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!

outfit #1

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.

black and white image of a senior girl looking away from the camera and smiling while wearing a black top and gray jacket with a fur collar. She's in the Strip District area of Pittsburgh. There are large, industrial tires in the background.

image of a senior girl walking along an industrial alley in Pittsburgh's Strip District. She has long dark hair and is wearing beige plaid pants and a beige jacket with a fur collar.

images of a senior girl walking around an industrial alley in Pittsburgh's Strip District. She's wearing beige plaid pants and a beige jacket with fur accents. There are large industrial tires and tall grasses in the background as well as a dusting of snow.

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.

outfit #2

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.

image of a senior girl wearing a short blue silk dress, black leather jacket and black boots. She's standing in front of stacked industrial tires along an alley in Pittsburgh's Strip District. She's smiling and looking away with her eyes closed.

images of a senior girl who is standing in the alley of an industrial area in Pittsburgh's Strip District. She wears a blue silk dress and a black leather jacket. There is a slight dusting of snow on the ground behind her.

image of a senior girl standing in the street with a large train trestle overhead. She's wearing a black leather jacket and has her arms crossed but with a big smile.

image of a senior girl standing in the middle of the street in the Strip District neighborhood of Pittsburgh. There is a large train trestle running overhead along the street. She's wearing a blue silk dress, a black leather jacket and black boots.

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!

images of a senior girl in an alley near Pittsburgh's Strip District. She's wearing a black leather jacket over a blue silk dress and boots with black legwarmers. There is graffiti on the warehouse walls behind her.

outfit #3

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.

image of a senior girl standing in an empty alley with a stretch of tall grasses off to the left side. There's a row of warehouses in the distance. She's wearing a long deep red and black skirt and a black leather jacket.

images of a senior girl along the sidewalk in the Strip District of Pittsburgh. She's wearing a black leather jacket over a white top with a black and red skirt.

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.

image of a senior girl standing on the back side of the Terminal Building in the Strip District. It's a long building with green posts that stretch off into the distance. She's wearing a black leather jacket over a white silk top and a black and red skirt.

black and white image of a senior girl standing along the back walkway of the Terminal Building in Pittsburgh's Strip District. She's wearing a black leather jacket, a long dark skirt, and combat boots.

outfit #4

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!

images of a senior girl sitting on a bench in the shape of red lips at the Terminal Building in the Strip District. She's wearing green cargo pants, a black leather jacket and a brown newsboy hat.

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.

images of a senior girl sitting on colorful steps at the Terminal Building in the Strip District. There's a mural behind her with a big purple road. She's wearing green cargo pants, a leather jacket and a newsboy hat.

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.

image of a senior girl with bright white lights behind her. She's at the Terminal Building in Pittsburgh's Strip District.

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).

Now Booking

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.

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Hi there, it's Jodi!

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portrait photographer for the Pittsburgh area including:

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