Camera Club: Location Scouting for Dog Photography Sessions at Pittsburgh’s Strip District Terminal

Each month, Heather Lahtinen of the Flourish Academy organizes a camera club meetup for local photographers throughout the Pittsburgh area. More recently, however, local wedding photographer Gretchen Ciccone of GCiccone Photography joined Heather in coordinating off-site meetups at different locations to explore throughout the greater Pittsburgh area, including June’s event held at Pittsburgh’s Strip District.

The Lively History of Pittsburgh’s Strip District Terminal

For more than 40 years, the 13-blocks of the Smallman Street served as a cornerstone to Pittsburgh’s commercial narrative with its distinctive architecture of the Strip District Terminal and its key role as a produce distribution hub. First opened in 1929 as the Pennsylvania Railroad Fruit Auction & Sales Building, it earned recognition as one of the city’s most iconic buildings, both in length and design.

Location Scouting with Flourish Academy Friends

Today, this historic building and area of the Strip District has been restored to a vibrant and bustling industrial hub that blends contemporary colors and design with industrial and historic touches in a surprisingly diverse shooting space—‍all within a few streets!

Alongside three of my fellow photographers from the Flourish Academy, a resource for photographers to learn photography, post-processing, marketing, and business, I set off to discover the best dog photography spots in the Strip District with a focus on its Terminal, which spans five blocks along energetic Smallman Street.

Related: Location Fixation: Where Should I Have my Session?

Left, center, and right images by Cherok Photography; bottom and top center images by Gretchen Decker Photography.

Dog Photography Sessions in the Strip District

Perhaps the most outstanding feature of this 160,000-square feet space is its iconic colored stairs, and it was just the spot to borrow this adorable Yorkshire terrier who cooperatively posed for a quick shot like a pro.

And how about that lime couch or those purple chairs with a beautiful peek at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in the distance? I’m already envisioning putting all the dogs on them! Can you imagine your pup here?

Yorkshire terrier poses on colored steps at the Strip District Terminal during a dog photography session
Top left image by Gretchen Decker Photography.

What’s especially great about this spot is that you can get several completely different looks to your final images without having to venture too far. Take, for example, this beautiful husky mix I spotted as I was visualizing how I’d incorporate the leading lines of the storefront brick columns, the docks’ railings, and pretty wine barrel planters overflowing with just the right amount of greenery.

Photographing her on the elevated level of the Terminal docks in the middle of the walkway allowed me to capture exactly what I was aiming for: a hint of color in the planter to accent her orange harness, the repeating columns near the boutique storefronts, and the matte black railings that tied into her fur coloring and markings. Notice what an entirely contracting feel this more muted image has compared to the flashy colors and playfulness of the painted stairs.

Bark & Gold Photography's Jessica Wasik photographs a husky mix at Pittsburgh's Strip District Terminal
Top right image by Holl Photography; bottom left image by Cherok Photography.

A quick blow into my Wildly Noisy Wooden Thing (yes, that’s really what it’s called and one of my frequent go-tos) caught her attention despite all the surrounding distractions, resulting in that curiously classic What was that?! head tilt.

The Strip District Terminal is particularly appealing to those who crave an urban-feel that’s not right in downtown Pittsburgh, but is it a good choice for your dog?

If yours is comfortable around people and other leashed dogs, displays confidence despite the buzzing activity and sounds of city environments, or requires less walking due to age or physical limitations, then yes—‍he’ll likely do well here.

Highlights of the Strip District Terminal and its surrounding streets include:

  • Brightly colored painted stairs, pop-up murals, and graffiti walls
  • Nearby brick alleys that add an industrial look with muted, neutral tones
  • Riverfront trails with areas of green space and subtle views of the city’s bridges

Oh, and one more fun bonus of choosing the Strip District Terminal for your Bark & Gold Photography session: it’s only five minutes from Salty Paws Pittsburgh, Lawrenceville’s doggie ice cream shop, a must-visit for an after-session reward!

Due to its popularity for recreation, dining, shopping, and events like its pet-friendly TAILgates at The Terminal, it is essential to check event schedules prior to booking here, and for that reason, this location is only available for Sunday morning sessions. As is the case with most urban locations, all dogs must remain leashed while at the Strip District Terminal, but leashes will be removed in your final images.

Related: Camera Club: Location Scouting at Frick Park

If you’re interested in attending a camera club meeting, the details can be found on the Flourish Academy Community group on Facebook. Click here to join and keep current on upcoming events.


Are you ready for your paws to pound the pavement at Pittsburgh’s Strip District Terminal or do you simply want to learn more about this location and others recommended for your pet photography session? Choose your adventure below to begin.

Did you enjoy this post? Great, there’s more coming your way because it’s part of a photography blog circle featuring pet photographers from all over the world! To see more content like this and what the next photographer is sharing for our weekly theme, “Location Spotlight,” check out Seattle Dog Photographer, Holly Cook, who shares a surprising little location that she loves. Continue to click the link at the end of each post in the blog circle until you eventually find your way back here.

16 thoughts on “Camera Club: Location Scouting for Dog Photography Sessions at Pittsburgh’s Strip District Terminal

  1. Kim Hollis says:

    I love urban photography and every time I see photos like this, it makes me want to do it more! (just not when it’s a 100 degrees outside!) I love those steps!!

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      Thanks, Kim! This is a newer location to me, but you can bet I added it to my location guide. It’s fantastic with lots of options. I like shooting in more urban spots too, but I’ve found that not all dogs do well in that environment so I’m more often at my preferred quiet spots.

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      Thanks, Fiona! It was fun exploring the Strip to experiment and get some ideas of what could work with my Pittsburgh pups. There’s definitely a lot of variety here, and I can’t wait to photograph here again!

  2. Courtney M Bryson says:

    Wow! I love this! You could have variety for 5 different sessions just in one location. So cool!

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      It’s a gem! I can’t wait to find even more cool spots that we didn’t touch on during our time there.

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      It’s hard to beat a husky head tilt! When I spotted her, she reminded me of Hunter, and I knew I needed a photo of her!

  3. Darlene says:

    Love seeing your camera club adventure – so much fun! That couch – the lips – fantastic! Great photo of you! Those colorful stairs are amazing!

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      Thank you! My friend Laura snapped it. She’s a great senior photographer here in Pittsburgh!

  4. Cahlean Klenke says:

    Those COLORS! MEGA drool!!! I LOVE the lips couch, the giant connect 4, the steps… I may have to make a trip out that way some day! A wonderful urban location for dog photography!

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