We love our city of Madison, Wisconsin. We love that it’s “big” enough to offer lots of things to do and see, but we also love that it’s surrounded by two big lakes and offers lots of natural landscapes, even right within the city! As photographers, we love the diversity it offers us and our clients for shooting locations! Whether a client wants a clean, cityscape backdrop (like the State Capitol) or a nature setting (like Pope Farm Conservancy), Madison has it all! Today we’re sharing 13 spots for amazing engagement photos right here in Madison, Wisconsin.
1. Wisconsin State Capitol
There are so many different ways, angles, and places to shoot at the Capitol — we never get sick of it! I love trying to create new compositions each time we shoot!
2. Allen Centennial Gardens
These beautifully manicured gardens are located on UW’s campus and offer such a stunning backdrop to any floral-loving couples’ portraits! The University does ask for a donation of $30 to shoot in the gardens.
3. Picnic Point
Also on the UW campus, the Picnic Point path runs along the edge of the water until you reach the very end of the mile-long peninsula. There are lots of spots to stop along the way to take photos, and the path itself provides a beautiful backdrop! Do note that this is usually a busy spot for walkers and runners, so you will have to navigate the foot traffic (but it’s worth it!).
4. James Madison Park
Another great spot if you love the water! There are a couple of docks, a small beach, and a walking path along the edge of the water. This park is very close to the Capitol and easy if your couple wants a downtown setting but also a nature/lake setting!
5. Pope Farm Conservancy
We discovered this gem within the last year and I am SO happy we did! The thing I love most about Pope Farm is that there are SO MANY spots to shoot (I’m posting all photos from one session just so you can see all of the different spots we were able to use). And the conservancy is beautiful year round!
6. The Overture Center
So crisp and clean — I love it! Also perfect for winter when it’s freezing and windy outside! Shooting in the Rotunda Main Entrance space (where the below photos were taken) is free! Shooting in the main lobby does require a $50 permit fee.
7. Vilas Park and Vilas Park Neighborhood
These spots are close to downtown and offer TONS of options for shooting! The park borders Lake Wingra and has a small beach that is perfectly lit at sunset. There are also a couple of cute bridges and ponds! Additionally, the neighborhoods surrounding the park are filled with beautiful old homes, curvy roads, and lots of aged trees. We love the versatility of this spot!
8. The Atwood Neighborhood
This quirky neighborhood on the East Side of Madison provides plenty of old, colorful buildings for a great urban backdrop! Head West and you will run into the Willie Street neighborhood which offers the same!
9. The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
This spot does require a $25 photography permit, but with the permit you get access to the main lobby and staircase of the museum for shooting, as well as the rooftop garden (which provides a super cool view of State Street and The Capitol from up high!).
10. The Wisconsin Historical Society
This is one of our favorite buildings in the entire city! It’s on the UW Campus, right across from the Memorial Union Terrace. The architecture is unbelievable and there are lots of spots to shoot nearby, too!
11. The Memorial Union Terrace
This is such a fun and vibrant spot, also on the UW Campus (can you tell campus offers a LOT of great options for shooting!? And everything is so close to each other AND downtown!). There are docks, sailboats, and the famous Memorial Union chairs! If it’s a nice day, expect a lot of people to be at the Terrace. Shooting at sunrise is AWESOME for avoiding crowds and definitely skip shooting here on weekend evenings!
12. The Cherokee Marsh
This spot is a hidden gem on the East Side of Madison near the airport. An awesome location, especially if you have a couple who is up for adventure! There are TONS of trails, boardwalks over the two marshes, and a cool gravel road that winds between the open fields. So many options!
13. Downtown Madison
Last but certainly not least, downtown Madison in general just has so much to offer. There are cool buildings everywhere you turn and simply walking with your couple around the Square/State Street area will provide you with infinite options! Proof from the session below : )