Pittsburgh is one of the most beautiful cities out there with tons of history and character. That statement right there shouldn’t be taken with a grain of salt considering I live here, and if you’re a photographer you know how easy it is to under-appreciate the places we are most familiar with. Having photographed many beautiful cities, each with it’s own advantage, I’d have to say Pittsburgh has a slight advantage over most of them due to the fact that it excels in many areas as opposed to just a few.
For instance, Hartford Connecticut easily excels in the architecture photography department. New York City is a street photographers playground. Los Angles and Santa Barbara are great lifestyle photography spots. Boston is probably my favorite city to photograph (yes, even ahead of Pittsburgh). The best way I know how to describe Boston is as if someone took all the best things of Pittsburgh and New York City and combined them. I could continue but you get the point, each city typically has it’s own strengths when it comes to photography. For this article, I wanted to share some of my favorite Pittsburgh photography locations with you.
First, the Liberty bridge is one of my absolute favorite spots in Pittsburgh to photograph from. It’s kind of a two-in-one scenario as it looks great from either end. Location isn’t everything though… Make sure you show up when the weather is right or you’ll end up with a bland sky that all the post processing in the world can’t save. Timing is everything.
*Look, I understand how easy it is to replace a bland sky with a beautiful sky these days. Don’t do that. It’s fake and eventually someone will find out. The value of your work, and more importantly your reputation, will suffer.
My second favorite spot is really an area of the city that is full of fantastic spots (bonus for you). The Cultural District, which really mostly encompasses the area between Penn Avenue and Liberty Avenue in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, is full of potential photography areas. Whether you like to practice street photography, urban landscape, architecture, or anything in between, there is something for you in the Cultural District.
Finally, one of my favorite and places to shoot from is probably one of the least photographed perspectives of the city. The spot is a little tough to find but you’ll likely be the only person there. You can access it off of Bedford Ave. right between the Boy Scouts of America building and Penn States Satellite building. Park on the street, not their parking lots, and walk across the Penn State parking lot. At the end of the lot there is a wash that leads down to an old cement walkway that goes along the top of Bigelow Blvd.. Keep your eye out for No Trespassing signs, if you see them then I don’t suggest proceeding. When I went there was nothing of the sort but I could not tell if the land was public or private (always be respectful of people’s property).
*It should go without saying (but rarely does when a sentence starts that way) that you should always be aware of your surroundings. Anytime you venture into more secluded areas in the city with your camera gear you can potentially make yourself a target for criminals. I recommend shooting with someone in this location out of an abundance of caution.
Truth be told, Pittsburgh is chalk full of great photography spots. I cold easily write a top 10 article (maybe next time) if time allowed. Notably missing is a shot from the North Shore looking back at the city with the bridges in it. To be honest, its a view that has been done so many times it makes me roll my eyes when I see it. Mt. Washington is a beautiful view of the city as well, but again, it’s been beaten to death. I recommend leaving the low hanging fruit for others and exploring off of the beaten path to come up with something a little more interesting.
Do you have a favorite spot in Pittsburgh? Feel free to share in the comment section below. You can follow my work on Insta @PhotolisticLife if you’d like. Thanks for reading!
Love your shots, John. It is a great city and I really miss it!
Thank you! Do you have plans to be up this way again soon? Next time you’re in the neighborhood let me know and we can all get together again.
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