Photographing Kansas

Michele Wanke
Kansas state capitol building

Photographing Kansas is not unlike shooting other famous sites in North America. The state is filled with natural treasures, historical monuments and quirky items that are sure to make your photo albums pop.

Best Places to Visit When Photographing Kansas

There is no lack of frame worthy photo subjects in the state of Kansas. The "Sunflower State" sits smack in the middle of America's Heartland and is bursting with beautiful and thought-provoking scenes. People travel from around the world with the goal of photographing Kansas and rarely are they disappointed with the results.

If photographing Kansas has been a lifelong dream, then don't miss shooting the following:

Historic

When photographing Kansas, you don't want to pass up a trip to downtown Topeka. That's where you will find the Kansas State Capitol Building. Built in 1903, the historic building took nearly 40 years to complete. It is now on the National Historic Register and draws visitors from all four corners of the globe.Most photographers aim to document the building's dome. Richard Bergen's 22-foot tall bronze sculpture, "Ad Astra," which sits high a top the building's dome, is worth documenting. However, the awe-inspiring murals that sit beneath the massive dome are even more impressive. The most famous mural dubbed, "Bleeding Kansas," is a stunning work of art. It depicts abolitionist leader John Brown at the heart of the growing storm of the American Civil War.

History buffs don't want to miss photographing Kansas' Cottonwood Station. Built in the 1850s, it was a main stopping point on the Pony Express. Riders would rumble up to the station, switch horses and thunder off down the trail, which ran from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California.

Today, the Kansas State Historical Society operates a museum and visitor's center at the site. Photographers of all skill levels are allowed to document the location, which features a wealth of historic documents and artifacts.

Natural

Konza Prairie Research Natural Area, located in Manhattan, Kansas, is the ideal setting for nature and landscape photographers. When photographing Kansas during the spring and summer months, this is the place to be. The Tall Grass Prairie, featured in the natural area once covered 400,000 square miles of the United States, but now less than one percent of it is left, and almost all of it can be captured by photographers.Visitors have seemingly endless views of grassland and wildlife to document, as the site is considered the richest grazing area in the world. However, Prairie Grass is not the only thing that grows here. Dozens of species of flowers bloom and flourish during spring and summer, most notably the "Prairie Rose," which explodes in a camera viewfinder, especially if you are using the macro mode.

Animal lovers will enjoy the challenging of photographing the amazing diversity of wildlife that calls Konza home. Everything from bison to birds, lizards to butterflies roam and fly through the open fields. Be sure to pack a tripod if you plan to snap photos of bison from a distance, as camera shake can ruin a picture perfect shot.

Quirky

For adventurous shooters, Kansas is not without eye-popping subjects. One of the quirkiest sites in the state is the World's Largest Ball of Twine, located in downtown Cawker City. The small Central Kansas town is home to a 40 plus-foot ball of twine that weighs more than 15,000 pounds and contains over 1,100 miles of twine--with more being added all the time! If you are traveling alone, be sure to bring your tripod and learn how to operate your camera's self timer, as you will surely want a shot of you standing by the twine ball to show off to your family and friends.

Other Places to Consider When Photographing Kansas

Kansas is chock-full of amazing photo-friendly sites. Other noteworthy places to photograph include:

  • Monroe Elementary School: The school sparked the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education ruling. The school grounds are now a National Park.
  • The Red Hills: This region of Kansas is known for its stunning natural beauty, including a tree-lined trail filled with gorgeous scenery.
  • Oregon Trail Nature Park: Located halfway between Topeka and Manhattan, the popular wildlife area is home to various natural treasures, though the most notable feature in the park is the unique silo mural. Painted by a local artist, the three-part mural portrays the history of the area and the influence of Western culture.
Photographing Kansas