10 Great Engagement Picture Locations in Kansas City
1. Union Station: Built in 1914, Union Station is 850,000 square feet of landmark Kansas City style. It features massive windows, beautiful sweeping lines and architecture with an ornate ceiling that is awe-inspiring and makes for great pictures. Warning: Union Station, despite being a publicly funded landmark, requires advance notice for professional photographs to be made there and a fee. In my experience the restrictions have been applied somewhat unevenly. Sometimes I have been told I should pay a fee, other times with clients we have just showed up and shot without anyone noticing, on another occasion I called and received advance permission. Update: since this blog post was originally published Union Station has been much more strict. They are now requiring a fee to have professional photography done there.
2. Liberty Memorial: For pictures that are distinctly Kansas City, Liberty Memorial has the unique advantage of providing a one-of-a-kind view of the Kansas City skyline. It’s beautiful sand colored construction and distinct architecture provides clean, elegant backgrounds. Even on calm days, Liberty Memorial seems to have constant wind. Its location on top of a hill doesn’t allow for much wind obstruction. It can be extra challenging to make flattering pictures if it looks like you are in a wind tunnel.
3. The River Market: The trend these days in engagement pictures is to work couples into urban environments and surroundings. The River Market has lots of those with lofts, a park, older buildings (some of the oldest architecture in the city in fact) and a wonderful Lewis and Clark mural located near the Broadway Bridge.
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4. The Crossroads (pictured at bottom): It’s the hipster haven nowadays. The Crossroads is another urban environment and presents an interesting mix of new architecture and old. The entire district is the creative center of Kansas City. Don’t schedule your engagement session for the evening of first Friday of each month, that’s when the popular First Fridays art walk takes place. Tons of people attend these which can make photography very difficult.
5. Loose Park (pictured above): located at Wornall Road and 51st Street, Loose Park is probably the standard location for Kansas City photographers. It’s a wonderful place with a Rose Garden and a nice array of bridges, older trees and blooming plants. When my clients suggest Loose Park, I generally try and suggest other locations because it is such a popular Kansas City photography location. On a weekend in the Spring or Fall, it can be a chore to find a spot where another photographer is not working!
6. The Country Club Plaza (pictured directly above): It’s a Kansas City institution and a popular choice for Kansas City engagement pictures. The Plaza is a large shopping district with Spanish-style architecture. The holidays are a very lovely time to shoot pictures there since the entire location is lit in holiday lighting.
7. Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center: Located in Blue Springs, Burr Oak Woods is a lesser known location but a wonderful spot for your Kansas City engagement pictures. Big trails with lots of native plants, wildflowers and trees provide for unique surroundings to help avoid the overdone locations like Loose Park and the Plaza.
8. Powell Gardens Located 30 miles east of the Kansas City area on U.S. Highway 50 near Centerview, Mo., Powell Gardens’ picture possibilities are amazing. The gardens are immaculate with beautiful plants and landscaping everywhere you look. They also have occasional art exhibits. Aside from the drawback of the driving distance, be advised they also require a fee for professional photographers to shoot there.
9. Shawnee Mission Park: A Johnson County treasure, Shawnee Mission Park is an expansive space with many trails, water features and scenic areas. It is an underused location for Kansas City engagement photos.
10. Kauffman Memorial Gardens: Located at 4800 Rockhill Road, the Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden is small but packs a mighty punch. It doesn’t require you to pack your walking shoes like Loose Park or Powell Gardens and features intense amounts of color, good light and beautiful backdrops. Be advised, they have rules for photographers. Most of the rules are common sense (i.e. no climbing on walls, stay on the paths, don’t stomp on any plants, etc.)