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Photography Tips

Great Places To Photograph Around St. Louis

Robb Muller
September 18, 2020
There are many great places to photograph around the St. Louis area, featuring a wide variety of potential photos, from breathtaking cityscapes to beautiful landscapes.

There are many great places to photograph around the St. Louis area, featuring a wide variety of potential photos, from breathtaking cityscapes to beautiful landscapes. Missouri is such a beautiful and diverse place, allowing photographers to capture great shots without venturing far from their homes.

Through this blog, we have highlighted some of the most popular, and our experts’ favorite, locations along with some great tips for each location to ensure you’re taking pictures like the pros!

1. Lone Elk Park

Lone Elk Park is a 546 acre wildlife management area in west St. Louis County. The park features a wide variety of wildlife, including elk, bison, wild turkey, waterfowl, and deer.

Professional Tips: Bring a long lens, so you can get tight cropping.

2. Missouri Botanical Gardens/Shaw’s Garden

The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis is the nation’s second largest herbarium, featuring over 6.6 million types of plants. Opened in 1859, it features numerous different gardens, water features, pieces of art, and more in 79 acres of urban beauty.

Professional Tips: Bring your macro lens & remember to not use tripods on the paths.

3. New Town in St. Charles

New Town, located in St. Charles county off of Interstate 370, is a neighborhood community unlike others. Featuring beautiful tree-lined streets, canals between its roadways, 3 beautiful lakes, and plenty of green park spaces, finding a great place to take photos shouldn’t be difficult here.

Professional Tips: The canals provide a great location for portraits.

4. Soulard Farmer’s Market

Originated in 1779, Soulard Farmer’s Market has long been known as a place for farmers to gather and sell their goods to the people of St. Louis. As the longest operating public market in the area, it features a great opportunity to capture local shoppers in the “Grand Hall”, a historic structure built in 1929.

Professional Tips: The market is low light, so bring your fast lenses.

5. Faust Park/Butterfly House

Located in Faust Park in Chesterfield, The Butterfly House makes its home to over 200 species of butterflies, invertebrates, and other insects. The park also features the Conservatory Garden, a variety of old buildings, numerous water features, and a carousel, providing a number of great photo opportunities.

Professional Tip: Be sure to bring a Macro lens to The Butterfly House.

6. Downtown Saint Louis

Downtown St. Louis is a great place for photographers to find great shots. Featuring urban cityscapes, great places for street photography, historic streets in Laclede’s Landing, Gateway Arch National Park, historic Forest Park, and more, St. Louis is home to some of the area’s most notable locations.

Professional Tips: Look for interesting shadows, late afternoon is often a great time for photos.

7. Downtown Clayton

Similar to Downtown St. Louis, Clayton features a variety of modern buildings and locations for street photography.

8. Delmar Loop

The Delmar Loop is one of the most known areas in St. Louis for entertainment, food, and more. It is one of the most overlooked areas for street photography and often features a variety of street performances and other festivals that bring both locals and visitors to enjoy their time.

Professional Tips: Don’t bring a ton of big gear, small and discreet will get you better street shots.

9. Horseshoe Lake State Park

Horseshoe Lake in Granite City, IL is the area’s largest lake and Illinois’ second largest lake behind Lake Michigan. This 2,400 acre lake is home to a variety of wildlife, including 287 bird species – most notably the Bald Eagle.

Professional Tips: Bring a long lens and tripod, lots of bird and great sunrises/sunsets

10. Graffiti Wall, south of the Arch

Just south of the Gateway Arch National Park in Downtown St. Louis is one of the area’s most popular hot spots for pop culture. The floodwall that protects the downtown area from flooding has been transformed into an intricate mural of graffiti artwork that features prominent St. Louis figures, wildlife, and more!

Professional Tips: This is a great place to shoot urban portraits. Be sure to visit every so often as the artwork is constantly changing!

11. Forest Park

Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country, rivaling that of Central Park in NYC. It is home to a large number of great photo locations, including one of our personal favorites, Victorian Bridge in the NE corner of the park. Other notable landmarks include The St. Louis Zoo, remaining structures from the 1904 World’s Fair, water features, sculptures, statues, museums & more.

Professional Tips: Forest Park offers many photo opportunities from architecture and landscapes to macro and portraits. Bring a tripod and allow yourself time to explore. If you are shooting a portrait, go for sunset and bring a reflector or flash for fill light.

12. Tower Grove Park

Tower Grove Park is one of the largest parks in the city. The park is 289 acres of beauty, featuring a beautiful fountain, ruins from historical structures, sports fields, & a great farmer’s market on Saturday mornings.

Professional Tips: As with Forest Park, there are lots of opportunities at Tower Grove but plan when you go. Often there are other photographers shooting there, please be kind.

12. Shaw Nature Reserve

Operating as an extension to the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Shaw Nature Reserve is home to an array of plant life that was moved to avoid urban factors that posed harm to more sensitive plants. The reserve is located in Grays Summit, MO, and is great for capturing wildlife and nature photos, including Orchids, Lily Ponds, birds, sunsets, several historic homes, and more!

Professional Tips: Great for wildlife and nature photography. Bring a tripod for sunsets

13. Union Station and the Wheel

Once a major transportation hub and train station, Union Station has seen its fair share of history as it later transformed into a hotel and mall, then nearly closed altogether. Recently, through large revitalization efforts, Union Station has become home to the all-new St. Louis Aquarium, St. Louis Wheel, exciting event spaces, and more. You can take great skyline photos from atop The Wheel and there are great stone walls to take portrait photos as well as water features, and an old-style malt shop.

Professional Tips: Cross Market street to capture the fountain at Aloe Park.

14. Bellefontaine Cemetery & Arboretum

One of the oldest cemeteries in the area, the Bellefontaine Cemetery is home to a number of historical and architecturally-significant monuments and mausoleums. It was listed on the NationalRegistry of Historic Places in 2014. Many local prominent figures’ graves are located here as well as civil war soldiers from both sides of the conflict.

Professional Tips: This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but going early on a foggy morning can offer some moody images.

15. Grants Farm

Home to the 18th President of the United State, Ulysses S. Grant, Grant’s Farm is a 925 acre zoo in St. Louis County as well as a National Historic Site. Grant’s Farm features a large variety of animals, including buffalo, elephants, camels, kangaroos, donkeys, goats, peacocks, & the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales, which can usually be spotted from the tram ride through the park. Grant’s Farm is also home to cool features like Grant’s Cabin and a fence that lines the perimeter of the grounds made from the barrels of Civil War weapons.

Professional Tips: A great place to get shots of the Clydesdales. Bring a wide-angle lens to capture animals up close.

16. Don Robinson State Park

Don Robinson State Park is an 800 acre park in Jefferson County, MO. As one of the state’s newest parks, it is a great place to capture the beauty of nature through its rugged terrain. There is a great creek that flows through the area as well as hiking trails, caves, and more!

Professional Tips: Go after a hard rain and the creek is flowing good, there is a nice waterfall off the main path. Bring a good tripod for long exposures.

17. Wineries in Hermann or Ste. Genevieve

Within only an hour’s drive from St. Louis, you can reach the towns of Hermann (west of St. Louis) and St. Genevieve (south of St. Louis). Both of these towns feature an old town aesthetic that you can’t find closer to St. Louis, and both have a number of great wineries surrounding them which make them great places to visit for the day and photograph.

Professional Tips: {Need some tips here} This can be a great street and people shooting trip. Go for Octoberfest and you will get the benefit of fall colors. Bring a 24-70mm for most of you shooting, but a long lens can also be really nice for detail shots.

18. Elephant Rocks State Park

Elephant Rocks State Park is a geologic wonder in the Arcadia Valley area south of St. Louis. The park gets its name from the massive granite boulders that are present throughout. This park is a great location for nature photography and a great getaway for the day.

Professional Tips: {Need tips here} Do not plan on being here mid-day. The light can be very harsh. Try going for a sunrise or sunset. Just make sure you have someone else with you and you both have good flashlight to hike out after the sun has gone down.

19. Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park

Also in the Acadia Valley area south of St. Louis, is the popular tourist attraction of Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park. This park is home to natural water features where the Black River flows through rock formations that create a “waterpark” for visitors.

Professional Tips: This park is great for nature photography, but be careful not to get your equipment wet!

20. Taum Sauk Mountain

Located right next to Johnson’s Shut-Ins in the Arcadia Valley area is MO’s tallest point, Tom Sauk Mountain State Park. This park features wide vistas on top of the largest mountain in the state.

Professional Tips: This is a favorite for astrophotography because it is the closest dark sky to St. Louis.

21. Your own backyard!

Take a new look at what you see every day. It has been said that there is a lifetime worth of photographer within a mile of your house. Challenge yourself to look at your yard like you have never seen it before.