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5 Key Things to Know About Chautauqua Park for Your Boulder Photoshoot with Colleen's Captures


1. Chautauqua is Popular (and Crowded) Location for a Photoshoot

If you've ever strolled through Chautauqua at sunset during portrait season, you've likely seen a parade of family photoshoots. This hotspot's beauty attracts everyone, making it a bustling hive of hikers, picnickers, and photographers. The popularity, however, means it can be tricky to snag that perfect photo spot without other families and photographers vying for the same space. Busy locations also mean lots of background clutter and frequent pauses to let people pass by, turning what could be a serene photoshoot into a logistical challenge.

Despite the hustle and bustle, Chautauqua's vibrant tunning scenery offer a dynamic backdrop that captures the essence of Boulder, Colorado. Its convenient proximity to both Boulder and Denver makes it an accessible and appealing choice for many families without having to go far for stunning scenery.

  • Pros: Beautiful and iconic location, vibrant and lively atmosphere close to Boulder and Denver, Colorado. Perfect location for young children, dog friendly.

  • Cons: Crowded spaces can limit photo opportunities, difficulty in finding secluded spots, frequent interruptions.

2. Light Challenges for Boulder Family Photographers at Chautauqua

Those iconic Flatirons create stunning scenery, but they also steal your golden hour light. With the sun dipping behind the Flatirons earlier than other locations, the coveted soft, warm glow of the golden hour is a rare treat at Chautauqua. This often forces photographers to start sessions earlier, under harsher light conditions, or miss out on that dreamy light altogether.

  • Pros: Unique and dramatic lighting with the Flatirons backdrop, potential for striking silhouettes.

  • Cons: Early sunsets behind the Flatirons reduce golden hour light, harsher light conditions, limited time for optimal lighting.


3. Limited Background Variety for Denver Family Photographers

The Flatirons are breathtaking, but they dominate the Chautauqua landscape, offering little in the way of background diversity. Unless you're up for a substantial hike, your photos will feature the same iconic backdrop, limiting variety in your portraits. This can be a downside if you want a range of images to fill an album or decorate your home with a mix of scenes.

  • Pros: Iconic and recognizable backdrop, strong visual theme for photos.

  • Cons: Lack of variety in backgrounds, potential monotony in a series of photos, limited creativity.


4. The Iconic Appeal of Chautauqua for Family Photos

Despite its drawbacks, Chautauqua remains an iconic spot for family photos, especially if you have a personal or familial connection to Boulder. Capturing your family against the backdrop of the Flatirons creates timeless images that link your family's story to this beautiful location. These photos become part of your family's visual history, evoking memories of a specific place and time.

  • Pros: Timeless and meaningful photos, strong emotional connection to Boulder, iconic scenery.

  • Cons: Requires overcoming logistical and lighting challenges, potential for overused backgrounds in local portfolios.



5. Pair Chautauqua with Another Location for Dreamy Photos

A clever workaround for Chautauqua’s shortcomings is to pair it with another nearby location, like Lost Gulch. Just a short drive away, Lost Gulch offers the light and variety Chautauqua lacks. By starting at Chautauqua and moving to Lost Gulch, you can capture the best of both worlds, enjoying the iconic scenery of the Flatirons and the golden hour light of a higher vantage point.

  • Pros: Combines the best features of both locations, maximizes lighting opportunities, offers a variety of backgrounds.

  • Cons: Requires additional planning and travel time, potential for added costs, need to coordinate permits for multiple locations.


Quick Chautauqua Park Location Facts

  • Easy Access: Convenient and kid-friendly with plenty of space to roam.

  • Best with Another Location: Combine with nearby spots like Lost Gulch to capture the full golden hour.

  • Parking Fees: Non-Boulder residents pay $5 for summer parking, starting Memorial Day. Arrive early to secure a spot.

  • Proximity: 40 minutes from Downtown Denver, 5 minutes from Downtown Boulder, 30 minutes from Longmont, 70 minutes from Greeley, 70 minutes from Fort Collins.


Film Permit Application for Chautauqua Park

  • Operating drones is prohibited on OSMP lands.

  • Most filming projects on OSMP lands require a commercial use permit. You may request an exemption from this requirement if you are working on a student project or a similar endeavor. For more information, please email OSMPPermits@bouldercolorado.gov or visit City of Boulders Website.

  • Photographers note: For still photography shoots, only a commercial use permit is required. A film permit is not necessary.

  • All film permit applicants must also submit a City of Boulder Filming Application.



By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision about whether Chautauqua is the right spot for your family photoshoot.


Colleen's Captures would love to work with you!




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