The Best Photo Spots on Central Campus

Where To Take Photos as an Incoming First-year, Current Student, and Graduating Senior

By Bailey Burke April 18, 2023
The Best Photo Spots on Central Campus

After I got into Michigan, I came for a campus tour. As I explored my new home for the next four years, my mom snapped a few photos of me. While I didn’t think much of it at the time, I am so glad to have these early photos to look back on. As I prepare for my graduation in just a couple of weeks, I’m struck by the importance of photography in documenting one’s time in college. As a humanities student, I have spent countless hours on Central Campus, from late nights in the Hatcher stacks to early morning walks through the Law Quad and warm sunny days on the Diag.

Reflecting on the significance of place (which, just so happens, was the topic of my first-year writing seminar, but I digress), I realized that I wish that I had taken more photos around campus during my time here. The University of Michigan is beautiful during the snowy days of winter and the humid days of late summer and every season in between. As my final days as an undergraduate student approach, I find myself longing to memorialize the areas around campus that have been meaningful to me during my time here. Every place holds a cascade of different memories. In this post, I’m going to recommend some spots around Central Campus to take photos, with the hope that you, too, will document your time here.

One suggestion that I have is that if you are an incoming student or an underclassman, definitely go to these spots and take photos now. Then, when you’re graduating, you can go back and recreate your photos. If you’re a junior or senior, perhaps reflect on which spots around campus have been the most meaningful for you. But no matter where you’re at in your college journey, a photo shoot is a great way to get to know or to rediscover campus!

To start with a rather obvious one, take a picture outside of your residence hall when you move in/out your first year. Then, as an upperclassman, revisit your old stomping grounds and recreate the photo! I’m part of the Residential College, and I lived in East Quad my first year.

Here is me on a campus visit in April 2019:

Standing next to East Quad Residential College sign
East Quad Residential College

Here is me in April 2023, preparing to graduate:

Standing in front of East Quad Residential College sign
East Quad Residential College

Another popular spot I went to after my campus visit was the painted Michigan butterfly wings (by @kelseymontagueart), located on the corner of Maynard and East William Street. Here’s me in 2019:

posing in the Michigan butterfly wings
Michigan Butterfly Wings

And here’s me today:

posing in the Michigan butterfly wings
Michigan Butterfly Wings

There’s also a spot right next to the wings for graduates:

posing with painting of cap thrown in air
For Graduates

There are many other stunning murals around Ann Arbor that are also great for photos, like this one near the corner of Liberty and State Street:

posing next to mural on corner of Liberty and State Street
Mural on Corner of Liberty and State Street

Across the road from this mural is the State Theatre, which is another unique photo spot. Definitely see a movie there at some point during your time in Ann Arbor!

State Theater sign
State Theatre

Another great spot is the Cube! Located right next to the Union, the Cube is a must-see for new students and alumni alike.

Posing next to the Cube
The Cube

One spot right on central that I’ve walked through countless times is the Engineering Arch! Though West Hall no longer houses the engineering department, the campus lore surrounding it lives on.

The Engineering Arch
Engineering Arch

Then, of course, you can snap a photo on the Diag. Just make sure you don’t step on the block M!

Bailey on the Drag
The Diag and Block M

Just across the way from the Diag is Ingalls Mall, where you can take a picture in front of Burton Memorial Tower (which, fun fact, still houses music classes today!).

Burton Memorial Tower
Burton Memorial Tower

Lastly, a campus photoshoot isn’t complete without a few photos in the Law Quadrangle. The Law Quad is one of my favorite places for a morning stroll. Its gorgeous architecture never gets old! A walk past the law library always reminds me how incredible it is that I get to call this place — the University of Michigan — home.

Law Quad
The Law Quad

The Law Quad is the ideal spot for senior photos as well!

Law Quad
The Law Quad


Bailey in Law Quad wearing cap and gown
The Law Quad

These are just a few of the places around campus that have been most meaningful for me. Some other great spots in Ann Arbor for photos include:

  • The Argo Cascades 
  • North Campus
  • The Nichols Arboretum 
  • The Big House
  • Outside cute local shops, like Literati Bookstore

As a note, you don’t need a professional photographer to capture great photos. With some basic tools like Adobe Lightroom (which is free for Michigan students), you can turn any phone photo into a nice keepsake! Also note that Michigan has cameras that can be rented out, but they are limited and may require an orientation beforehand (so plan ahead!).

I hope that, whether incoming student, graduating senior, or anything after or between, you document your time here in Ann Arbor. College goes by so fast, but this community and the memories made here will last a lifetime. 

Finally, a quick shoutout to my friend, Lizzy Haag (LSA ‘24) for helping me with the campus photoshoot! 

Bailey Burke
Bailey Burke

Bailey Burke is a senior in the College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts, pursuing majors in history and creative writing & literature, with a minor in Spanish. She is from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Bailey is in the Residential College, where she founded RC Letters Forum. She is also involved in campus ministry with St. Mary Student Parish and the Kateri Institute for Catholic Studies. She studied abroad in winter 2022 in Dublin, Ireland, and is hoping to travel after she graduates. In her free time, you can find Bailey reading, writing letters, and drinking tea.