5 Best Photo Opportunities in Cincinnati

Photo Opportunities Cincinnati

Lee Van Grack

If you're keen on travel photography and are looking for interesting photo opportunities, Cincinnati, Ohio is the place to visit. The city has all the usual amusement parks, zoos and museums, each with picture-perfect photo ops. But for an authentic "Queen City" experience, grab your camera, track down the locations listed below and click away.

1. The Romantic Photo: The Ohio River

Hold hands and profess your love to your partner while drifting along Cincinnati's scenic section of the Ohio River. Stand on a deck bathed in moonlight or surrounded by elegant Victorian decor below -- pick whichever will give you the best photo ops.

Cincinnati riverboats are run by BB Riverboats and Queen City Riverboats. Both companies offer scheduled cruises and private charters for parties and wedding receptions, as well as shuttles to the Reds and Bengals games. Boats leave from the Kentucky side of the river, with cruises starting at $15 for an adult and $9 for children.

If you prefer to take your romantic photos on a boat that never leaves the dock, reserve a seat on the Showboat Majestic. This National Historic Landmark is the nation's only surviving floating theater. The Showboat Majestic is docked at Cincinnati's Public Landing, within walking distance from downtown. Tickets are $17 for adults. Check the website for tickets or information on scheduled performances.

2. The Quirky Photo: Big Pig Gig Pigs

Turn a corner in Cincinnati, walk into a lobby and you may find yourself face to face with a pig in a tutu or baseball uniform. It's okay to have a good laugh, but pull out your camera, too. You can take your best funny photo ever with the quirky pigs from the Big Pig Gig. 2010 marks the tenth anniversary of this Artworks public project, which called on organizations and local artists like Jim Borgman to decorate 400 fiberglass pigs for charity. The project has proved great for visitors seeking quirky photo opportunities.

Cincinnati's Big Pig Gig pigs are mostly long gone, transported to homes across the country, but some remain in sites scattered around Cincinnati. They can provide a few laughs, outlandish photo ops and a few free memories of your visit to the city once called "Porkopolis." Most of these in-town pigs are within walking distance of downtown, but visit during daylight hours for safest access and best lighting. Here are a few of the best:

"Swine Lake" -- Porcine ballerinas named Odile, Odette, Hoofanova, Porkisyka and Swine-Hilda pose in a perpetual pirouette at the Cincinnati Ballet offices, on Central Parkway near Liberty Street. It's a walkable distance but in an edgy part of downtown, so you might want to drive.

"The LiBOARy Pig" -- Meet this book-toting piggy in the garden outside the children's section of Cincinnati's public library. Walk north on Vine to 8th Street and you'll see the LiBOARy Pig through the wrought-iron fence. For a close-up photo, enter the 8th Street door and exit through the children's library to the garden.

"Don Pigiovanni" -- Find the Don in the lobby of the elegant Cincinnatian Hotel on 6th and Vine Streets.

"Dual Porcineality" -- Jim Borgman's contribution to the Gig illustrates the city's East Side-West Side divide. He's located in the Cincinnati Enquirer Building lobby at 312 Elm Street.

"J. Karp Hogtioneer" -- The auctioneer piggy is located at Main Auction Galleries on 4th Street.

3. The Family Fun Photo: Sawyer Point Park/Yeatman's Cove

"Something's always happening on the river" is the chorus from an old river song, and at Yeatman's Cove/Sawyer Point Park it's true. A roller-skating rink, tennis courts, steamboat theater, kid's play area and a nationally known rib restaurant make this scenic riverside park the spot in Cincinnati with the best photo ops.

You can watch Ohio River traffic from the curvy Serpentine Wall or walk to the very edge of the water. For a slightly daring river walk, cross the Purple People Bridge to Kentucky or stand in the middle to capture shots of boats and barges gliding through the water below. Children don't care that the massive Cincinnatus statue offers a lesson in Roman and local history; they just want their pictures taken with the big guy. DonÕt miss this opportunity for a Cincinnati family photo.

The park hosts Riverfest with Rozzi's famed Labor Day fireworks, the Regional Black Family Reunion and Tall Stacks, a biannual celebration that brings the nation's finest steamboats to the banks of the Ohio River. See the Cincinnati tourism website for event information.

4. The Scenic Photo: Carew Tower Observation Deck

Another of the best photo ops in Cincinnati is Carew Tower on Vine Street. The tower has been the tallest building in Cincinnati for over 70 years, long enough for most locals to forget about the fabulous view at the top. At 574 feet, the building has housed offices, shops, cafŽs, galleries and a luxury hotel. That's a lot of coming and going, yet the Observatory remains one of the city's hidden treasures. When you go, it's possible you will have it all to yourself.

The Carew Tower observation deck on the 46th floor has a simple open concrete-and-brick layout, with none of the art deco details found on the building's lower levels. There are no protective bars to mar your photographs, just a brick perimeter wall slightly taller than waist height. On a clear day the observation deck offers a scenic, top-of-the-city photography landscape, a perfect opportunity to photograph the Cincinnati Bengals or Reds stadiums, the Ohio River or the Cincinnati and Kentucky hills and beyond. For an enhanced view, try the old-fashioned binoculars.

To get to the observation deck you'll have to take an elevator to the 46th floor, exit and turn a few corners, then board the much smaller elevator to the 48th floor. Climb the narrow staircase to the top and enter the observation deck through the tiny gift shop. The observation deck hours are Monday to Thursday 9AM-5:30PM, Friday 9AM-6PM, Saturday and Sunday 10AM-7PM. Admission is $2 for adults, $1 for children; for more information, call 513-241-3888.

5. The Classic Photo: The Tyler Davidson Fountain

If you've ever caught the opening scenes from the '80s TV sitcom, "WKRP in Cincinnati," then you know "The Genius of Water." She sits high atop the Tyler Davidson Fountain, above the plaque that reads, "To the People of Cincinnati." For decades the fountain has drawn people to Fountain Square a prime downtown venue for brown-bag lunches, friendly meet-ups, holiday celebrations and scenic Cincinnati photos.

On Fountain Day in April, the waters are turned on once again after the long, cold winter, followed by Reds' Opening Day festivities a few days later. Spring and summer mean fun family events and music: Thursdays is salsa, Fridays is indie music, Saturdays is family movies, and Sundays is jazz. A host of Fountain Square-centered festivities mean the chance to get some of Cincinnati's best photo ops, including ice skating, winter fireworks and Santa rappelling down the Macy's building each Saturday night in December.

The fountain stands at the center of it all, with the water sparkling in daylight hours and shimmering golden with reflected light after dark. Day or night, the fountain presents the perfect backdrop for your Cincinnati travel photography album. And it is free!
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