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Pittsburgh’s lively Cultural District contains plenty of memorable photography spots for your engagement picture shoot. Located roughly in the city’s northwest section, it has historic buildings, quiet & secluded corners and a modern vibe that’s defining the Steel City in the 21st century.
To get your photography schedule started off on the right foot, why not try the home of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, the redoubtable Benedum Center? Located at the heart of the Cultural District, this building contains a stunning replica of the Palace of Versailles’s famed Hall of Mirrors. Outside, the structure doesn’t disappoint, especially when it’s well-lit façade and decorative details come to life. Nighttime photography can be a bit tricky with the theater-going crowds; if you don’t mind the hustle and bustle, however, the Benedum Center offers an elegant background for your photos any time of year.
Heinz Hall, named after Pittsburgh’s famous family of the same name, is also not to be missed. Located at 600 Penn Avenue, it’s just a short stroll from the Benedum Center. Be sure to take a couple shots from the corner of Penn and 6th Streets. Your photographer will be able to include more of Pittsburgh’s impressive architectural highlights, with Heinz Center as the centerpiece. Again, early evening works best in this area; crowds tend to overwhelm the entry of this world-class concert hall.
After Heinz Hall, head toward the Allegheny River on 6th Street for a few snapshots at the Byham Theater. Once know as the Gayety Theater, it boasts a glorious past with legendary vaudeville and stage performances. It’ll serve as a great photo background for your engagement pictures. Try some black & white photography for some historical detail, or let loose and show your expressive sides – the Byham encourages a whimsical attitude any time of day! One of Pittsburgh’s oldest continually running theaters, the Byham underwent recent renovations and exemplifies the Steel City’s proud theatrical past. This edge-of-town locale has long been a favorite spot for engagement photography.
Find quiet solitude and natural surroundings at nearby Allegheny Riverfront Park, between the 6th and 7th Street Bridges. This long, narrow slice of grassy area along the Allegheny provides interesting possibilities for your photographer. Gain unique perspective with either of the aforementioned bridges as your background. Better yet, use their wide walkways for great shots above the water. Anywhere in Allegheny Riverfront Park lends endless opportunities for trademark Pittsburgh engagement photography. Facing south, you can capture PNC Park, home to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Facing north, the Steel City’s modern & traditional architecture presents a wealth of depth, texture and color to your snapshots. Early autumn offers especially picturesque detail – Pittsburgh’s rolling, wooded hillsides show bright, blazing tones as the leaves turn color. Make sure to include this park on your engagement picture itinerary.
Head back into the Cultural District along Seventh Street, then turn south along Penn Avenue. Here you’ll find Pittsburgh’s new O’Reilly Theater, designed by highly regarded architect Michael Graves. The theater’s bold block lettering suggests a style similar to the great New York and Hollywood playhouses of the mid-20th century. Glamorous & glitzy photos are easily achieved at the O’Reilly Theater. Penn Avenue’s wide, spacious sidewalks are roomy enough for prime pictures, even during crowded evenings & weekends. Attempt a few black & white snapshots directly in front of the theater. Weekends & evenings fine the O’Reilly Theater bustling with crowds & revelry, especially during the summer and autumn.
For a contemporary take on your memorable moment, don’t overlook the 7th and Penn Parklet. Created by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust to house large & open art exhibitions, this space holds interesting sculpture, artwork, presentations and much more. Centrally located in the Cultural District, it’s a great spot to regroup or relax. The current exhibition is Palazzo Nudo by Alexandr Brodsky. Resembling a house, this structure is nearly 65 feet high and brings outsized scale & scope to your photography session.
A few other Cultural District highlights with album-worthy architecture include a pair of corner art houses, the Wood Street Galleries and SPACE. The former shows visual artists from around the world, while the latter includes contemporary, “technological” exhibitions from local & regional artists. Each building brings a different and exciting vantage point and offers unique perspective of the City of Bridges. You’ll also want to snap a few shots in front of the Harris Theatre, situated at 809 Liberty Avenue. Pittsburgh’s civic leaders consider this a crowning revitalization landmark, as the theater grew out of downtown refurbishment initiatives. You can consider it the perfect way to warp up your Pittsburgh engagement photo shoot. This intimate theater has bright neon lights and a charming retro style that will enhance any picture.
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