Are you a mom who is struggling with ideas for where to take your family’s next portrait? Do all the same-old locations leave you cold? Are you frustrated with locations that don’t capture the story and spirit of your family?
This guide will help.
We have assembled, dissected, researched and curated a list of 101 of what we feel are the best portrait locations Kansas City (and surrounding area) has to offer.
This list features the locations a description as well as any relevant webpages, phone numbers and GPS coordinates.
How to Use This Guide: Clickable Coordinates and Directions
Each location (where possible) features an address or approximate location and clickable GPS coordinates. When you click on our coordinates link of each listing you will be taken to a Google Map featuring your current location and directions to the specific portrait location. If your computer or device is not set to share your current location it will simply show the portrait destination.
While many of these locations are free of charge, many of these locations are private property, require a fee or at least a courtesy phone call before showing up with family and photographer. So be sure to read our notes and descriptions about each location.
A Word of Caution: Location Isn’t Everything
Sometimes, it’s tempting to believe the location makes or breaks the portrait. After more than 20 years as a professional photographer here is truth we have learned about beautiful photography: an effective portrait is much more about what the photograph says about the people in the photograph than it is where the photograph was taken.
- Shawnee Mission Park observation tower
The Shawnee Mission Park observation tower offers expansive views of the park and beyond. It extends more than 50 feet in the air. Naturally any time you get that high off the ground wind can be a factor for your portrait session. It is a fairly popular spot in the park so be prepared for lots of bystanders and other people.
Location: Near W. John Barkley Dr. and Ridgeview Road. Tower is located near southwest corner of the park
Phone: (913) 888-4713
- Ted Grinter’s Sunflower Field
September 1 is peak color and the sunflowers are only photogenic for no more than two weeks. The window of time for peak blooms is narrow and the field is no secret, so it can be a bit of a madhouse of people making photos. Photography is stunning and FREE at this location, so a donation is much appreciated (and well earned in our opinion) at one of the two donation boxes the Grinter family has at the field.
Location: 24154 Stillwell Rd. Lawrence, KS 66044
- Waterfall at Bass Pro Shop in Independence
We only discovered this location recently. This is a picturesque place set some distance away from the Bass Pro Shop development in Independence. Among the drawbacks is a long walk from nearby parking to get to it. Be careful! It is on an active street with a fair amount of traffic and there isn’t much space to stand for a photographer and an average size family so vehicle versus pedestrian accidents are a higher risk.
Location: East Bluff Drive in Independence, Mo.
- White Alloe Creek Conservation Area waterfall
This waterfall is one of our favorites and either goes to and comes from nearby Riss Lake (we’re not sure.) It is a bit of a hike to get to it. Be sure to study the park map near the entrance to the park to be able to locate the exact location. Our GPS coordinates will take you to the park. Be careful after a rainstorm because the peaceful creek gets crazy after a rainshower!
Location: MO Highway 9 and 12th Street Parkville, Missouri
- Briarcliff Waterfall
A large, man-made waterfall extending from the upper crust Briarcliff shopping center overlooking downtown Kansas City. There’s a pond and beautiful wood bridge that offers wonderful scenery for a portrait. Drawbacks to this place are its popularity. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait for someone else’s portrait session to wrap up. It can be a bit windy some days too.
Location: Near intersection of NW Valley Lane and NW Platte Drive in Riverside, MO
- Prairie Center
A little known jewel in west Olathe that has beautiful open spaces of natural prairie grass. Just be sure to call ahead of time because they aren’t accustomed to portrait sessions taking place there. There are no dogs allowed here either. Features very pretty hiking trails and a pond with a wood dock for some wonderful settings.
Location: 26325 W 135th, Olathe, KS 66061
Phone: (913) 856-7669
- Overland Park Arboretum
A beautiful location but the arboretum is a stickler about portrait photography sessions. You (or your photographer) must pay for a permit that is $25 per hour and schedule in advance with the arboretum.
Location: 8909 W. 179 St., Overland Park, KS 66013
- Loose Park
Among the most classic Kansas City locations of them all for family portraits, Loose Park features a rose garden, ponds, wooden bridges, beautiful landscaping and unique trees with distinctive trunks and big heavy branches. Drawbacks to this location are its immense popularity for photography sessions. During the autumn peak color, it is a madhouse of photographers and their clients. This will only become worse as more locations are increasing rules and bans on portrait photographers (see Kauffman Gardens, below). We usually recommend our clients pick another location that won’t be so
Location: 214 W. Concord Ave. Kansas City, MO 64112
- Kauffman Gardens
(UPDATE: As of July 1, 2015 They Are No Longer Allowing Portrait Photography of Any Kind) Alas, we photographers couldn’t have nice things like Kauffman Gardens for long. The garden was a spectacular location for portrait sessions that also have the unique feature of an indoor tropical area that was awesome when the weather wasn’t cooperating. Too many photographers and their clients not respecting the facility caused the gardens to change their photography policy in mid 2015 to ban photography with weddings and portraits.
Location: 4800 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, MO
- Powell Gardens
This is a fantastic location for a portrait session. The ample gardens which are maintained year around by master gardeners are a spectacular backdrop for gorgeous images. Several ponds and wood benches as well as a stunning fountain addition near the main building offer wonderful settings. The main drawback is the distance from Kansas City. It is 20 miles east of Lee’s Summit on U.S. Highway 50. Note: Like many other places there usually is a fee associated with doing a portrait photography session at this location. The gardens charge $25 per hour of photography. This is in addition to admission fees which are $10 for adults and $4 for children ages five to 12.
Location: 1609 NW U.S. Highway 50, Kingsville, MO 64061
Phone: (816) 697-2600
- Antioch Park
Antioch park features a rose garden, walking trails, playgrounds and wooden bridges and is convenient to may parts of the metro. It is popular with photographers but not nearly as popular as other locations like the West Bottoms or Loose Park.
Location: 6501 Antioch Rd., Merriam, KS 66202
Phone: (913) 831-3359
- Watts Mill Creek
Watts Mill is one of those “secret” portrait locations located in an unlikely place that makes for beautiful scenery.[/caption]At what is now 103rd and State Line stood a grist mill. It was originally called Fitzhugh’s Mill in 1832, run by George and Jonathan Fitzhugh who set up business grinding corn and wheat. The waterfalls, limestone creek beds and adjacent woodlands not far from the Santa Fe Trail made an ideal location for a mill. James Nesmith, in his diary of 1843 noted that upon leaving Independence, he and others camped in a grove of trees near the mill to gather their caravan before heading to Oregon. In 1852, Anthony Watts purchased the business. His old friend, Jim Bridger, once a scout and mountain man, moved to the town of Dallas nearby and paid frequent visits to the mill. Anthony’s son, Stubbins took over as miller in 1865 and later his son Edgar continued the tradition. But technology took its toll on the old-fashioned water driven mill, and by 1922 business had declined and the wooden building began to show decay. In 1942, much of the mill was dismantled and nine tons of ironwork were donated to the war effort. Today the Watts Mill Shopping Center stands on the site. – Learn more here.
Location: Near 1201 W. 103rd St. Kansas City, MO 64114 (Behind Jasper’s)
- Leawood Park
One of our favorites. It isn’t overpopulated by photography sessions (yet) and has plenty of space to give you a diverse set of backdrops and settings. It has your classic ponds, streams and wooden bridges that are always popular with moms but also has variety with some grittier settings which have some road underpasses along the Indian Creek bike trail.
Location: Near 10601 Lee Blvd., Leawood, KS 66206
- Old Shawnee Town
The location is modeled after the 1920’s farming community that was Shawnee, KS. It features fun, interesting buildings, including a blacksmith’s forge which will remind you more of 19th century America than anything from the 20th century. Some major negatives are it’s not free or cheap compared to other options. Shawnee residents can pay $60 per hour to use the facility for photographs. Non-residents pay $80. The facility hosts many weddings and events so be sure to call ahead of time to book your time.
Location: 11501 W. 57th St. Shawnee, KS 66203
- Union Station
This place is just dripping with that Kansas City sense of place. The station was built in 1914 and features 850,000 square feet of beautiful architecture, ceilings and windows. Be prepared to pay a fee to do a photography session with your family here too. Union Station requires a $75 facility fee for professional photography. This includes weddings, engagements, graduations and any event which includes more than 10 people.
Location: 30 W. Pershing Rd., Kansas City, MO 64108
- Liberty Memorial
Liberty Memorial affords one of the most popular views of the downtown Kansas City skyline. This is one of the first choices of couples looking for a photography session that screams “Kansas City!” The memorial features a tall tower with lit torch that has been a signature of Kansas City’s skyline for more than 90 years. The memorial is for the many millions who perished in the First World War. Below the memorial is the National World War I Museum.
Location: 100 W. 26th St, Kansas City, MO 64108
- Power and Light District
The nightclub district of Kansas City which is more than 10 years old now features some fun catwalks, outdoor lounge areas and some fun murals around parking areas. The facility is largely private property so you may need to get permission before doing professional images.
Location: near 1300 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64106
- Sporting Park
For all of you Sporting KC fans this could be an option… but for a price. The photos would be really sensational and totally communicate your love for the worlds game and Sporting. What is the price tag? This state-of-the-art modern facility can be a portrait location in the bleachers for up to 2 hours for $250. You can even get on the field for a portrait session for a cool $500. It isn’t open on game days and is only accessible between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Location: 1 Sporting Way, Kansas City, KS 66111
- Kauffman Stadium
You can do the “Grand Slam Tour” of the Royals’ home stadium. Families will have a tour guide with a golf cart. There is no access to the field or locker rooms but the rest of the stadium is available for portrait sittings. Fees are $55 per person, they don’t charge for the photographer. Tours are not available on game days.
Location: 1 Royal Way, Kansas City, MO 64129
- Arrowhead Stadium
You are welcome to make portraits of the exterior of the stadium from the parking lots. The interior of the stadium is not open for portrait sessions.
Location: 1 Arrowhead Dr., Kansas City, MO 64129
- Country Club Plaza
This upscale shopping district has been a centerpiece of Kansas City since 1922. It was designed to closely follow the architectural designs of Seville, Spain. It features high-end restaurants and retailers as well as fountains. It sits near Brush Creek which offers some pretty waterways and scenes for photographs too. Drawbacks are it is very busy with a lot of pedestrian traffic and vehicle traffic. However it is one of those unmistakable Kansas City locations.
Location: 4750 Broadway, Kansas City, MO 64112
- Christmas Lights Country Club plaza
The entire Country Club Plaza is lit with Christmas lights to celebrate the holidays. Great portrait settings can be had at the JC Nichols Fountain or from one of the Brush Creek bridges. Naturally, this is a seasonal opportunity. The lights are on from Thanksgiving evening until the middle of January. Obviously, these are the winter months of Kansas City so dress warm.
Location: 4750 Broadway, Kansas City, MO 64112
- West Bottoms
If you want gritty, urban scenery the West Bottoms is a great choice. Another plus for this location is the scarcity of traffic. You can walk streets and alleyways without fear of getting run over, but you will probably bump into another portrait session. That’s its major drawback: it’s very popular. Last time I was there for a family portrait session I saw no less than 8 photographers working with clients in 90 minutes. Luckily the West Bottoms is expansive which gives photographers and their clients room to work.
Location: In and around Hickory and 12th Streets in Kansas City, MO
- University of Kansas campus
It’s a little bit of a drive and will not hold any appeal to Wildcats, Tigers and Cornhuskers. But there’s everything for a Jayhawk family to love. The Memorial Carillon and Campanile atop the hill on Memorial Drive overlooking campus and Memorial Stadium is about as Jayhawk as it gets and wonderful for a portrait session.
Location: 1450 Jayhawk Blvd, Lawrence, KS 66045
- Crossroads Arts District
Relatively new to the list of great Kansas City portrait locations. The Crossroads is a district encompassing several blocks of Kansas City just south of downtown and just north of Union Station. This is an arts district that features a lot of fun, eclectic businesses, coffee shops, nightclubs and a ton of art galleries. You probably don’t want to try a portrait session the first Friday evening of the month, that is when there is a very popular art walk with huge crowds.
Location: Several city blocks located in and around 19th and Wyandotte in Kansas City, MO
- Lake Lenexa
One of our personal favorites, Lake Lenexa offers a great mix and some surprises for a portrait session. There’s the lake and adjoining Black Hoof Park with all the pretty wood bridges, playgrounds and trails for a classic family portrait. But it also has a really interesting looking spillway with lots of cement and wonderful architecture and lines to provide an almost urban, contemporary mix to your portraits.
Location: 9053 Monticello Road, Lenexa, KS 66220
Phone: (913) 477-7100
- Old Red Bridge Love Locks at Minor Park
We did not know a thing about this location until recently. People have been celebrating their relationships and loved ones by fixing locks to the Old Red Bridge in Minor Park. The placing of love locks is a custom in which couples affix a padlock to a bridge, fence, gate or similar fixture to pronounce their unbreakable and everlasting love. Nearby are some great locations for outdoor portraiture. Be sure to check this out in the autumn because the color is spectacular.
Location: Red Bridge Road between Holmes and Blue River Road
- Your Living Room
One way to think about where you want to have a portrait done is to think of places that have personal significance to you, your family and its unique story. There’s no more personal a space than the one your family occupies together on a daily basis: your living room. Of course the drawbacks are you may have to tidy up and get everything looking nice, if you are like me that can be a challenge, but it can add significant value to the personal memories you attach to the photographs.
Location: Your home
- Your Backyard
It’s the same concept as the living room but this may be an opportunity to include a personal garden or some landscaping you have put a lot of love and care into. Of course, not everyone has the green thumb for a pretty backyard. The best picture locations are the ones that have personal significance to you.
Location: Your home
- Boat dock
Does your family love the water? Do you have a lake house or favorite boat the family loves to use? This may be a great location for your next portrait session. Always approach location ideas with the plan to make it personal and meaningful.
- Family Farm
These are some of the most fun sessions. A lot of family farms feature land that has been in the family for generations. So this is a wonderful way to make long-gone family members a part of the picture even if only in spirit.
- Our Studio
We’ve all seen or been a part of some really bland portrait sessions in a photographer’s studio, so for many people this can feel like an unappealing option. But a good photographer can do a lot in a studio space. We have provided some portfolio samples from our studio portraits here that show just how much life, feeling and spontaneity can be a part of a studio session. Here’s the truth about beautiful photography: an effective portrait is much more about what the photograph says about the people in the photograph than it is where the photograph was taken.
Location: 819 Walnut St. #308, Kansas City, MO 64108
- River Market
The River Market is a bustling neighborhood full of small shops, boutiques, condos and the hub for Kansas City’s new light rail system. As far as portrait potential there’s a lot of urban exteriors here with parks, benches and a few murals to create a quaint, small town feeling in your portraits.
Location: Around Walnut and Fifth Streets, Kansas City, MO
- Overland Park Farmers Markets
For more than 30 years, vendors have been providing farm-to-table food at the Downtown Overland Park Farmers’ Market. There are more than 30 vendors selling their produce and goods during a farmers-market day. The covered pavilion creates some interesting side light that can be quite attractive for some candid images of your kids exploring the produce and products. Nearby there is a terraced small plaza with attractive landscaping, benches and trees that can make for a great setting.
Location: 7950 Marty St, Overland Park, KS 66204
Phone: (913) 895-6353
- Downtown Overland Park
The next-door neighbor to the farmers market offers its own small-town main street feel right in the heart of Johnson County. We are suckers for Penzey’s spice market.
Location: 7315 W 79th St, Overland Park, KS 66204
Phone: (913) 642-2222
- Weston Bend State Park
Features a scenic overlook of the Missouri River. In particular there is a trail alongside the river bluffs that offer dramatic views of the river. There are basic and electric campsites to make a weekend getaway of your family portrait session.
Location: 16600 Hwy 45 N, Weston, MO 64098
- Downtown Weston
Features lots of eclectic shops, bed and breakfasts, historic buildings and restaurants with a quaint small-town main street feel. You will want to make a day trip out of it because it is a little bit of a drive from most locations in Kansas City. You can try a couple of locations and combine it with Weston Bend State Park too.
Location: Spring and Main St., Weston, MO 64098
- English Landing
English Landing Park is a 68-acre facility hugging the Missouri River. It features multiple scenic possibilities with the river as a backdrop. Also included are three miles of walking trails, a large playground area, a boat ramp, picnic shelters, sand volleyball court, and a disc golf course.
Location: 8701 Clark Avenue, Parkville, MO 64152
Phone: (816) 741-7676
- Downtown Parkville
Quaint and charming small-town setting not far from the heart of the city, downtown Parkville has some adorable portrait locations in and around its many eclectic boutiques, restaurants and a mini golf course.
Location: Near 10 Main St., Parkville, MO 64152
- Longview Lake
This lake features 930 acres of water entertainment, nine shelters, campgrounds and the Longview Lake horse grounds.
Location: 11101 Raytown Road, Kansas City, MO 64134
- Lake Jocomo
This breathtaking 970-acre lake is located in the heart of Fleming Park, one of Jackson County’s premier recreational areas. Enjoy colorful sailboat regattas, while pontoon boaters take a leisurely cruise across the lake! Lake Jacomo’s limited-horsepower regulation affords a relaxing outing for the water enthusiast. The lake features a marina and sail boat cove, too.
Location: 7401 West Park Road, Blue Springs, MO 64015
Phone: (816) 795-8888
This is a little bit of a drive from Kansas City but worth it. It features a substantial lake backdrop with some really interesting timber jutting from the water. It also has great camping grounds which are teeming with seasonal color. It has more than its share of trails to satisfy your needs for that nature-loving family portrait.
Location: 26001 W. 255th St., Paola, KS 66071
- Heritage Park
This 1,238-acre park was established in 1981. For some mysterious reason, there’s a silo on an island in the middle of the lake, it is connected via an isthmus and walking path to the shore. You are almost totally surrounded by water out there so that can give you a lot of background options featuring the water. It also features a golf course, off-leash dog park for pet portraits and plenty of hiking trails.
Location: 16050 Pflumm Road, Olathe, KS 66061
- Lewis and Clark Historic Park at Kaw Point
This is one of those hidden locations very few people know about that provides a great view of the Kansas City skyline. Kaw Point faces directly east towards downtown’s skyline and rests on the river bank from the Kansas side. The sun can be a bit tricky at that location in the morning, pretty much silhouetting the skyline. If you wait until evening you risk having the sun behind the photographer and causing people to squint as they look towards the sun. This may be a better location on an overcast day or just after sunset.
Location: 1 River City Dr, Kansas City, KS 66101
- Burr Oak Woods Nature Center
This state conservation area consists of 1,071 acres of woodlands, glades, native grass, fields and ponds. Nearly 80 percent of Burr Oak Woods is forested. it has six self-guided nature trails. If you absolutely have to have the outdoors in your portrait it is tough to beat Burr Oak Woods.
Location: 1401 NW Park Rd, Blue Springs, MO 64015
Phone: (816) 228-3766
- The Link at Crown Center/Union Station
There’s a system of glass walkways connecting Crown Center, Union Station and the Westin Crown Center. These walkways are above the city streets and are pretty striking visually. I am not sure professional photographers can just show up with their portrait subjects unannounced although I have done it without complication.
Location: near 2400 Grand Ave. Kansas City, MO 64108
- 12th Street Bridge Underpass
A popular Kansas City portrait location. The 12th Street bridge is a double-deck reinforced concrete bridge that connects downtown to the West Bottoms. It features cement arches, columns and interesting leading lines that lend to a contemporary but urban feeling. The street underneath the overpass features a cobblestone path.
Location: 1300 W 12th St, Kansas City. MO 64101
- American Royal
If you are wanting a portrait session that combines rustic and urban, the American Royal’s bull sculpture may fit the bill. It is a large steel sculpture sitting just outside Kemper Arena. The sculpture’s parallel steel panels contains 30 cutouts of life-size bulls running at angles to each other.
Location: 1701 American Royal Ct., Kansas City, MO 64102
Phone: (816) 221-9800
- Kauffman Legacy Park sculpture
Just across the street from the now banned-to-portrait-photographers Kauffman Memorial Gardens, this sculpture features large pieces of steel with striking lines and shapes that make for a contemporary-looking portrait setting.
Location: 4820 Rockhill Road
Phone: (816) 932-1000
- Kauffman Performing Arts Center
The dramatic eye-catching design of this performing center is a distinctive feature of the Kansas City skyline and may be the perfect backdrop for lovers of the arts. There’s a set of cables used to support the center’s glass in the lobby on the south-facing part of the building that offer interesting lines for a family portrait.
Location: 1601 Broadway Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64108
Phone: (816) 994-7200
- Sculpture Garden next to Convention Plaza
The outdoor plaza and sculpture garden on the south end of the convention center features three large sculptures with the Kauffman Performing Arts Center as a background. If you are looking for something contemporary or are that family that loves modern art, this can be a fun locale.
Location: close to 1519 Wyandotte St. Kansas City, MO
- Your Outdoor kitchen
Does you family love to cook? Is food one of the ways you connect as a family? Did you have a major remodel for a patio entertaining area? Why not do something in your outdoor kitchen? Bring some wine and have a picnic for the portrait session. There is a ton of potential to create a unique and beautiful portrait with a setting like this.
Location: Your home
- East Bottoms
This is a slightly less glamorous and less popular cousin to the West Bottoms. This location features a lot of old warehouses, shipping and industrial locations and Knuckleheads saloon. After the session grab a bite to eat at Pigwich on Guinotte Avenue.
Location: Guinotte Avenue and Chestnut Trafficway, Kansas City, MO
- Swope Park
To some, it’s not located in a part of the city that inspires a lot of trust or safety but the Colonel Swope Memorial located on the east end of the park is a fantastic portrait setting featuring Greek inspired columns and colonnade and steps with bronze lions.
Location: East Meyer Boulevard and Swope Parkway, Kansas City, MO
- Gillham Park water park
This water park is mostly vacant nine months out of the year (naturally very busy in summer) but has some unique design to it with lots of cement steps and platforms that make for interesting visual lines. This is definitely not a traditional portrait setting but it has great potential for portraits with a clean, modern style.
Location: 4189 Gillham Road Kansas City, MO
- MLK mural at Troost and Linwood
Black and white images of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks reside in an iconic Kansas City tribute, painted by artist Alexander Austin in 1993.
Location: Linwood and Troost, Kansas City, MO 64109
- Argentine Mural at 30th and Metropolitan
For Latino families looking for a perfect mix of history and a contemporary portrait setting, this extensive wall mural would be a perfect setting.
Location: 3037 Metropolitan, Kansas City, KS 66106
- Graffitti Mural by Gear
Kansas City graffiti artist Gear, transformed these humdrum walls behind the Foxx Equipment Company into a fantastic world of vibrant characters and a really fun backdrop for a portrait session.
Location: 421 Southwest Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64108
- “Imminent Equality” mural by William Wilmot
For a portrait with a social consciousness and sense of history this would be a really neat idea.
Location: E 27th and Holmes, Kansas City, MO
- The Pollinators Mural
Coinciding with the Spencer Museum’s retrospective on Kansas native Aaron Douglas, this collaborative mural, located at the farmers market, used the metaphor of pollination and imagined great African-American artists from Kansas as pollinators amongst hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.
Location: 8th and New Hampshire, Lawrence, KS
- Frank Theis Park
Frank Theis Park is situated very close to several other prime portrait locations in Kansas City, it is next door to Kauffman Memorials Gardens, The Nelson Art Gallery and The Country Club Plaza. It overlooks Brush Creek.
- Nelson Art Gallery
This sprawling facility is gorgeous with a giant pool on its north side (not for wading in.) Striking contemporary and classical architecture Your photographer will need to show up early and sign in at the security desk. Make sure young children know not to climb on any of the sculptures or exhibits because they have a PA system throughout the grounds to admonish little climbers loudly.
Location: 4525 Oak St, Kansas City, MO 64111
Phone: (816) 751-1278
- JC Nichols Fountain
This is one of the locations featured on many Kansas City postcards. It is the most popular and photographed fountain in Kansas City. The J.C. Nichols fountain is named for the man who led the development of The Country Club Plaza in the 1920s. It features four heroic horsemen which are said to represent mighty four rivers of the world: the Mississippi River (fending off an alligator), the Volga River (with the bear), the Seine and the Rhine.
Location: 47th and J.C.Nichols Parkway, Kansas City, MO 64111
Phone: (816) 842-2299
- Henry Bloch Fountain
One of my personal favorites among Kansas City fountains. The fountain features 232 jets arranged in a circular pattern. A computer choreographed spray system sprays an ever-changing pattern and sequence of water. There is a large reflecting pool surrounding the jets which makes for some fun and creative reflection possibilities for a photographer. Not to mention Union Station sits pretty in the background. But watch for cars. It can be a little tricky and treacherous working around the fountain due to the busy streets surrounding the fountain. There just isn’t much room to walk.
Location: 62 W Pershing Road, Kansas City, MO 64108
- The Children’s Fountain
The Children’s Fountain is a great place to try a summer portrait session with kids. The fountain sprays a lot of water and with a little wind can really make for some fun, candid photographs of children at play. It is surrounded by lots of trees , paths, benches and other features which can make for a nice portrait setting.
Location: North Oak Trafficway and NE 32nd Street and Burlington Street/Missouri Highway 9
- Diana Fountain
The waterfall wall of the Intercontinental Hotel near the fountain makes for some interesting and dramatic backgrounds. Night portraits here could be a lot of fun. This also could be a fun one to try while sampling The Country Club Plaza’s various portrait possibilities.
Location: 401 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, MO (Near the Intercontinental Hotel)
- Corporate Woods
It’s a dynamite location for fall color and has an extended color show that takes place from late September into November. Some fun, rolling hills created by earth-moving equipment back in the day make for neat little locations to perch a family with a pretty foliage background and not a whole lot of other visual clutter. Extensive trails and lots of convenient parking help reduce the walking times a lot of other locations featured in this guide require. That’s something to thing about if you have some elderly people or others with special needs.
Location: Indian Creek Parkway and College Blvd. Overland Park, KS
Phone: (913) 451-4466
- Bingham-Waggoner Home
If you want a setting with a sense of time, history and 19th century charm this is a little known jewel of a portrait location. The estate is a beautiful 19th century home and extensive grounds restored and maintained to high standards.
Location: 313 W Pacific Ave, Independence, MO 64050
Phone: (816) 461-3491
- Prairie Village Skatepark
If extreme sports are your family’s thing this may be a creative setting for photographs that really feature that story. A nearby playground may be more suitable for younger family members and some fun candid images.
Location: 77th and Mission Road
- Shawnee Mission Lake boat dock
Does your family love the water? The marina at Shawnee Mission Park is a popular location to tell that story of your family.
Location: Lakeview Road, central portion of the park.
Phone: (913) 888-4713
- Shawnee Mission park observation tower
Sometime great photography is about candid moments of exploration and discovery, especially when creating photographs of young children. The Shawnee Mission Park observatory is a 50-foot observation tower with lots of stairs. The portrait potential on top is a little difficult considering the high railings and plainness of the observation deck would occupy a lot of the background of any photograph. Wind is an issue too but the exploration and discovery possibilities for natural, candid photography are rich here.
Location: Southwest corner of the park on Barkley Drive
Phone: (913) 888-4713
- Massachusetts Street
We have several locations on this list that fit the bill for cute, main street downtown feeling but few have the energy and vibrance of Massachusetts street in Lawrence, KS. It isn’t going to the first choice of non Jayhawks but it is close to Kansas City. A little patience is required for portraits that don’t have strangers in the background because this is a bustling center of activity for Larry town.
Location: Downtown Lawrence, KS
- Allen Field House
You can grab your photographer, journey over to Lawrence and within business hours be able to enter this venerable building and do a photo session. However, it is not open to the public during practices and workouts for the schools’ accomplished basketball squads or other athletic events. A phone call before heading over would be wise. And you absolutely cannot do anything on the basketball court.
Location: 1651 Naismith Dr, Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone: (785) 864-3141
- Barney Allis Plaza
This is another location I have never done a portrait session at but would love to try. Barney Allis Plaza is nestled right into the middle of downtown Kansas City. It features a tree-lined urban park with skyline views all around. Like a lot of the best locations in Kansas City, it also has fountains.
Location: Wyandotte and 12th St., Kansas City, MO 64106
- 64th and Belinder
This is a sliver of trees and land in a residential neighborhood that features glorious color in fall and spring.
Location: 64th and Belinder, Mission Hills, KS 66208
- Park University Campus
Features lots of hills and great views of the Missouri River and beyond. This is hard to beat for a fall family portrait location because of the extensive trees, beautiful architecture and those views.
Location: 8700 NW River Park Dr, Parkville, MO 64152
Phone: (816) 741-2000
- Unity Village
Maybe one of our all-time favorites for a Kansas City portrait location. This location features stunning fountains and bridges in the center of a campus designed like an old Spanish mission. It also features a rose garden and arched, covered corridors. There is also the ruins of deserted stone buildings north of the main campus with lots of wonderful character to make for a beautiful backdrop. If you are headed to the Unity Village on a Saturday for portrait don’t be surprised if the beautiful Spanish buildings, fountains and bridges are cordoned off for a wedding. Think about a week night for great access to all Unity Village offers.
Location: 1901 NW Blue Parkway, Unity Village, MO 64065
- Cider Hill Family Orchard
This orchard features rows and rows of apple trees, hay rides and activities. This is a fun location to take young children and let them explore, roam and discover. It would be really fun to take young children here and do candid photographs of their activity, energy and let their personalities shine through. The only downfall is it is a seasonal kind of place.
Location: 3341 N 139th St, Kansas City, KS 66109
Phone: (913) 721-2507
- Legacy Park
Features scenic overlook of a lake with fishing dock with playgrounds and a ton of softball and baseball fields. Neat place to try some creative stuff with families that love sports.
Location: 1201-1501 NE Legacy Park Dr, Lee’s Summit, MO 64086
- Barry-Platte Park
Features sand volleyball courts, playground equipment. It also features a main shelter with water and electricity available. This can be a help for photographers on a family session!
Location: 8526 NW Old Stagecoach Rd, Kansas City, MO 64154
- James A. Reed Wildlife Area
This park contains 252 acres total of woodlands, old fields, grassland, and wetlands, picnic areas and three pavilions, two fishing docks, and 11 fishing lakes and ponds.
Location: 13101 SE Ranson Rd, Lee’s Summit, MO 64082
Phone: (816) 622-0900
- Kansas City Public Library
The south-facing exterior of the library features a large wall made to look like a shelf of books. It’s a neat backdrop for the book lovers out there.
Location: 14 W 10 St, Kansas City, MO 64105
Phone: (816) 701-3400
- Indian Creek Trail
This trail may very well be more than 20 miles long and extends from Kansas City, MO to Olathe, KS. Our recommended locations for great scenery are at Leawood Park or near Corporate Woods. But the trail never strays too far from Indian Creek so there are a great many picturesque spots along this trail.
Location: Trail starts east of Troost near 87th Street in Kansas City, MO and extends all the way into Olathe KS.
- Independence Event Center
For the hockey families out there this could be a fun location. Be sure to call to make arrangements for your session first! The Mavericks play here and their season is between October and April, sometimes even into May. You can have a portrait session out on the ice with your family on home game nights. They recommend showing up at 4:30 and plan on taking no more than 45 minutes to do the session. There is also a community ice facility at the arena that is available year around however many events take place there any given week. It is best to make time and date arrangements in advance with the staff of the events center.
Location: 19100 E Valley View Parkway, Independence, MO 64055
- Kansas Speedway
Unknown access to this location. We could not get their staff to call us back.
Location: 400 Speedway Blvd, Kansas City, KS 66111
Phone: (866) 460-7223
- Smithville Lake
If you need that perfect nature and waterside portrait Smithville has you covered. Features two swim beaches, 777 campsites, shelters, two full service marinas including boat rentals, one sailboat only marina, dockside restaurant, two public 18-hole golf courses within the Paradise Pointe Golf Complex, four disc golf courses, 25 miles of walking/biking trails, 11 miles of single-track mountain biking trails, 26 miles of equestrian trails and an aggressive 2,300 acre native grassland revitalization project.
Location: 17201 Paradesian, Smithville, MO 64089
Phone: (816) 407-3400
- The Plaza Art Fair
This event takes usually place on the Country Club Plaza the last weekend of September. This event is a crowd-drawing event of tents, people, eats and drink so it may not be all the great for a family portrait setting but it could be just right for couple’s portrait or engagement session.
Location: 4750 Broadway, Kansas City, MO 64112
- Downtown Lee’s Summit
Quaint and cute in the small town way, Lee’s Summit’s downtown is giving Parkville a run for its money for providing that main-street feel to a portrait session.
Location: 200 Block of SE Douglas St, Lee’s Summit, MO 64063
Phone: (816) 246-6598
- Belvoir Winery
Features extensive grounds and old buildings with a very long pathway/stairs to the main entrance surrounded by trees and a well manicured grounds. It also has a gazebo and outlying buildings that have tons of story and character. This location once served as an orphanage and old-folks home as well as sanitarium. It is private property of an active winery so be sure to call ahead of time to get permission. The ownership was super nice and easy-going when we were there.
Location: 1325 Odd Fellows Rd, Liberty, MO 64068
Phone: (816) 200-1811
- Watkins Mill State Park
The park is adjacent to the Watkins Mill Woolen State Historic Park and features a 100-acre lake to get some water in your portrait backdrops. The Woolen Mill is a charming three-story old building with a ton of character that could make for a fun setting too.
Location: 26600 Park Rd N, Lawson, MO 64062
Phone: (816) 580-3387
- Berkley Riverfront Park
This a another place with a vantage point of the Kansas City skyline. It offers a great view of the dramatic new bridge and the Missouri River. Drawbacks are low-water times. Maybe it’s just us, but sometimes the river just isn’t that pretty when the water is low.
Location: Grand and Mo Highway 9 (Heart of America Bridge)
Phone: (816) 559-3750
- Boulevard Drive In
How about a couple’s portrait of a romantic picnic at a drive-in theatre? Boulevard Drive-In is perfect for that kind of thing. This is definitely a place you want to call in advance because it is an active and functioning drive-in theatre. Although we have had luck with the owner. It may or may not be that accessible for a portrait session depending on what day you choose.
Location: 1051 Merriam Ln, Kansas City, KS 66103
Phone: (913) 262-0392
- Cliff Drive State Scenic Byway
This is a hidden jewel and a beautiful five-mile stretch of road surrounding wonderful views of rock and forested landscape. Even better, each weekend the drive is only open to bikes and pedestrians. Be sure to check out the nearby Colonnade at Kessler Park for a a really beautiful portrait location too.
Location: Near Chestnut Trafficway in Northeast Kansas City
- Town of Kansas Observation Deck
Another vantage point to get the Kansas City skyline. This might be a great place to experiment with a panoramic portrait that would get both the Missouri River and the skyline.
Location: End of Main St. right at the Missouri river
- Scout Statue
This is a classic vantage point to get the Kansas City skyline. Also features some angles and vantage points for a more nature-oriented portrait.
Location: 30th and Pennsylvania
- City Hall Observation Deck
Location: 414 E. 12th Street
Phone: (816) 513-3600
- Water Works Park
Very close to the Children’s Fountain we mentioned earlier but features many nature settings. A disc golf course is a part of the 58-acre park.
Location: 3400 North Oak Trafficway
- Jowler Creek vineyard
The vineyards are in full splendor after about mid June. They also have a small rose garden that offers some nice settings for photos. Be sure to call and ask for Colleen in order to make arrangements. This is a private business so dropping in unannounced for a family portrait would be rude.
Location: 16905 Jowler Creek Rd, Platte City, MO 64079
Phone: (816) 858-5528
- Cedar Creek Falls
Small but very pretty and a ripe location for gorgeous portraits, Cedar Creek Falls is a great location for postcard beauty in your portrait session. The only drawback is you may have to wait or work around a fisherman or two.
Location: Near 2500 W 143rd Street (Dennis Ave)
Olathe, Kansas 66061
Phone: (913) 971-6263
- Waterfall Park in Merriam
Features a small but pretty waterfall. Park is under development so it may be wise to scout it out ahead of time before committing to a portrait session here.
Location: 5191 Merriam Drive
- Whispering Hills Covered Bridge
I have never done a portrait session at this location but would love to do it someday. This is pretty much your only bet for a covered bridge portrait session in the Kansas City area. But it is very pretty and a one-of-a-kind location for a session.
Location: Near 20874 Whispering Dr., Lenexa, KS 66220