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Top 10 Engagement Photo Locations in Madison, Wisconsin

January 8, 2020

Madison, Wisconsin provides numerous location options for engagement photo sessions. There are tons of parks, the city is sandwiched between two lakes (you can’t beat that!), and the downtown is very walkable. I love the diversity that this city offers for shooting locations. Whether you are looking for a nature setting, a “classic Madison session” (such as the Wisconsin State Capitol & Memorial Union Terrace), or something more urban (perhaps Willy Street area), you can’t go wrong! Today, I wanted to share 10 of my favorite Madison, WI engagement photography locations. This list is definitely not exhaustive, but I hope it helps you as you prepare for your engagement portraits.


1. Wisconsin State Capitol

I’m not sure what kind of list this would be if it didn’t include the Madison State Capitol building. The beautiful architecture allows for creativity, and I love a clean, white backdrop.

2. Memorial Union Terrace

This location is great for both UW-Madison grads who love their campus, and for couples looking for bright colors, unique architecture, sailboats, and docks. Nearby, there are numerous other great spots for photos such as in front of the Wisconsin Historical Society, the lakeshore path, and the beginning of State Street.

3. Monona Terrace

Almost as iconic as the Memorial Union Terrace is Monona Terrace. There may not be terrace chairs at this location, but it’s typically quieter, has beautiful greenery most of the year, Capitol views, and it still comes with a lake.

4. UW-Madison Arboretum

I’m not sure type of list this would be if I didn’t include the UW-Madison Arboretum. The grounds are expansive and are absolutely stunning no matter the season. Do note that you need a photography permit to shoot here (costs $35).

5. Olin Park

Olin Park is probably one of my favorite locations in the entire city for photographs in general. From Olin Park you can see the entire Madison skyline. What people may not know is it also offers an extensive wooded area and prairie field. Do beware of the mosquitos though – they are particularly bad at this location.

6. Vilas Park Area near Lake Wingra

This location offers a ton of diversity! Inside the park you will find old bridges, ponds and a small beach. This area also offers large older trees similar to ones you may find in the UW Arboretum. This makes Lake Wingra area a great alternative location for couples who do not want to pay the Arboretum photography permit fee.

7. Willy Street Neighborhood

Willy Street Area offers lots of backdrop variety. The area has countless murals, unique small businesses such as Mother Fool’s Coffeehouse and the Willy Street Co-op, and lots of character! You can also walk to Lake Monona from this area, for a different look.

8. James Madison Park

This is another option if you are looking for lake photos. There are a few docks, a small beach, a walking path, colorful kayaks, and a unique shed. This park is very close to the Capitol, which makes it possible for 2 different looks.

9. Olbrich Botanical Gardens

The Olbrich Botanical Gardens are very well known and for good reason. The gardens are absolutely beautiful and offer various backdrops for photography. This location does require a photo permit which needs to be reserved in advance.

10. Burke Park

This is a new favorite of mine for Madison based engagement sessions. If you are looking for walking bridges, marsh land, open field space, and gorgeous light, come here!

11. Your favorite spot!

If there is a building, location, or specific activity that is special to you as a couple, consider including it in your portrait session! Perhaps you first met at a coffee shop, or you always meet up at a specific bar. The sky is really the limit for possibilities! Choosing a location that’s familiar or significant to you helps a great deal in making you feel comfortable as well. Treat your engagement session as a date – just with a photographer tagging along. 🙂




Enjoyed this blog post? Check out these full engagement sessions utilizing the above locations. 

UW-Arboretum/Vilas Park Winter Engagement Session

Downtown Madison/Picnic Point Engagement Session

Burke Park Engagement Session

Willy Street Fall Engagement Session 

Monona Terrace Engagement Session

Wisconsin State Capitol/James Madison Engagement Session

Lake Wingra Winter Engagement Session 

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