Where to go for Fall Family Pictures in Pittsburgh

Fun family photography in Pittsburgh

Fall in Pittsburgh has felt more like the continuation of summer this year. It isn’t bad! Just a bit…unusual. Even so, that doesn’t stop us and the rest of the internet and the city from being fall obsessed. Pumpkin anything? Yes. Flannel? You bet.

Those sound like great things to add into a fall photo shoot, so we give you The Definitive Guide to Fall Photo Shoot Locations*.

*This is by no means exhaustive! We didn’t include apple picking or pumpkin patch visiting, though both are very fall and very family-friendly. There are tons of beautiful places in Pittsburgh to take photos during this or any other season. Sometimes the best place is in your own home.

Our goal with this list is to share some of our favorite and our families’ favorite locations for Our Everyday photos. You can’t predict the weather on the day of your shoot, but we like to have a few contingency plans in place. If you’re wondering how we handle unexpected weather changes, especially since the weather in Pittsburgh could change on a dime, we wrote a helpful guide.

The Zoo

Did you know that the zoo is open all year round? It makes sense because the animals are there all the time, though we didn’t realize that humans could be! That is until a family selected it for their Our Everyday location last winter. It is a regular family outing for them and they wanted to preserve that memory for their daughter as she grew up. We strapped on some gloves and headed out.

Meet Marilyn, Chris & Adelaide, AKA the most adorable thing in the Pittsburgh Zoo during their Our Everyday photo shoot with Porter Loves Photography.

Pick a Park, Any Park

Pittsburgh is rife with parks. It’s lucky for you and it’s lucky for us. Parks this time of year have beautiful foliage with all of the deciduous trees that line the grass with their autumnal colors. We love Frick Blue Slide Park, Schenley Park, and the Frick Park hiking trails, but we aren’t exclusive with them. Our love of parks is definitely not monogamous; it’s the perfect place to let kids run around and be kids, which is everyone’s favorite part of Our Everyday photo shoots.

You can bring a blanket like Marco, Jessica, and Joe did. Their is white, but plaid would complement the fall feeling nicely!

You can roll around in the grass like Magda, Henry, and Diane chose to do in Frick Park. Can you say leaf piles?

Did we mention that parks let kids open up and have fun? Look at how Callen and Ryen’s personalities shine through in this beautiful park shoot in Ambridge.

Parks are also great to capture family bike rides, basketball games, and whatever other activities you love to do in the fall.

child photography in pittsburgh

Fun family photography in Pittsburgh

Anything with the Pittsburgh Skyline

One of us is native to Pittsburgh and the other is a transplant, but we both equally love the view of downtown Pittsburgh. We’re pretty sure most other Pittsburghers would agree with us! There’s the late-season sun warming the buildings, more trees turning beautiful colors no matter which shore you’re standing on, and so many places to capture that iconic skyline and your family’s love of the Burgh.

A few of our favorite skyline-spotting locations for photo sessions are:

  • Point State Park – a classic Pittsburgh locale
  • Mt. Washington Overlook – a classic Pittsburgh shot
  • The Incline – our yinzer is showing
  • The Mr. Rogers Statue on the North Shore – a beloved character and a beloved city together at last
  • The Riverfront Trail by the David L. Lawrence Convention Center – if you walk under the 10th Street Bypass where it crosses with the entrance to the Convention Center, you’ll be treated to a unique view of the city

BikePGH and Venture Outdoors are great places to turn for rentals, both bikes and kayaks, for a unique family photoshoot in our beautiful city.

Any Classic or New Favorite Eatery

Pittsburgh is known for food. When the weather gets a bit rainier and outdoor photos may be impractical, our families love to turn to their favorite eateries for an afternoon of fun.

  • Page Dairy Mart, Antney’s, Custard’s, Klavon’s, and Millie’s are all excellent for an ice cream party
  • Pamela’s and Kelly-O’s in the Strip, Square Cafe are great for breakfast – we’d suggest going on a weekday!
  • Your family’s favorite pizza place, even if it’s Pizza Night at home

Whether your family prefers fall festivals and pumpkin picking or snuggling up on the couch and a cozy fire, fall in Pittsburgh is a great time for photos. The weather is great and the rush of the holidays is still a bit away, so you can relax and enjoy this wonderful time.

pittsburgh family portrait photographer

pittsburgh family portrait photographer

Swissvale Fall Family Mini Sessions

Sam and Nathan (that’s us!) live and work in Swissvale, PA. It’s a small, fairly urban suburb just outside the city limits of Pittsburgh. We are very involved in our community working to improve communication between residents and local officials, attracting people to move here and/or open a business here, and generally uplifting the image of Swissvale throughout the region.

We love our neighborhood and our neighbors!

We’re excited to offer a special mini session event in Swissvale!

Swissvale* families are invited to sign up for a fall mini session with Porter Loves Photography, local child and family photographer. Select a 20-minute time slot and receive a minimum of 5 digital images with printing rights for only $75. The opportunity to purchase prints, holiday cards, and more at a discount will also be available. Half of all proceeds from this event will be donated to Angel’s Place Inc. a Swissvale charity supporting children and families.

20-minute time slots will be available on Saturday, November 4 and Sunday, November 12, both 9am-5pm. Both shoot days will take place on the lower playground at Memorial Field.

Sign up now!

*While this event is geared toward the Swissvale community, if residents of surrounding communities are interested in participating, they are more than welcome.

Porter Loves Photography enjoys seeing little people develop big personalities so quickly, and relishes the opportunity to capture how they interact with and learn about the world, creating inspiring images that families will always love. Questions? Send us an email!

How we handle: unexpected weather

Living in Pittsburgh, the topic of weather and how it relates to planning is always a big factor. Even if the forecast says sunny and a high of 75, there’s always the chance for rain, wind, and/or a sudden drop (or increase!) in temperature. The best defense is to have a plan, so here’s how we handle unexpected changes in weather and how you can be more confident on the day of your photo shoot.

Naturally, we’re very flexible when it comes to weather. After all, we work in Pittsburgh! We know unexpected weather conditions can make you and your family uncomfortable, though, and it’ll show in your pictures. Where’s the fun in that? We want your pictures to be memorable, not awkward.

In addition, we prefer not to reschedule. Getting the family together and coordinating everyone’s schedule can be a challenge. Plus, you’re excited on the day of your shoot and we want you to have a really fun time. We’ll do all we can to avoid making your effort be for naught!

Sometimes, all it takes are a few simple steps to getting great photos. But when unexpected weather conditions become an additional unexpected member of your family photos, here are a few ways we can work with it.

Heat and/or Humidity

Depending on the location you choose for your shoot, we’ll spend lots of time in the shade. Not only will you be more comfortable, you’ll get better photos as direct sun doesn’t make for the best lighting.

Also, breaks are key. Our sessions are all about having fun and playing, but being out in the heat can make that activity even more exhausting than normal. We noticed that some folks are hesitant to ask for a break because they feel like they should be using the whole time allotted for taking photos. However, comfort is essential to getting great photos! If you’re not comfortable and too hot, it won’t matter if we keep shooting through it; it’s unlikely you’ll be having the best time, which translates into subpar photos. Plus, we want to do the best work for you and taking a break in that heat sounds good to us, too!

When we do break, it’s a great time to rehydrate. We always bring a small cooler with us with water for everyone.

While we don’t want to tell you exactly how to look, we do suggest that you wear breathable, comfortable clothing. Any fabric that wicks away sweat quickly will go a long way to making you feel comfortable on a hot day.

Rain

Any season can be a rainy season, so you have to consider the possibility of rain during the day of your family’s photo session. Most of the time, we can work with it. A drizzle doesn’t phase us at all. Kids really enjoy running around in a light rain, especially if it’s a hot day. It’s a great chance to cool down! Puddles are fun to splash in, too.

During a slightly heavier rainfall, overhangs and park shelters are great. It’ll allow you to be creative and have fun while keeping the water at bay. This also allows you to get creative with umbrellas. You can play with different colored umbrellas and take advantage of some cute poses.

While we don’t like to reschedule, we’ll opt to do so when there’s a pouring rain if there isn’t an indoor backup location option.

Cold

We didn’t say snow here because there are so many fun things you can do in the snow: sledding, building a snowman, making snow angels, the possibilities are endless! If that makes your heart pitter-patter with excitement, let’s make a date!

We love to take pictures of you and your family bundled up outside with rosy cheeks and noses. Just look at this adorable winter session at the Pittsburgh Zoo with Marilyn, Chris, and Adelaide. These kinds of pictures make for adorable holiday cards and gifts for grandparents.

That said, there’s definitely a difference between snow and outright cold. There’s that old adage that “it’s too cold to snow.” People usually say that when the weather gets really dry and it’s approximately 20 degrees below zero. If it’s too cold to snow, chances are good that it’s too cold to take pictures outside as well. At that point, it’s not fun to be outside for more than a few minutes. We don’t want anyone to get sick. On top of that, camera equipment doesn’t like freezing temperatures, either! When it gets that cold, we must move it inside.

All of the Above

We’ve heard it before and we’ll hear it again: in my day, we walked to school uphill both ways in the heat and humidity with the pouring snow coming down around us. Our older family members were troopers, but they weren’t taking family photos.

Always have a backup location in mind. It can be your house, a museum, an indoor play area. We’re game for anything that suits your family’s interest. There is definitely a dearth of indoor covered places in Pittsburgh that are free, but sometimes the cost of entry is worth everyone being comfortable and ready for fun.

What inspires Nathan, photographer of Porter Loves

When I was a child, my father gave me a camera. It was a manual film camera, not the digital ones I use today, and I was enthralled by figuring it out. I learned every aspect of photography that I could from that camera, then moved on to the next, and so on for many years. I practiced with nature as my subject, though I didn’t discriminate against whom my subjects ended up being.

Eventually, I found that I enjoyed interacting with people rather than nature behind the camera. Whether it’s event photography or taking portraits of families, children, and pets, there’s a unique problem to solve when you work with humans.

I find that I don’t consciously think about the majority of the shots I take. In fact, the shots are much better without actively thinking about them. It’s almost as if muscle memory kicks in and I’m allowed to naturally flow with the subject instead of taking the time to think about what’s happening. When that active thought occurs, there’s a good chance that you lose that connection to the subject and a great moment is gone.

That isn’t to say I don’t pay attention to what’s happening in the shot. I’m always inspired by and drawn to different patterns, colors, and background elements that tell a story. I like to let my subjects move in their own ways without much direction, as that feels most natural and the best photos of them are taken that way. However, if I notice a composition that’s particularly compelling, I’ll suggest different positions for someone to try to enhance the story.

I also take a lot of inspiration from subjects themselves and the spaces they live in. If a kid is all about running around and playing, I want to allow them to use a large space to do just that. On the flip side of that, if a child is more interested in quietly reading with her parents, we will find a comfortable place with great lighting to snap photographs that feature their special bond. Either way, I don’t want my vision to be so strong that it overrides their creativity. I’m just a fly on the wall telling the story.

I’m most inspired from other families’ photos that I see on their Facebook pages or hanging in their homes. In that sense, I can see the compositions they already like, the way that everyone in the photo interacts together, and the colors and patterns they enjoy. I try to continue the thread that’s already there so these new portraits fit with the vision they’ve already started for their family.

There are as many different styles and inspirations in the world as there are photographers. No one person sees the world exactly the same. When it comes time to work with a family, I want their vision and aesthetic to inspire my photos of them. It feels much more authentic when that happens. That’s what I love about photography: you’re able to give the gift of how you see the world to someone else.