Choosing a Great Location for your Senior Portraits

Choosing your senior portrait locations can be challenging but not with a photographer who knows not only great spots all around Pittsburgh, but also knows how to make the best of those locations as well.

First question… urban or rural? 

In this case, by urban, I mean any place with buildings and sidewalks. From downtown Pittsburgh to all the neighborhoods and small towns we find all over southwestern PA.  Squirrel Hill, Oakland, the South Side, Lawrenceville, Sewickley, all of these locations provide interesting buildings, cool alleyways, and views of the many Pittsburgh bridges. 

By rural, I don’t necessarily mean farms and cow pastures but rather any place that has more green than concrete. It certainly can be a farm but it can also be North Park, McConnell’s Mills, Schenley Park, Frick Park, or any of the other beautiful spots that Western Pennsylvania is known for.  And we also have a number of little parks that might surprise you with the variety of looks you can find.  What’s even better is that we can find beautiful parks in many parts of Pittsburgh and manage both urban and rural all within a short walk.

But how do you choose? 

After deciding urban or rural (or a bit of both), there are some other things to think about to help you decide. 

You’ll want to consider where you’re most comfortable.  If you’re more introverted or on the shy side and do not enjoy an audience, you’ll want a more rural, park-type setting.  Anytime that you’re downtown or in a neighborhood, you’re going to come across people.  In all of my experiences, everyone has been super nice and excited to see my subjects.  We all remember how fun senior portraits were when we were that age.  And more often than not, it’s usually other photographers that we’ll meet.  While people visit parks too, it’s usually not as many and often we can find a spot that is a bit less “people-y” as my daughter likes to say.

Then you’ll want to consider the time of year.  If you are hoping for fields of wildflowers, you want a summer session.  I can sometimes find honeysuckle or cherry blossoms in the spring but wildflowers are summer.  For fall leaves, the best color can be mid to late October.  For sessions dependent on Mother Nature, you’ll want to be planning ahead with your photographer.

You’ll want to consider your outfits.  This can be a bit trickier to factor because it’s more of a subjective decision.  Part of my planning with my senior clients is discussing their clothing choices and working out together which locations work best with which outfits.  I also ask my senior clients to text or email photos of their outfits so that I can start visualizing locations.  

But the best way to make begin choosing your location for your senior portraits is to see plenty of examples of what’s possible in a variety of locations.

First, some images around the city and then some of my favorite spots in our parks.


Cultural District and Three Rivers Heritage Trail, Pittsburgh (summer)

images showing a urban senior portrait locations.  images show senior girl with her snare drum and wearing a jumper and boots in the Cultural District of downtown Pittsburgh

images of senior guy standing on Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh and sitting on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail

Sewickley, Pennsylvania (summer)

images of senior girl in gray dress on the street and sidewalk of Sewickley, Pennsylvania

South Side, Pittsburgh (summer)

image of a senior guy on the Hot Metal Bridge and sitting on a stone wall on the walking trail in the South Side

Strip District, Pittsburgh (winter)

North Side, Pittsburgh (summer)

images of senior girl in magenta top and jeans in an alley on the North Side of Pittsburgh

West End Overlook, Pittsburgh (fall)

images of senior girl sitting on a stone bench at the West End Overlook

North Park, Wexford (summer)

images of a senior girl in North Park with ever greens and tall grasses

North Park, Wexford (spring)

images of a senior girl in a denim dress next to a honeysuckle bush in North Park

Hartwood Acres (summer)

images of two senior girls on the grounds at Hartwood Acres.  One girl stands in a bush of lavender.  One girl leans against the wooden door of the stone mansion

There are so many other beautiful parks in and around Pittsburgh.  I know I can find the perfect spot for you.

And if you’re bringing your stunning prom dress- that’s definitely a downtown outfit!

image of a senior girl in a form-fitting bright red prom dress on the sidewalk in downtown Pittsburgh

I hope these tips and images gave you some ideas and directions for choosing your senior portrait locations.  To see more images from these sessions and others and their locations, visit my Senior Blog Category page. 

And if you are looking for a photographer to make your vision happen, please reach out.  I’ll be happy to share my senior portrait planning guide that has more images as well as pricing and planning information.

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Hi there, it's Jodi!

I hope you enjoy my work and please let me know if you have any questions about photography, art, or anything at all.

When it comes to portrait photography, there are a lot of options. It's important to me that I help my clients create the session and have the products that are the best fit for their family!

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portrait photographer for the Pittsburgh area including:

Cranberry, Fox Chapel, Mt Lebanon, Sewickley, Upper St Clair, and Wexford