Every few years I rewrite this blog post and it’s always one of my most visited posts. So since I haven’t updated this post since 2018, there is an updated list of my favorite places for outdoor family photography Indianapolis and surrounding areas.
Before you dive into the list, there are a few things to consider… The best time of day for outdoor family photography is at sunrise or an hour before sunset. Some of these locations are best at one time or the other.
If you are interested in a location not on the list, don’t fret! I love finding new spots to shoot and I would be happy to check out a location for you.
Here is the list of best locations for family photography around Indianapolis.
Flowing Wells Park – This park isn’t huge, but it offers a lot for it’s small size. It’s located off of 116th in Carmel, IN. If you like the look of running water though a rock filled water bed this is the perfect location for you. The Cool Creek runs right though the middle of this park and it’s truly beautiful! There is also a fun bridge and lots of rustic and green areas. This location is great all year round but is especially nice in the summer months when we can end the session in the water.
Holcomb Gardens – This park is especially lovely in Spring/early Summer when the flowering trees are in bloom but it also doubles a s a great location in the Fall to capture the changing colors. This location is on Butler University’s campus. But don’t worry, you won’t find any giant Butler logos or any bulldogs here. Instead you will find a giant weeping willow over the canal, a fun bridge, well groomed greenery, an area of ungroomed greenery, and even a little water feature. This location is great all year round! If you want a park that isn’t too rustic this is a great option.
Eagle Creek Park – This is a large park on the North West side of town. It’s lovely all year round but it’s especially beautiful in the Fall. It offers some of the best fall colors in the city. This is a rustic location with lots of greenery, streams, rocks, tall wild grass, and so much more. If you are looking for a location that offers that rustic feel this is a fantastic option!
West Park – This park is located in Carmel, IN (north of downtown) on the west side of the city off of 116th street. It has lots of tall wild grass which photographs lovely. There is also a fun stone feature, wood plank walking path around a pond, and a few walking paths that offer beautiful greenery during the spring/summer months and Fall colors in the Fall. If you like the tall wild grass look that is very popular right now this is the best park for that.
Fort Harrison State Park – This is a large park on the north east side of the city. This park is great year round, but anyone wanting to capture the fall colors, this location is ideal. This park is perfect for a couple or family that wants to capture lots of nature in their images. The backdrop selections here include water, wooden bridges, brush, lots of trees and natural greenery, walking paths, and more.
Cool Creek Park Nature Center – This is another good location if you are looking for something rustic. The park is located on the north side of Carmel (almost to Westfiled). It’s a large park with lots of shooting options including flowing water (the Cool Creek River runs though the park), nature paths, lots of wooded areas, open green areas, a number of bridges, and more. This would be a fantastic location for capturing the Fall colors but it’s good all year round.
Newfields (Formally known as the Indianapolis Museum of Art) – Newfields is an art museum located on the near North West side of the city. It has lots of gardens that are groomed professionally. It is truly a gorgeous location! The only catch with this location is that they require a photography permit to take pictures here. This will cost you a little bit and it requires some advanced planning. I love the look of this location, but the permit hassle makes this location a little less desirable. The cost for this is $50 which I ask the client to pay and the permit must be obtained/approved 3 weeks before the shoot takes place. They also limit the timing of sessions so depending on the time of year you have to have your session at a less than desirable time.
100 Acres Woods – This is such a fun location! It is located right around the street from Newfields. There are a variety of backdrops including water and greenery, a modern basketball court with fun tubing, an interesting tunnel, and stairwells. This area isn’t as well groomed as Newfields, but there are still areas that are professionally groomed. This is a great location for a family that wants something rustic/outdoorsy but not too country. There are no timing restrictions on this location which makes it more desirable than Newfields.
Holiday Park – This location looks good all year. This park has a unique setting which includes brick ruins. This makes for some interest in pictures. Surrounding the ruins are lots of trees and greenery. So you can get some variety in your images at this park. This park does require a shooting past. However, I have a yearly pass to this park so there is no additional cost to you as my client to shoot here. This is one of my most popular Fall shooting locations.
Dull’s Tree Farm – Dull’s is in Thornton, IN. Yes, it’s a little bit of a drive, but it’s so worth it. In the Summer months it has a stunning wildflower field and in November I love to shoot here for tree farm sessions. I’m also lucky enough to be one of only 8 photographers, in the state of Indiana, to have a pass to shoot here.
Spencer’s Farm – If you are looking for some epic sunflowers during your session Spencer’s Farm is the place! This location has the huge sunflowers in a huge field. I typically offer mini sessions here in last July and you can also book a full session here, if you like. There is a fee to shoot here (but it’s worth it!!) and the season for sunflowers only lasts about two weeks. You have to plan ahead and still be a little flexible as the growing season isn’t set in stone.
Downtown Zionsville – If you prefer an urban setting over rustic then this is a perfect location for you! Downtown Zionsville has lots of charm including brick roads, store fronts with character, wrought iron fencing, and even a little park that has some greenery. This location is great all year round including winter when they have the holiday lights up.
Lockerbie Historic District – Lockerbie is the the oldest intact neighborhood in Indianapolis. Lots of time and effort has gone into restoring this area. It’s no big city but instead its a cute little area FULL of charm – seriously it’s super cute. The area has brick side walks, adorable architecture, greenery, and so much more.
Downtown Indianapolis – The heart of the city is a great location for those who want a completely urban setting. Of course you can get your picture with the monument, on the canal, and the state house on the circle. But, there are lots of fun nooks and crannies within the city including rustic alley ways and fun store fronts. I’ve got a few favorite spots, feel free to reach out and we can pick one that might work best for your family.
Downtown Carmel near the Carmel Palladium – Bring your walking shoes, and lets travel around Carmel, IN and take some pictures! There is also a good variety of backdrops here including – polished architecture near the Platinum, lots of brick, the Monon trail, and ending your session in front of the Cake Bake shop is always fun.
Your Local Parking Garage – Shooting families in parking garages at sunset is a blast. The mix of city surroundings and the fading sunlight makes for some lively shots. The setting often leads to candid, playful moments that show the family’s genuine connection. There are a few different parking garages where I like to shoot – just ask and we will pick the prefect one for your family.
Broad Ripple – Broad Ripple is a fun, colorful, young, lively area. In Broad Ripple you have the Monon trail, bright colorful store fronts, modern art, a little bit of greenery, and awesome bridges. This is a very trendy place to have pictures taken.
Somewhere In Between Urban and Rustic
Coxhall Gardens – In Carmel, IN you will find this park which includes lots of well groomed flowers and greenery, and some fun structures. You can’t leave Coxhill Gardens without doing at least one jumping picture, as there is a fun amphitheater with large steps perfect for jumping pictures. I like to end sessions in front of the weeping willow trees. When the sun shines threw them it’s magical!
White River State Park / The Canal – This park is in Downtown Indianapolis. The park is very iconic to Indianapolis and offers some great views with the city skyline in the background. This is a great area to get a good variety of backdrops. You can find a mixtures of greenery, city/urban-ness, brick walls, and water features.
Central Park in Carmel –This is quickly becoming one of my most popular locations. It offers a variety of backdrops including under a bridge, boardwalk/water, fun silhouette, late summers offers flowers, and tall grass. It’s great all year for sunset sessions!
Kawachinagano Japanese Garden – This is a fun little park tucked in Carmel. It’s stunning in Spring when all the Japanese trees are in bloom. The park is near City Hall so you can start your session in the gardens and end it with the brick backdrop of City Hall. It makes for a session with lots of variety.
I hope you found this list of my favorite locations for family photography helpful! If you are looking to have your photos taken in or near Indianapolis I would love to be your Indianapolis photographer! Please reach out and we can get a date on the calendar.