Avonworth Senior Session in Oakland and The Cultural District

When you’re passionate about theater, downtown Pittsburgh is the place to plan your senior portrait session!

Hannah seems to have been born to stand out from the crowd.  She has been performing for most of her life through Act One Theater School and Avonworth Drama (you can catch her and my daughter in The Mystery of Edwin Drood later this month).   And when she’s not performing, she’s making the world a better more just place.  A few years ago, she started Cookies for Justice.  It’s a non-profit bakeshop out of her home where she sells cookies and proceeds from the sales go to support various social justice programs both locally and nationally.  She has also collaborated with several of her classmates and teachers to start social justice groups at her school.  These groups have provided a platform for creating more inclusive and diverse spaces in the Avonworth community.

It’s hard to believe that with all of that, she even had time to plan senior portraits but she did!

First Stop: The Columns

She chose The Mellon Institute in Oakland for her first look.  .  We met there on a warm afternoon in the fall.  The trees were just starting to change.  The columns are a favorite spot for all types of portrait sessions and her red dress popped with all of the light-colored stone.

image of a senior girl at Mellon Institute, Pittsburgh. She has dark wavy hair and is wearing a red dress.

image of a senior girl wearing a red dress. She has dark, wavy hair and glasses and she's standing in front of the Mellon columns

image of a senior girl wearing a red dress, sitting on the steps of Mellon Institute, Pittsburgh

black and white image of a senior girl sitting on the steps next to a stone column in Oakland.

Next Stop: Pitt Campus

After our time at the columns, we walked over to Pitt campus for a few more photos.  Pitt is another great location to consider for portraits, especially when you want some variety in your session.  There are the grassy areas around the Cathedral of Learning, the busy streets for urban style, and the gardens around Heinz Chapel.  Each of these spots provides an interesting and unique backdrop for any portrait session.

image of a senior girl standing in a garden of hydrangeas on Pitt campus in Oakland. The flowers are a dusty rose color and come up to her waist. She has dark wavy hair and wears a red dress.

But beware of the very friendly squirrels 🙂

black and white image of a senior girl standing at the bottom of the steps of Heinz Chapel. She's looking down at a squirrel that is watching her.

images of a senior girl on Pitt campus. She has dark hair and is wearing a red dress.

Final Stop: the Cultural District

Hannah really wanted to visit both the columns at Mellon and the area around the Benedum Center for her senior portrait session.  Planning to locations is possible but it does require a plan and some flexibility.  For this senior session, the limiting factors were traffic and time.  And fortunately, Hannah was flexible with her time and traffic wasn’t too bad.

So we left Oakland and met up at the Theater Square Garage for a quick outfit change.  I bring a changing tent for all of my senior sessions.  It’s so much easier to have that with us and not have to worry about trying to find an open restroom.  Within a few minutes, she was dressed in outfit #2 and we were out on the street again.

images of a senior girl on Penn Ave. Pittsburgh. She has dark wavy hair and glasses and is wearing a black blouse and animal print pants

We also had time to include Marlow. Mom met up with us and their dog, Marlow.  Even better, Marlow was willing to pose a little too!  I love when my seniors like to include their pups!

image of a senior girl with her dog. They're standing on Penn Ave in downtown Pittsburgh.images of a senior girl with her dog. She's kneeling next to him on a sidewalk in downtown Pittsburgh

One More Outfit

Hannah chose to plan 3 outfits for her session.  For all of my senior sessions, I encourage my seniors to plan for at least 2 outfits for a variety of reasons.  I think it’s just a good opportunity to have some variety in your images.  Picking one formal and one casual outfit.  One outfit the senior loves and one the mom loves.  I just like having options.  Another reason for an outfit change is to also help seniors to relax.  When we move around we relax.   We get out of our heads a bit because our brains are busy with… moving.  The outfit is another action, another way to break up the session.  It definitely works.  Even something as simple as adding a jacket.  So plan for 2 or more outfits when you have your next session.

Hannah’s third outfit was casual and an outfit that was truly her.  She chose jeans and added a Black Lives Matter tee with a jacket that she crocheted herself!!  Yes, in addition to school, performing, and social justice…

she crocheted a jacket!! 

The girl is a rockstar!

images of a senior girl standing on a downtown Pittsburgh street. She has dark wavy hair and glasses and she's wearing a black lives matter shirt.

Anyone who works with me will learn that my favorite phrase is “one more.”  Even with the light fading, I kept trying to capture one more but one of my new favorite things to do is capture lights in the background- headlights, traffic lights, twinkle lights -I just love the look of it.  It was so hard to wrap up.

Hannah, it was wonderful to be able to document this milestone for you.  You’re an amazing person and going to do amazing things!  Keep persisting.

And if you are finishing up your senior or junior year, let’s talk about planning your senior portraits!

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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.

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portrait photographer for the Pittsburgh area including:

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