.

Bingham-Waggoner Estate & Downtown Independence


The Bingham-Waggoner Estate is a site on the National Register of Historic Places located in Independence, MO. It boasts 19 acres of land just north of Independence Square, a super cute downtown area full of restaurants and even more history. The stunning mansion on the property provides a romantic backdrop for couples' photos, and the surrounding trees are full and shady in the spring, summer, and fall.


Not only is the estate stunning, Independence Square is an amazing photo location as well. It's full of antiquated buildings and cute businesses, specifically Clinton's Soda Fountain, a diner opened in 1988 in a building from the 1800s. It's a blast from the past, and shooting a senior or couple's session here would be a dream.


Learn more about the estate here.

Learn more about Independence Square here and Clinton's Soda Fountain here.

Loose Park


Loose Park is hands-down one of the most romantic photo locations in Kansas City. It's beautiful year-round, somehow even in the winter months, but it looks its best during the late spring, summer, and fall when it's full to the brim with brightly colored plants and sunshine.


The park, specifically the Rose Garden area, is a great option for a natural setting that's a bit more landscaped than places like the Olathe Prairie Center and Jerry Smith Park.


As the weather warms and flowers bloom, the Rose Garden and the immediate areas around it become incredibly busy. If you can stand the heat and humidity and are comfortable shooting in front of other people, we're good to go! We can stick to the Rose Garden and ponds or wander the grassy parts of the park for more wide open spaces - it all depends on what you're looking for.

Your campus!


Despite what you might think, shooting on campus isn't just for high school and college seniors. If you met your soulmate in college, or even in high school, let's shoot there (as long as it's not located multiple states away)! I've shot on college campuses in both Missouri and Kansas, and I've been waiting patiently to shoot on a high school campus.


Our campuses hold special places in our hearts. They're perfect for honoring the time you spent there learning, growing, and having fun. Since I don't know the specifics of all campuses in terms of the best photo spots, we'll chat ahead of time to figure out the most photogenic areas as well as any areas extra special to you and your journey there. And remember, I'm always down to travel for my clients!

I've shot photos all over Kansas City, but I still have a few locations I've yet to cross off my bucket list. You'll find some of those locations below, some super popular and others less well-known—I may have been there before, or I may have just day dreamed about it, but nonetheless, I want to take photos of you there!

WEBSTER GARAGE


Pair it with the Crossroads.


Although Webster Garage is located in the Crossroads, it's such an amazing location for people who love Kansas City and its architecture that it deserves its own spot on the list!


Located just across the street from the Kauffman Center, Webster Garage is a parking garage with a fantastic view of downtown KC from the top. I haven't shot here yet, but trust me, the views are beyond.


BOK FINANCIAL LOT


Pair it with the Kansas City Public Library, Central Branch.


Sometimes the most random locations end up being the most photogenic, and this is one of them! The Bok Financial parking lot is location on the corner of Baltimore and 11th, just down the street from the downtown library.


Here's the cool thing about it: it's a street level lot that looks just like the top of a parking garage. You'll have beautiful views of the financial district's refined architecture paired with the urban ruggedness of an empty parking lot.

Penn Valley Park


Penn Valley Park is an urban park just south of the Liberty Memorial. Certain spots in the park overlook the entirety of Downtown KC, most popularly from the Scout Lookout - think the view from the ledge of the Liberty Memorial, but better. Similar to the Nelson and the Plaza, the park is perfect for branding photography if your brand revolves around Kansas City, but it still works for all other types of sessions!


The park's trails wind down and around the Liberty Memorial, opening up tons of opportunities for photos on and around the memorial, and even across the street at Union Station.


Learn more about the park here.

Shawnee Mission Park


Shawnee Mission, KS


Details coming soon!

Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area


Blue Springs, MO


Details coming soon!