Street Photography in Pittsburgh


I had a great time in Pittsburgh this past weekend. I decided to go on a whim as staying in the Charleston, WV area didn’t really appeal to me, and Pittsburgh is actually slightly closer to our work area than Charlotte is. It was a very good decision. Pittsburgh is full of character, for one. It has the old factory-city rustbelt flavor that I miss about Buffalo, New York, but is also vibrant and bustling. The weather had been forecast to rain but for all of Saturday and leaving Monday there was plenty of sun, giving a complex lighting environment as I weaved in and out of the shadows of skyscrapers and steel bridges.

A Very Tall Building: Shot in Classic Chrome @ f/10 using Fujifilm 23mm f/2

And while not especially crowded downtown there was plenty of action for the “urban anthropologist” to work with! People of all shades and sizes going about living. As usual, I had to work up the energy to get out and shoot, even though I love street photography and it’s just good for me to be out creating art. Something sluggish in me resents leaving my dwelling any earlier than noon. But hey, that’s the weekend life…

Street Photography + A Surprise Proposal Photoshoot!
Putting in the Street Signs: Fuji 50mm f/2

I walked to downtown, passing Polish churches, Mexican restaurants, Asian style gardens and American infrastructure. Two-story apartment complexes sandwiched together in colorful slices of living space on hilly slopes lined with train tracks reminded me of San Francisco and Istanbul. The city’s design is strongly inflenced by its location at the conflux of three rivers, the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela.

Phillip Murray Bridge across the Monongahela – Fujifilm X-T2 + 23mm f/2

Street portraiture was the order of the day and as you can see I managed to collect quite a few! People were very willing to work with me and I probably handed out a good dozen business cards. I did get a few “no’s” but nothing overly aggressive. I worked on chatting up my potential portrait subjects as well, rather than launching right into asking for a picture.


Jared & Claire, the highly photogenic couple: Fujifilm X-T2 + 35mm f/1.4

Walking around Point State Park, I noticed a couple taking selfies with their cellphone. Something vibed so I offered to do some portraits for them – they were an attractive couple and I knew I’d make some good art doing so. They agreed and we did some nice poses with no direction needed from me. After I thanked them and started to wrap up my gear, Jared asked if I’d take a few more. Pleased by their enthusiasm, I agreed and broke out my trusty 35mm f/1.4, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite lenses.

And then he got down on one knee…

See title above. Oh wow, this just got real! Fortunately, I had just the right lens for the job. I quickly switched over to Burst Mode and for once the autofocus didn’t fail me by deciding the mountains or clouds were more interesting. I got plenty of intimate photos as Claire was completely overwhelmed by emotion. People even started clapping; it was such an intimate, beautiful moment for everyone.

I think this one’s my favorite. Claire is still overwhelmed and Jared looks so cheeky about surprising her like that!

Jared told me after he’d been waiting for just the right moment and when I said I was a photographer looking to shoot them he knew it was divine providence. And who am I to argue? This is fantastic material for the portfolio. Isn’t street photography wonderful?

Editing these files was so much fun. I kept tearing up a little bit; for one because the moment was so delightful also because they turned out so beautifully. The focus was spot-on and while the exposure was a bit hot at times with the clouds and underexposed in others, there was very little trouble (yay, Fuji ISO-less sensor!) I’m constantly surprised by just how nice the 35mm f1/4 is. I think if I had to use a single lens forever it’d probably be this one. It’s just wide enough for some environment and just tight enough to get good portraits! This was some of my best “street photography” ever!

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2 comments

  1. You got some absolutely beautiful shots and I’m SO glad Jared decided that that was the right time. Perfect moment, perfect timing. Absolutely awesome. ❤

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