Out of Chicago Botanic

Flower & Garden Photography Conference

August 29-September 2, 2021

Image by Anne Belmont

Spark your creativity in a diverse, botanical paradise with 5 days of flower and garden photography, shooting side-by-side with the pros.

Immerse yourself in 385 acres of gardens as you photograph landscapes of contrasting colors, shapes and textures, including dahlias, cactus flowers, water lilies, lotuses, hummingbirds, butterflies, native plants and roses at the Chicago Botanic Garden. From the Japanese Garden to the Sensory Garden and English Oak Meadow, wander the garden paths as you push your creativity learning to capture flower personalities, use diffusers and reflectors, shoot garden landscapes, post-process textures and more.



Out of Chicago Botanic brings over a dozen leading creative flower and garden photographers together for an intimate conference experience. Ranging from garden landscapes to macro scenes, learn hands-on a variety of creative photography styles and diverse perspectives from this all-star team. Each day you will go in the field to shoot side-by-side and photograph all the prized places in the Chicago Botanic Garden. With this many creative photographers in one place, we promise to deliver an inspired, mega-workshop and photography experience.

“It was an amazing week. In all different kinds of ways. You learn a ton of information from phenomenal photographers. It’s something for everyone.”




Over five days, explore 385 acres of gardens as you shoot side-by-side with ten of the best flower and garden photographers in the world. Each day choose who you want to learn from and where you want to go. From the Japanese Garden to the Circle Garden, Sensory Garden and more, you won’t want to miss out on this epic photography experience. The event is limited to 100 attendees. In-the-field sessions are in small groups, limited to no more than 10 participants per instructor.

  • Learn creative techniques to capture flowers and gardens
  • Learn to find compelling subjects that capture emotion
  • Learn macro flower photography basics and effective camera settings
  • Learn about light and how to work with it to create impact
  • Compose for macro photography, small scenes and grand landscapes
  • Slow down and practice mindfulness in photography
  • Learn to use aperture creatively
  • Discover workflow tips from capture to print.
  • Get post-processing tips from the pros
  • Experiment with new techniques such as light box photography and water drop refraction
  • And much more
A sample of sessions to choose from.

Photographing Small Scenes with Sarah Marino

Artistic Floral Images with Jackie Kramer

Using Lensbaby and Vintage Lenses for Still Life Floral Subjects with Gerri Jones

Photographing Flowers for Transparency with Harold Davis

Black and White Post-processing with Alan Shapiro

Textures and Impressions with Jamie Konarski Davidson

Macro Photography with Don Komarechka

Bring Impact and Emotion to your Images with Anne Belmont


Each day will be an adventure as you explore the Chicago Botanic Garden. Keep yourself immersed in photography, morning, noon and night. Push your creativity and technical skills with daily hands-on, in-the-field photography classes, discussions and small group critiques.

Day 1
Check in to Embassy Suites Northshore in Deerfield, IL (4pm)
Meet & greet reception
Group dinner
Welcome by Chris Smith, founder of Out of Chicago
Opening keynote presentation with Anne Belmont
Evening breakout sessions

Day 2, Day 3, Day 4
Cooked-to-order breakfast at Embassy Suites
Morning field sessions at the Chicago Botanic Garden/mini workshops at hotel
Group lunch/Group presentation
Afternoon field sessions at the Chicago Botanic Garden/mini workshops at hotel
Dinner with your excursion/workshop group at the Garden or area restaurants
Evening classes, image reviews
Scheduled time to work with an instructor one-on-one

Day 5
Cooked-to-order breakfast at Embassy Suites
Closing presentation
Check out of hotel (11am)
Photocrawl at Garden

Location and Accommodation


Experience 385 acres and 27 spectacular prized gardens at the Chicago Botanic Garden, including the Japanese Garden, English Walled Garden and Oak Meadow. Classroom sessions take place at the Embassy Suites Northshore by Hilton in Deerfield, Illinois, an all-suite hotel that is set-up as a perfect basecamp for photographers, with first-class accommodations, conference facilities and an awesome happy hour! The Chicago Botanic Garden is conveniently located just down the road, where daily hands-on excursions take place. This is the perfect place to learn, play and be inspired.

“It was wonderful to be among so many people who didn’t think I was crazy for wanting to shoot all day, every day.”


Conference Price


Reserve with a deposit of $900. The remaining balance is due 60 days before the event. This event is limited to 100 attendees.

What’s included?
Opening dinner and 3 lunches
Hands-on instruction from the top photographers in the field
More than 75 scheduled sessions to choose from for a personalized learning experience
Daily hands-on workshops and in-the-field excursions
Personal one-on-one sessions and small-group image reviews
Private Facebook group to connect with your fellow photographers to coordinate carpools

What’s not included?
Hotel, Airfare and Transportation
Membership to the Garden
Most dinners are on your own so you can go out with fellow attendees and instructors​

“Thank you for enriching our lives by bringing us all together with such beautiful, passionate instructors. They gave us so much inspiration. So many life lessons. Not just photography.”


Frequently Asked Questions

We have a block of rooms so everyone can stay at one hotel. Rooms are $139 + tax a night and can be obtained by calling 847-945-4500. Mention “Out of Chicago” at registration.

We recommend everyone stays at the Embassy Suites Northshore Hilton. Part of the fun of the conference is hanging out with photographer friends and instructors, eating breakfast together, attending Happy Hour (free to hotel guests) and sharing the elevator together as you start and end each day. Check-in is at 3 p.m. and check-out is at noon. Your room includes a delicious made-to-order breakfast each morning and Happy Hour.

After registering for your conference, you will get an email with details about the conference including key dates, hotel information and more. Be sure to stay connected via email to receive crucial event communication including surveys about your preferences and updates as needed.
We will send an email to registered attendees before the event and ask you who you want to work with, what you want to learn, and the locations you want to photograph. Our team will take this information to create your personalized schedule for the event. One of the benefits of attending our conferences is being able to work with and get to know a variety of instructors, with a diverse range of styles. It may not be possible to go in the field with the same instructor every day, but everyone will be able to work with their top instructor choices and photograph their top locations.

The conference and classroom sessions will be held at Embassy Suites Northshore by Hilton (1445 Lake Cook Road, in Deerfield, Illinois). Daily hands-on excursions will take place at the Chicago Botanic Garden, just a ten minute drive east of the hotel. You can fly into Chicago O’Hare International Airport (30 min drive) or Midway International Airport (1-1.5 hr drive). You are responsible for your own transportation.

You will meet your field session group each day at the Garden and stay with this same group throughout the event to minimize close exposure.

For those that would like to participate in carpools, we will organize groups to minimize the number of garden memberships required. Every car must have one person with a membership or pay the parking fees to enter the Botanic Garden (see below about memberships).

Parking reservations may be required ahead of time for the Garden. We will provide more instructions as we get closer to the event.

That’s ok, too, but keep in mind that we have long days and adding a commute will make your day even longer.

Not everyone will need memberships to the Garden (see section above “How are we getting to the Chicago Botanic Garden”). If you decide to visit the Garden on your own before, during or after the conference, you will need to purchase a membership or be willing to pay the daily parking fee.

Admission to Chicago Botanic Garden is free, however there is a $25 parking fee per car/per day. Parking is free for members. If you are riding with others in a car, only one person in the car needs to have a membership card. This card is presented at the gate house as you come into the garden before you park near the Visitor’s Center. Once you park and go through the Visitor’s Center, no one checks your membership again – you walk right through to the gardens.

A basic “Garden 1” membership is $99. Or, a “National Garden 1” membership is $72 (for those who live 75 miles or more from the Garden). Information on memberships is available here. There are many gardens all over the country that have reciprocal memberships that will get you into CBG without the parking fee. Check the listing here to see if your membership to another garden is reciprocal. You can simply show that membership card at the gatehouse, so don’t forget to bring it with you.

Please note that although the gatehouse opens at 8 a.m., it is possible to get into the Garden much earlier. We will offer some excursions earlier in the morning. The Garden closes at sunset so we will be able to photograph later on some evenings to take advantage of beautiful light. The Garden Cafe with an outdoor grill and terrace is a great place to have dinner with your group after an afternoon excursion.

Chicago Botanic Garden covers 385 acres and comprised of 27 individual gardens and 3 greenhouses. We will be photographing all areas of the Garden including the aquatic gardens, the English Walled Garden, The Circle Garden, the Rose Garden, the Sensory Garden, the Japanese Garden to name a few. There are many beautiful landscapes to be captured such as the Serpentine Bridge, the Carillon Tower, the vistas of the Japanese Garden and more. Learn more about the garden here.

Most excursion locations will be an easy 10 minute walk from the parking lot.

Typically August is warm but varies from year to year. We chose August because it holds the least chance for rain and is the month when the gardens are at their lushest. The variety of flowers to photograph is endless.

We encourage excursions to go out in light rain but schedules will be re-arranged to accommodate heavier rain, as needed.

Photography enthusiasts and pros. All levels of passionate photographers are welcome. Just be ready to eat, sleep and drink flower and garden photography for five days.

You’ll want a DSLR or mirrorless camera and a tripod. A macro lens is suggested as well as a wider angle lens for garden landscapes. A longer focal length zoom lens with a polarizing filter is helpful for capturing waterlilies in the aquatic gardens. We’ll share detailed equipment recommendations before the event. A laptop is suggested so you can work on your images during the post-processing and critique sessions.

Tripods are allowed in all areas of the Garden and in the greenhouses. Do not place tripods in plant material or block paths with tripods or equipment. Be mindful that people with handicaps may need more room to navigate paths. A good article on etiquette in a botanic garden by instructor Anne Belmont can be found here

Yes! We’ll have some of your favorite equipment manufacturers on hand to loan out equipment to try during the field sessions. Gary Farber and Hunt’s Photo will be at the event to provide anything you may need during the event.

You bet! Throughout the week we will eat meals together, hang out in the evening and photograph together in small groups. There will be plenty of time to ask questions and hang out with your favorite photographers.

This is a hands-on, immersive photography experience. We’re not going to bring you all the way to Chicago Botanic Garden to sit in a classroom watching something you could watch in bed on YouTube. Over 5 days, you’ll learn new techniques in the field while shooting with some of the world’s best photographers. There is classroom time available to practice post-processing and to get feedback on images, but you’ll be in the field a good deal of the time. There are plenty of options available each day for you to create a schedule that matches your interests, inside and outside the classroom.

We will release the full detailed schedule six weeks before the event. At this time, we will give directions for you to choose your sessions and preferred instructors you want to work with so we can create a custom schedule for you. Group presentations are open to everyone. In-the-field sessions are limited to 10 participants. All participants will have an equal opportunity to get into the sessions of their choice.

Of course! They are welcome to join us for the group presentations at no charge. The in-the-field teaching excursions are limited to ten people and are reserved for conference attendees only. A meal pass will be offered at an additional charge so that they can join us for group meals.

With the evolving recovery of the pandemic, we continue to observe recommendations by  the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and local guidelines for events. This includes physical distancing, masking, health screening and sanitation protocols.

Please stay home if:

  • You have tested positive for COVID-19 or are showing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • You have had close contact with a person who has symptoms of COVID-19 within the past 14 days.
  • Please see our updated refund policy in case you choose not to attend or the state regulations do not allow our event to run with this format.

Your final payment for the conference is due 60 days before the event begins.

You can read the refund policy here.

You can view all of the events you’re registered for by logging into your Out of Chicago account. In the upper right corner of the website, go to “my account” and “my conferences”. You should see your conference listed there. If it is not, please email us at support@outofchicago.com.

If you have any other questions, please email me at chris@outofchicago.com.

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