I would venture to guess UNL’s East Campus is one of the top places in Lincoln, NE to make portraits of people. That and Pioneers Park. I’m not really sure why everyone goes there. Maybe because it’s centralized and easy to get to? Either way, visit campus on a beautiful fall day, and you’ll see dozens of photographers out.
For whatever reason, most photographers are attracted to the Maxwell Arboretum for their portraits sessions, so you have to get creative to not get other people in the backgrounds of your shots. In my humble opinion, I do sort of believe the Arboretum is overused. Same with the Porch. I’ve obviously used these locations myself, but in the four plus years I’ve lived and worked on campus, I can tell you that there are BETTER locations. Places off the beaten track, into the heart of campus. So, here I am to share some of my favorite, secret locations. Be brave. Explore the campus for yourself!
(If you click the link below the map, it goes to the actual map in Google and lists the locations in the same order as below.)
View UNL East Campus Portrait Locations in a larger map.
Between Miller Hall and the service entrance to the Nebraska East Union, there is an adorable brick pathway lined with the red brick of Miller hall and green bushes and plants. I am absolutely smitten with this location. Super quaint and gorgeous light!
Didn’t know East Campus had a prairie? This prairie is burned multiple times a year for research purposes (at least that’s what I was told!), but when the grass is golden yellow, there isn’t a better spot for wide open images.
As we already discussed, this is the most popular place for picture-taking on East Campus. It include the famous “bridge” and lots of shaded areas. It’s also home to a super cute vine-covered archway. Swoon.
Very commonly used, and very recognizable.
This is a nice expanse of open, manicured lawn. It pretty much has a gorgeous backdrop no matter which direction you’re facing, so it can be used for both morning and evening sessions.
Okay, so the title of the location is lame, but this is an extremely wide sidewalk on the north side of the student union that’s covered with trees. Perfect for sunny days when you need some shade.
Water Sciences Parking Lot
This parking lot is SO gorgeous when empty in the evenings. The Water Sciences building is a beautiful, light cream color, so not only can you use it as a natural reflector, it also makes a great backdrop. I’ve been noticing that you have to wait until the sun is pretty low (in the evening…haven’t looked in the mornings) to get the front of the building completely in shade, but the side of the building works well also! The image below is actually the side of the building.
Tree Lined Sidewalk
This is a great sidewalk lined with just enough trees to make it interesting and hide distracting elements (like Holdrege St).
These are pretty terraces that would be a great location for a family session or any other type of portrait session where you want to have the subjects sitting or laying.
Bridge with Trees
This location is most beautiful in the fall. The trees cover the road in a beautiful mess of colors. Disclaimer: try this location on a day where there is not a lot of traffic (aka NOT during the week).
If you want it to look like you’re (kinda) in the country, try this sidewalk near the Dairy Store.
Small Overgrown Path
This path leads from the Nebraska East Union parking lot to the major sidewalk that runs east/west through campus. It’s overgrown with small trees (aka little leaves) and is super pretty. Also, in the fall, the leaves turn an amazing red color.
This building has a really cool textured wall that’s perfect for posing people against unique backgrounds.
If you’re planning on having a portrait session on East Campus (whether you’re a photographer or the one being photographed), I strongly urge you to take a trip to campus before your session just to explore all of the possibilities. East Campus has so much more to offer than just the Arboretum. The entire campus is ridiculously beautiful. But remember to visit around the same time of day that the session will be, so that you know exactly how the light will look (what’s in shade, what’s not, etc). If you end up using some of these locations, I would absolutely LOVE to see the images, so send me a link!
Good luck! Happy Sunday!