When you think of photography in Chicago, your mind might automatically drift to the bustling streets of the Windy City, the glittering skyline at sunset, or the iconic Cloud Gate (famously known as “The Bean”). However, the surrounding suburbs of Chicago offer a plethora of indoor venues that are perfect for photography. Whether you're a professional photographer seeking a new setting for your clients or a hobbyist looking for unique backdrops, these venues have a lot to offer.

Why Consider Indoor Venues?

Firstly, Chicago's unpredictable weather, from biting winter winds to summer thunderstorms, can be challenging for outdoor shoots. Indoor venues provide a controlled environment, where you're not at the mercy of mother nature.

Top Indoor Venues for Photography in the Chicago Suburbs:

Historic Mansions:

Art Galleries and Studios:

  • The Zhou B Art Center in Bridgeport, although closer to the city, offers a blend of contemporary and traditional spaces. Its high ceilings, large windows, and ever-changing art exhibits offer a dynamic setting for photos.

Cultural Centers:

  • The Irish American Heritage Center in Mayfair provides ornate rooms, libraries, and a theater. Its rich woodwork and historical ambiance make it a popular choice for photographers.


  • Elmhurst Art Museum in Elmhurst Located in the western suburbs of Chicago, this museum offers a fascinating blend of contemporary art exhibits. Beyond its rotating art displays, the museum's architecture itself is a masterpiece, with minimalist designs and lots of natural light. The presence of Mies van der Rohe’s McCormick House on the premises adds historical significance and provides a unique backdrop for photos. The blend of old and new architectural styles creates a dynamic environment for photographers.

Botanical Gardens and Conservatories:

  • Nichols Conservatory & Gardens in Rockford is a little further out, but its lush, tropical environment offers a unique escape from the usual settings. It's particularly suitable for those who love a touch of nature without dealing with outdoor unpredictabilities.

Unique Local Finds:

  • Sometimes, local cafes, bookstores, or theaters are open to hosting photographers. A place like The Bookstore in Glen Ellyn, with its cozy corners and stacks of books, can provide a relaxed and intimate setting.

Tips for Shooting in Indoor Venues:
  • Permissions: Always ensure you have the necessary permissions to shoot. Some venues might require a fee or advanced booking.
  • Lighting: Indoor venues can have varied lighting, from natural light flooding in through big windows to more dimly lit spaces. Carry a portable light source and familiarize yourself with the venue beforehand to understand its lighting dynamics.
  • Props: Depending on the venue, you may need to bring props to enhance your shots. However, remember to be respectful and ensure that your props do not damage any part of the venue.
  • Respect the Space: It goes without saying, but always leave the venue as you found it. This will ensure a positive relationship and possibly open doors for future shoots.

In conclusion, while Chicago itself is a goldmine for photographers, the suburbs have their hidden gems, waiting to be discovered. Exploring these indoor venues not only diversifies your portfolio but also offers clients a unique setting that stands out. So the next time you’re planning a shoot, consider stepping outside the city limits and diving into the world of suburban treasures.