Urban Location for a Winter Senior
When the weather turns cold and gray, finding inspiration for a great senior portrait location can be hard. But looking downtown in the Strip District, you can find the perfect blend of urban cool and fun pops of color that any high school senior will love.
With her interest in fashion, the Strip District made perfect sense as the location for this senior session. She had selected four outfits for her session and after looking at images of her outfits (as part of her planning), I suggested two specific but very different areas of Pittsburgh’s Strip District. They were only five minutes apart, so easy to work into the session time.
We decided to begin the portrait session in a more industrial area and then end at the Terminal Building, with its colorful steps and benches and fun lighting!
Location #1: 33rd and Smallman
We started her session at a place known by many local photographers as the tire park. It’s an industrial tire shop located along 33rd Street. This is such a cool location! We have oversized tires, graffiti, tall grasses, and a train trestle overhead! Not to mention plenty of cool warehouses and alleys!
I encourage my seniors to start their sessions in the outfit they feel most comfortable in or are excited about. There’s something about that first outfit that sets the tone for the session. For this senior, she was ready for a model-like experience, and her outfits were perfect! And the jacket with the fur collar also helped keep her warm.
She was clearly comfortable in front of the camera and now it was time to switch outfits. Switching outfits also meant the opportunity for a quick warmup in the car.
For her second outfit, I liked staying in this industrial area as a contrast to her silky blue dress with her leather jacket and boots. As you can see, the blue looked so nice with the blue/blacks of the tires and then the blue shades in the metal of the train trestle that runs the length of the street.
And then we found some graffiti with amazing light! The sun was reflecting off the wall of the warehouse on the opposite side of the alley and made this perfect spotlight! Oh my! I just love finding beautiful moments of light!
Before we headed to the second spot, there were a few more images I wanted to catch in her third outfit. While I like to have a plan for each of my sessions, sometimes I’m inspired in the moment- when an outfit and a location just give me an idea. And fortunately, this senior was happy to go along with my ideas, so we headed back toward the tires but this time, focused on the tall grasses on the other side.
Location #2: The Terminal Building
The Terminal Building on Smallman Street has been a favorite spot of mine almost since I started portrait photography. I’ve always loved the city view from this area. But just as I’ve changed quite a bit over the last ten years, this area has changed quite a bit too. At first, I was not a fan but I have to admit it’s growing on me.
Finally, it was time for the last outfit. After a quick change in my changing tent (and a quick warmup in the car), we headed to the front of the Terminal Building. That is where all the color is!
So, funny story about the hat… I tend to keep random stuff in my car because I never know when they might come in handy on a photo shoot. The hat in these photos was actually my son’s hat when he was a toddler. I’ve always loved the hat, and could never part with it but also didn’t know if I would ever use it. Well, my senior tried it on and loved it! And it does work so well with her outfit! So you never know what I might pull out of my bag of tricks on your portrait session. Also, it’s always a good idea to have a hat or other accessory to throw on.
I have to share one final image. I’ve found myself drawn to lights in the background – whether it’s traffic lights or twinkle lights, I will try to use them in an image. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t but I just love to try and when I saw the lights on the underside of the porch, I knew I had to incorporate them into a shot. What makes this image even more satisfying is that it was also chosen to be featured in Shutter Magazine’s March 2022 issue highlighting senior photography.
I don’t always submit work but I love to be recognized when I do and I’m always thankful when clients trust me to share their images in this way. (And in case you’re wondering, I always discuss with my clients if I’m going to submit an image for publication).
Do you have a class of 2023 senior or a class of 2024 senior? Are you interested in a location like the Strip District for portraits? Now is a great time to start connecting with me to plan your session. Whether it’s spring, summer, fall, or even now, we can work together to find a great outfit and get you some amazing portraits that celebrate this milestone. Visit my Senior page for more details.