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15 Locations to Shoot Your Session

This blog post is one that I've put a lot of personal thought and effort, into! :) I, often, have clients, who have a vision of what kind of scenery, they'd like for their session. They can see themselves perfectly in a location, but have no clue, as to where they can request, open to the public. & with just now coming around to booking for 2020 (AKA dates are pretty open, at this point! Get to booking those sessions!), I figured this is a much needed blog post, to motivate everyone. ;) I'm so excited to bring, to you all, "15 Locations to Shoot Your Session" (within a respectable driving distance, of Brianna Hupp Photography, of Gillespie, IL). Along with locations, I will occasionally be throwing in the time of day you should aim for. While reading this, please keep in mind that I only drive 10 miles, from Gillespie, for free. Ever mile after, will cost an additional $0.85, added to your session cost. (Limit of 50 miles from Gillespie)

1. Broom's Orchard- Carlinville, IL (13.7 miles from Gillespie) 12803 Broom Road, 62626

Broom Orchard, ran by Jeff and Lisa Bloom, is such a beautiful, family-friendly place to visit! So many fun things for the kids to enjoy and have fun with, along with fresh fruit (such as: apples, peaches, blackberries, plums, pears, and pumpkins) for the pickin'! (Don't forget their award-winning Sweet Cider, too!) Their harvest schedule & farm market is open July through December. These particular months, coincidentally, are prime photo session months! I highly recommend Broom's Orchard, for your family session, child's session, couples session, etc! Envision your kiddos, sitting atop your shoulders, picking apples. Or digging around, in fields of pumpkins, trying to find the perfect one. HOWEVER, they are only open between 9 AM til 5 PM! Lot's of shady spots, to choose from, though. So, while you may not be able to get that golden hour session, right before sunset... You're session can still be absolutely radiant. (Also, expect that your kiddos, probably, won't want to leave without picking something. Don't forget to pay, at the shop, before leaving! & just fyi, the smaller the pumpkin/bag of fruit, the cheaper.)

2. Tony's Park- Eagarville, IL (3.1 miles from Gillespie) South Lincoln Avenue/ Benld Road, 62069

Tony's Park, is a dainty, little park. There are a few swings, a pavilion, and such. They are always hosting events, at this park, to raise money & build it up. Always seems to be something new, every time I pass by. HOWEVER, my favorite part of this park, is right behind, closer to where you would park, to get to said park. An open field, with some wispy grass, to outline the edges... and a tree line, in just the right amount of distance, that we can still capture some sky, in there, too! Beautiful spot, for photos!

3. Beaver Dam- Plainview IL (15.2 miles from Gillespie) 14548 Beaver Dam Ln, 62626

Located in Macoupin County, 7 miles southwest of Carlinville and situated in an oak/hickory woodland, Beaver Dam State Park offers a variety of recreational opportunities, on its 750 acres. Fishing, picnicking, hiking, and tent and trailer camping are among the most popular activities. Although beaver are virtually gone from this area, the park is named for a beaver dam that created its lake. We have to keep in mind, with this location, that it is a state park. We must treat this place of wildlife with respect! Please do not leave behind your litter. These trails are fun to walk any time of year... but, I, especially, enjoy them in the fall. First of all, LESS BUGS! ;) Second of all, LOOK AT THESE 2 PHOTOS!!! With many small bridges along this path & trees that curve over our heads... It's gorgeous! There are, also, open spaces with lots of trees. We do not HAVE to walk trails. But we may have to climb a hill or two. We could also, just step out onto a fishing dock, surrounding you with a water view. We could also, do a "Daddy & Me" fishing trip session. I'm sure you're getting the gist. :) Some things you'll need to know- 1) We will have to take a nice little hike, to get to bridges, like pictured above. 2) The trails are small and narrow, throughout. They are also, at times, close to the edge of the water. Keep that in mind, when considering who you're involving, in your session. I.E., I wouldn't recommend bringing Grandma to this session, unless she's insanely active! 3) If you'd like to explore this place in summer, I recommend bringing along bug spray! 4) JEANS. I do not recommend shorts, capri pants or dresses for this location (unless, we wont be walking trails, you'd like to stick to the open spaces). Reason being, there is poison ivy, sumac & oak. (It IS a wildlife state park, after all.)

4. New Gillespie Lake, Gillespie, IL

Carney Dr, 62033

Gillespie Lake is located 3 miles northwest of Gillespie, IL in Macoupin County. This place will ALWAYS make me feel like a kid, again, when I go. Mainly, because my family and I used to have a lake lot out there. I remember a lot of summers, just camping, swimming, boating, tubing & skiing, fishing & grilling. Some of my best childhood memories come from this place. You have NO IDEA how happy I was, a few years ago, to hear that they had opened back up the swimming beach, after years of closure. Finally, a free & hours of fun activity, to spend time with my kids. (Open from 10 a.m.- 7 p.m., no lifeguard on duty, swim at your own risk.) Anyway, let's get to the point. -- When you first enter, into New Gillespie Lake, you will see a horse show ring, to your right (pictured above, right). I, personally, LOVE the way the trail, to the right side of the ring, looks in the fall (pictured above, middle). Drive a little further into the campground, past the camper and tent camping with electric. You will, then, see the Gillespie Lake Office and Store, to your left; a large parking lot to your right. In the left corner of that parking lot, their are a few tent camping spots, without electric. This spot, gives a lovely shading, from the trees, leaving the sun out of our eyes. It, also, has a lovely view of the lake (pictured above, left)! If we catch the spot empty, which can be easy to do, if you schedule your session on a weekday or off camping season... It makes a great spot for mid-day sessions. Lastly, there is the beach. Now, with this spot, it can be ridiculously bright, most of the day. Therefor, I'd recommend golden hour (the last hour, before the sun is set) sessions, for beach sessions. (Early morning has a golden hour, too... Most aren't willing to wake that early, for a photo session, though. LOL!) Many lakes, such as: Litchfield, Carlinville, Hillsboro, Bunker Hill... They all have potential for photo shoot areas! ;) 5. Bremer's Sanctuary- Butler, IL (20 miles from Gillespie) 194 Bremer Ln, 62015

Bremer Sanctuary, just north of Hillsboro, is not only a protected area and home for scores of birds and animals in central Montgomery County, Illinois... it is also an education center and a showplace for natural areas restoration. Spring and fall are especially active times for outdoor classroom education programs for county schools. But a hard-working group of volunteers is involved almost every week throughout the year working to maintain the facility and in woodland and prairie restoration activities. (Plus, they welcome you to join them!) I did not know this place existed, until high school senior, Karli (pictured above), invited me to capture her session, there. When I got there, I was thrilled! So many options between wispy prairie grass, trails in the woods, trails in the open, a little tiny covered bridge, beautiful, thick woods! This place is so heavenly. I can't wait to go back, for another session. If you don't mind the drive, this is a beautiful place to check out. 6. Your Local "Uptown" Main Street

I'm sure that you have driven up and down your local main street (or maybe even the next town over's main street) and thought... "Gosh, what a run down town.", or something similar, at least once. I'm guilty of it, myself. However, the next time you drive down your main street, try and notice those small things, that your local city & small businesses, have worked so hard on. Between adding spruces of color, to their store fronts, adding props outside the store, just for your eye... or the planters & trees, the city workers and/or volunteers, work so hard on. You don't really need a TON of things, to have a spruced up photo. For instance, if you happen to drive down Staunton main street, there is the vintage clock, next to the library, along with beautiful brick buildings, all along main street, making very nice, simple backgrounds. I really enjoy the front and side of Cisler Real Estate. There is The Macoupin Art Collective building, with a beautiful, painted mural on the wall. One side street, with a large hill, has a beautiful fence, as far the eye can see, along the sidewalk (1st photo in slider). There's the skate park (9th photo in slider), over by the ball fields. Both spots would be great for skate sessions/baseball sessions! -Those are off of Leanord Street, not main street, by the way. - There is, also, Duda Park, off of N. Union Street. (We'll go into further detail about this park, next.) If you just aren't inspired by these smaller towns around here, I have been just dying to do a session around Carlinville square or Broadway Street, in Alton. ;) Litchfield's State Street has some beautiful, colorful buildings, also... OH, & Hillsboro main street! Okay. I'll stop, now! Haha!

7. Duda Park- Staunton, IL (8.7 miles from Gillespie)

Duda Dr, 62088

Duda Park- So, many locals cringe, when they hear someone say "pictures at Duda park". I understand! It's been over-played, and nearly every local photographer flocks there. I mean, I edited another photographer, her senior model & his mom, out of the pouty photo, of my beautiful niece, Arabella. (To be clear, I'm not hating on the photog, she was there for the same thing I was.) That being said, it's a great local spot & within the 10 mile, no charge driving limit. It is a well-maintained spot, with pretty flowers, bushes, trees, benches, a stoned path & big white gazebo, all protected by a tree line & creek in the back, and a big black gate, at the entrance. & I promise, I will create, for you, such beautiful memories, no matter the location. 8. Worden Community Park- Worden, IL (16.5 miles from Gillespie)

Just outside of Staunton, is a small, old village by the name of Worden. My son just adores their community park. I have to say, I do too! Reason 1: the blacktop under the play gym! We all hate those pesky, dusty pebble-rocks, in our shoes. Wood chips are no better, especially after a good rain. The play gym is a plastic/wooden material (3rd photo, above), with quite a few slides, monkey bars, bridges, etc. & if they get tired of that one, there's a smaller, tot sized play gym, towards the end of the ball fields. Which reminds me of reason 2, why I adore this park... They have bathrooms! Yes! & Clean bathrooms, to boot! LOL. Bonus-- drinking fountains on the side of the bathroom pavilion. There are pavilions with picnic tables for seating & shade. Plus, plenty of trash cans, so we don't have to worry about leaving a mess or dragging it into our car, back home. Now, onto the photo opportunities, here. First, we have the baseball fields. In between them, there is an open patch of green grass (almost always trimmed down- 1st photo, above), with a tree line, behind. This place is most beautiful, in Summer months. Second, we have the ability of keeping long, pretty gowns in-tact; We have plenty of sidewalks, along with a bike trail, off of one side of the park, to keep from walking in fields of mud and/or grass. Lastly, there is a beautiful open field/sky, on the other side of the park (2nd photo, above & behind my son, playing puddles). It makes a simple, yet perfect background... ESPECIALLY, if you're into those shots with vibrant skies! 9. Your Own Home

So, I'm bringing this subject up. Why? Why do so many of you steer away from having your session in your own home?! I mean... What screams "THIS IS MY FAMILY", more than your home? I know, it's a bummer, for you and I both, that I don't currently have a studio. We can still pull off those lifestyle newborn sessions, those bath time sessions for your little's, those princess tea party sessions, those 'Baking with Mom and Grandma' sessions, those 'I really wanna show off our new home' sessions... & we can even do shots for composites, in your home. (View bottom left & bottom right photos, for example of composites.) The bottom left photo was created by placing the baby next to a window with light shining in, myself standing on a couch & then, transferring the image of the baby, to a digital backdrop. The photo on the bottom right, was my son, standing in our living room, against a white wall. I turned a lamp on it's side, set it on a table & pointed it towards him. A little editing magic & that photo, is the result. Honestly, I could go forever without a studio. (I won't, of course!) We only need a well lit-home, rather that be many and/or large windows, with sun shining through OR tons of great lighting via light fixtures. So, okay, if your home is dark and gloomy, I understand not going this route. But please, don't let the messes concern you. You do live there. It's no surprise that you have belongings! & in home shoots, tend to be A LOT about close-ups. I hope I've convinced you, to book an in-home session! ;)

10. The Nan Elliot Memorial Rose Garden of Gordon Moore Community Park- Alton, IL (30.6 miles from Gillespie) 4550 College Ave, 62002

The rose garden serves as a main focal point at Gordon Moore Community Park. The rose garden has roughly 1 acre of ground, over 150 varieties and 1600+ rose bushes. It begins its normal bloom cycle in late May or early June, lasting until the first hard freeze of fall. This would be the crucial time to hit up this location! The Rose Garden has become a popular location for weddings and pictures for all events such as proms and family reunions. On average the Rose Garden plays host to about 70 weddings and memorial/funeral services each year. Thus, we may want to have a back-up plan, just in case we get there to find, a wedding party has taken over the place. It's a beautiful location, that is most definitely, worth the risk, though!

Photo courtesy of

11. Wilson Park- Granite City, IL (45.7 miles from Gillespie) 2900 Benton St, 62040

Wilson park is home to over 1,000 native and rare trees. They accent the parks many amenities, from the formal gardens that include a fountain, gazebo and many different plants. The park also features 1 lighted softball field, 7 baseball fields, 6 lighted tennis courts, playground, including one of the largest handicap accessible playgrounds in the Midwest. I recommend this place, mainly, because my dear friend, Samantha, grew up in Granite City and currently resides, there. Due to the fact that I have done many sessions, for her family, I've picked up a few clients that live near her. I, also, don't mind the excuse to visit her, while I'm down there. The park is beautiful year round. Winter sessions (first set of photos) are beautiful there... but I just adore the tulip garden's, in the Spring. Summer has radiant foliage, also! 12. The Twistee Treat Diner (OR other vintage diners)- Livingston, IL (15.1 miles from Gillespie) 908 Veterans Memorial Dr, 62058

The Twistee Treat- I only have one cell image, of this place. & it just does NOT do it justice. I mean... I know there is a woman out there, desperate for a pick-me-up. What better, than a vintage shoot at this diner?! OR, perhaps, you're little tot has a best friend & you can envision them, sitting at the bar (not pictured), sipping milkshakes. She's wearing her hair like 'I Love Lucy' & wearing a Marilyn Monroe styled dress. He's wearing a black leather jacket, over a white shirt, with his hair slicked back. Heck, this would make a great adult session. Who am I kidding?! PLLLEEEAAASSEE, Someone, anyone at all. Let's do your photo session, here! ;) 13. Your Own High School- HS SENIORS

BHP offers a "Cap 'n' Gown" Senior Package; and the "Gold" Senior Package includes 2 locations. Some seniors and parents, often, have a hard time coming up with 2 locations, that they'd like. How about the high school you are graduating from? The only thing to keep in mind, is what you may or may not have access to. If you are unsure, stop by the school office & ask for permission, the date of your session. They should help clear any rules, etc. We can use the building itself, along with the foliage, planted around the school. We can use the football field & bleachers (please consider when games or practice are going to occur on the field). We can use the buses, if accessible. We can use the locker rooms and/or gym. Or how about those hallways, that you've been walking for years, with a little pit-stop at your locker?! Yep, I definitely recommend using your school, for your senior session. 14. The Gardens at SIUE Arboretum Lane- Edwardsville, IL (33.7 miles from Gillespie)

The Gardens at SIUE comprises existing woodlands, ponds, grasslands and an arboretum on a lush and rolling 36-acre site.- It is located east of the core area, of the SIUE campus, off North University Drive. For GPS navigation, enter “6 Arboretum Lane, Edwardsville, Illinois.”- Gardens, facilities and amenities feature renewable, recycled and sustainability-produced materials. During the early phases of its development, the Gardens at SIUE was one of three world-renowned Missouri Botanical Gardens’ Signature Gardens. They ask that you not pick the flowers or make collections of any kind. Explore and enjoy the grounds, but please leave what you find. Dogs (no other pets) are welcome to visit The Gardens, but please keep them on a leash. They also ask that you pick up after your pet. If you're planning a first-time visit, or if it has been awhile since you’ve stopped by, prepare to be amazed! The grounds are open from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year, and admission is free.

Free parking, in any of The Gardens parking lots off Arboretum Lane, is available for community and university visitors. No parking permit is required. Other rules you may need to know: Gardens Etiquette Photography Policy

15. My Parent's Home & 3 Acres of Land- Sawyerville, IL (4.3 miles from Gillespie) 607 Stewart Avenue, 62085

If you were to Google, 'Brianna Hupp Photography', you'd find that Google Maps will tell you, that BHP is located on Stewart Avenue of Benld. (Occasionally, it decides to say Stewart Avenue of Sawyerville.) The reason that BHP appears to be located there, via Maps, is because I, so often, recommend my parents property to clients. It can be difficult to find, without a navigator. So, I set that up to help guide my clients in the right direction. ANYWAY, just look at those beautiful photographs, above! Need I say more about my parents yard?! ^_^ There you have it! 15 locations for your photo session. I can't wait to book with you!

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