WHERE TO TAKE PHOTOS WHEN YOU HAVE TO STAY INSIDE
It’s pretty common for family photo shoots to take place outdoors – whether in a picturesque park setting or perhaps something with an urban vibe. But sometimes, the weather just gets in the way.
One of the most-asked questions chambanamoms.com readers send into our Facebook page and email inbox is asking for suggestions on where to go to have photos when the weather outside is downright frightful. This is especially common during the holidays when it’s cold, or during prom season, which often falls during one of the rainiest times of the year here in Champaign-Urbana.
No matter the season, rain and inclement weather can sour the best of family photo shoots. Here, we’ve put together a Champaign-Urbana area list of places that are possibilities for indoor photo shoots. (Note that these are just IDEAS; some places, even if open to the public, may not want photo shoots taking place in their building without express permission. When in doubt, ASK.)
Looking for a photographer? Check our photographer listings. Planning a fall photo shoot for your family? Our readers weigh in on their favorite spots in Champaign-Urbana and beyond to have fall family photos taken over in this article.
University of Illinois campus buildings and locations:
Note that some campus locations, such as the University of Illinois libraries, are not as amenable to taking posed photographs. The below locations have been used by other locals. Be aware that many of these buildings have specific hours and you may need to ask permission.
“The plant conservatory on campus is really wonderful and free. It’s full of tropical plants that make a great backdrop.” We have an article on the University of Illinois Plant Biology Greenhouse; note limited hours.
“Krannert Center for the Performing Arts Lobby. Lovely, open, and dry!” Located in Urbana at 500 S. Goodwin Ave.
“The Business Instructional Facility on campus has beautiful indoor lighting great for photos.” Located in Champaign at 515 E. Gregory Drive.
“I have done pics at the Illini Union. There is a nice fireplace that I have used for a backdrop.” Located in Urbana at 1401 W. Green Street.
Other ideas of campus buildings: Krannert Art Museum (especially the Kincaid Pavilion area) and Spurlock Museum (that staircase!) are both buildings used to the general public – and used to people taking a lot of photos.
Public buildings not on campus:
Illinois Terminal, downtown Champaign: The transportation hub for Champaign, there is our Amtrak stop and where buses transfer; it’s a hustling bustling place. We know that downtown Champaign is a popular place to take photos. So is Illinois Terminal, especially the second floor which has a lot of natural light coming through the windows facing downtown.
Market Place Shopping Center, Champaign: One of the most underrated picturesque indoor locations in town: The carousel at Market Place. Of course, there are other locations in the mall as well. Ride fees may apply for the carousel.
Lincoln Square Mall, downtown Urbana: This is a good option for daylight hours during the winter; the skylights let in plenty of light especially in the main atrium area near the IDEA Store. We have an example below. We can’t vouch for rainy days, though.
The Champaign Public Library: I’ve always thought the Champaign Public Library would be a magical place for a photo shoot. Seek permission; photos could disrupt library patrons.
Willard Airport, Savoy: Open long hours, lots of natural light, and plenty of interesting nooks and crannies. And escalators! However, you could raise a few eyebrows as airports have significant security issues, of course.
Museums and Attractions:
Monticello Railway Museum, Monticello: Only open seasonally, one of the more unique options on this list: get on the train and snap away. There are other indoor locations at the Museum, but on a train car – what could be better? Generally open on weekends only, May through October.
Allerton Park Visitor Center, Monticello: Most people think of Allerton for outdoor photos. But there is some indoor spaces, too. The Mansion isn’t always open, but the visitor’s center is.Greenhouse environments are often great for indoor photos. Open daily, 9-5. Get a cup of coffee or a snack while you’re there.
The Orpheum Children’s Science Museum, downtown Champaign: What a fun place to take pics. Worth the price of admission. Limited hours, however.
A few Champaign favorites include the Pekara on Springfield and Prospect; Hopscotch Bakery in Champaign; and Avionics on First Street. In Urbana, try Caffe Paradiso, made recently famous by former President Obama’s stop there; Cafeteria and Company downtown; or the very spacious Broadway Food Hall. All of these places have different hours, so check first.
For private businesses especially, be aware that photo shoots may not always be welcome in those establishments.
Hotels can be great especially if large groups are involved. Of course, not all hotels make good photo backdrops. A couple of the most popular options:
– The I-Hotel and Conference Center, Champaign (next to State Farm Center). The most grand lobby area in town, there are is a ton of interesting artwork around the conference center as well. Always well decorated at the holidays, too.
– The Hyatt Place, downtown Champaign.
Ask your place of worship if you can “borrow” the building for photos. Churches, temples and synagogues tend to have unique backdrops and often have lots of natural light. If feasible, this could be a great option – even if you’re not there for a religious occasion.
What suggestions would you add?