Having a Winter Wedding or Just Expecting a Rainy Day?
Then you probably just came here for a list of locations. So here’s the TLDR of what we think are the best locations for indoor photos in Indianapolis (we’ll post more information about each place later):
- Indiana Statehouse
- Indianapolis Central Library
- Indianapolis Zoo
- The Indiana State Museum
- Canal 337
- Garment Factory Events
- Biltwell Event Center
- Provider (or Tinker House Events), or your favorite local coffee shop
- Red Key Tavern, or your favorite local bar
- St. Joseph Brewery, or your favorite local brewery
- AirBNB a cool apartment or house with lots of window light
What Should You Look For In A Photographer if You Want Photos Inside?
If you are having a winter wedding, consider looking at your photographer’s indoor work (because it’ll probably be too cold to shoot a lot outside). Make sure your photographer is able to produce work in a style you like while indoors. A lot of photographers only include work shot outside with natural light in their marketing, so don’t feel bad about asking if you can see something a little different before booking. If you’ve already booked a photographer, and they don’t have experience in this area, then you can also ask your venue if they have some examples of indoor portraits that you could then show your photographer.
Finding a Good Interior Space For Photos
Find a space that has a nice background, but more importantly, a space that has good light. When we talk about good light inside, what we’re usually looking for is a window behind or to the side of the photographer. Using a window as a background can be challenging though, because it backlights the people in the portraits. To avoid having all silhouette shots or photos where people are surrounded by glowing window light, avoid spaces where the photographer’s only good looking option is a window. If your photographer has more experience with flash, then they can use that flash to balance the light on their subjects with the window light behind their subjects. Not every photographer is good at this though and not every photographer carries flashes powerful enough to achieve this look.
What Kind of Light Are You Typically Looking For?
Every photographer is different. So while we can’t recommend one type of light that you need for great photos, we can say that typically your photographer is looking for either great window light or soft, indoor artificial lighting. It’s rare that photographers want to mix the two for indoor photos, unless the lights inside are daylight temperature (at most venues they are not). We prefer window light, but when that isn’t an option, finding soft indoor light and then using an external flash can give us a similar look to window light. Check with your photographer to see what kind of light they prefer to work with for indoor portraits.
Preparing the Space for the Photographer
One way you can help facilitate better portraits is to prepare the space for the photographer. Since you already asked whether they prefer window light or artificial light, you can make sure the room either has the lights inside turned on or off before they arrive. A lot of the time a photographer will want the lights inside to be shut off so they don’t have to worry about editing out an orange glow (from tungsten bulbs) or a blue glow (from window light) out of their photos. If you know what they prefer ahead of time, you can ask your planner or venue coordinator to turn the lights off or on before you begin taking photos. Some photographers will be proactive and reach out to the venue coordinator or planner ahead of time, but you can’t always count on that.
You can also take the time during your rehearsal or the morning of your wedding to clean up the area where you’re going to do your indoor portraits. Or better yet, ask the venue or a friend or family member if they can make sure the space is tidied up. Most of the time the areas where you and your guests will be on a wedding day will be clean. If for some reason the area with the best light is a storage room or other unused space, then there might be clutter in the area. Instead of clearing it up when you could be taking portraits, make sure someone cleans it ahead of time so it already looks nice.
This is one of our favorite places to shoot in downtown Indianapolis. The Indiana Statehouse has skylights on the top level that let in a lot of soft, natural light. This means you can take gorgeous photos inside. The Indiana Statehouse is also just absolutely gorgeous. Everywhere you turn there’s a beautiful background.
The library is a gorgeous location. If you love the written word, or just love the aesthetic of a bunch of books on shelves, then this is the place for you. There are rooms with soft, tungsten light and barely any windows if you want that warm, indoor, night time look. There are areas with walls that are glass if you want beautiful, natural light. This is one of our favorite locations in downtown Indianapolis for portraits.
These photos are from Kevin and Kelsey’s engagement shoot.
This might not seem like a great location for indoor photography, because when you think about the zoo you think about seeing animals outside. However, there are a lot of indoor locations at the zoo. First up the butterfly garden is great. It’s got a lot of beautiful plants and lots of natural light. It’s gorgeous. Also, the water animal area, the dolphin house and the desert area are all possible places too.
These photos are from Kristin and Ben’s engagement shoot.
1899 has a lot of gorgeous window light. It also has a nice wide open space where you could shoot larger groups. It’s a very bright location that gives photos there a more light and airy sort of look most of the time. If you’re looking for something a little more moody, you might want to bring some backdrops or curtains to block off some of the window light. It’s beautiful for weddings, engagements, and styled shoots.
These photos are from a styled shoot we did creating a modern baroque look.
The Indiana State Museum has lots of window light, but unfortunately it’s almost all facing the north. This means that the sun doesn’t ever shine through the majority of its windows. So, this is a great area for people that definitely want moody photos. If you find yourself there but want photos that are a bit brighter, then head up to their walkway over the canal. With windows on both the north and south side of the walkway, it ensures that you can have beautiful, bright photos with lots of light.
The Mavris has a gorgeous industrial look. It also has three different floors with lots of window light on each floor. Most of the windows are on the south side of the building and the west side of the building, so you can get great window light no matter what time of year you’re shooting. Plus, with their gorgeous windows facing westward and no tall buildings to the west, it means you can do sunset photos inside.
These photos are from Lily and Zack’s wedding.
We can’t get over the lovely brick walls in this building. Plus, the top level sometimes has a bit of haze that looks absolutely gorgeous when the sun is setting. The sun catches the haze and gives striking lines of light through the area.
This venue is relatively new to us, but last winter we shot two weddings here and just adored the window light in this building. Plus, there was a lot of space at both weddings to move around and shoot larger bridal parties and family portraits inside. It was great.
This is another great looking industrial venue. The top floor has lots of room with windows that you can use while you shoot. The bottom floor has a few spaces with nice window light as well and also some garage doors that you can open in the back. Plus the have a gorgeous old elevator with window light that looks great in photos.
Provider (or Tinker House Events), or your favorite local coffee shop
Providers always has something unique and interesting happening at it. It’s also managed by the people that run Tinker House Events which is a gorgeous place to do indoor photos. Tinker House Events has gorgeous wood features and lots of interesting lighting elements. We could spend hours shooting inside that space. But, back to coffee, we love doing portraits of our couples drinking coffee and snuggling up together. Plus, Providers has a lot of interesting glassware for their special coffee drinks which can add interesting element to portraits. They also have a lot of succulents, and we love plants.
Red Key Tavern, or your favorite local bar
We had a bride and groom ask to stop at Red Key Tavern on their way from their ceremony to their reception. While there isn’t great window light in this bar, there is a tremendous ambience. There are model planes and other antiques throughout the bar that make it feel like you’re stepping back in time when you enter. But, really, any bar or tavern that’s special to your and your significant other will work. We firmly believe that if you love the location, then you’ll love the photos more.
St. Joseph Brewery, or your favorite local brewery or winery
St. Joseph Brewery is an old church building that was turned into a brewery. It’s the closest you’ll ever get to beer church, which is something we just made up while writing this sentence but which sounds undeniably great to us now that we’ve thought of it. There are a lot of other breweries in Indianapolis that might be open to having photos done inside. This is just one of our favorite breweries because it seems that whenever we go they have professional soccer on the television and great food and beer.
AirBNB a cool apartment or house with lots of window light
So many of our clients hop on AirBNB to rent a place to get ready. When you do that, make sure you pick out a beautiful place with lots of room for portraits. There are so many amazing places all throughout Indy that you can rent for a day. Try finding one that really connects with you.
What do you think are the best locations for indoor photos in Indy?
Have you gotten engaged or married recently? Did you do indoor photos? Let us know in the comments below where you did your photos!