Pittsburgh Photo Shoot Location | Phipps Conservatory and Schenley Cafe & Visitor Center

Are you looking for the perfect location for a photo session in the Pittsburgh area? Then you will want to check out the area outside of Phipps Conservatory and the Schenley Cafe and Visitor Center!

In this post, I’ll share more details about these locations with some images from my most recent family photo session there. Scroll through this post to read about a few additional locations that are within a very short walking distance!

When I say Phipps Conservatory, I am referring to taking photos outside, not inside. I have done photo sessions inside, but you usually have to pay a fee and contact them ahead of time. Please see their website for details!

For outside, you do not have to pay or let them know ahead of time. Just please note that you are not permitted to take photos in any of the gated outdoor gardens. These gates are usually locked and closed, however, if they are open, you’re not permitted to enter unless you pay for admission and ask permission to take photos.

For photos outside, there are a few great areas that I recommend.

First, there are two rectangular concrete ponds on the side of the conservatory (next to the Panther Hollow Road). This area is perfect in the late afternoon, just before sunset! You can find some photos from that area in this blog post.

**However, take note that this area was under construction during the summer of 2023. During construction, the “ponds/fountains” are empty and there is fencing and construction equipment all around this area. I’ll update this post when I know for sure that it is completed! (This is why I was not able to get photos with this family in that spot)

The next area, just across the street from Phipps, is the Schenley Visitor Center and Cafe. This restored brick building has beautiful flowers in front of it that are perfect in the summer. The best time to shoot here with the flowers in the background is in the morning before the sun pops up too high in the sky. These photos were taken between 9:30 and 10am in July.

Just to the left of the Cafe is this nice grassy area with trees behind it. A perfect spot for a morning session! This area is also beautiful in the fall! The trees behind them get colorful foliage.

On the side of the Visitor Center, is a set of stairs leading to a beautiful cobblestone path with a black metal railing that leads to a stone arch (which is the underside of the Panther Hollow Bridge).

Right next to the path is this 2nd set of stairs which makes for yet another spot for photos!

You could also take the cobblestone path, or these stairs, and walk just a couple minutes down the path to find the Tufa Bridge (Hemispherical Arch). This is also another unique spot for photos!

Back across the street, connected to the Conservatory is the Botany Hall Building. This recently restored and architecturally unique building has a set of stone stairs and large wood doors. In front of the building is a copper fountain, curved wood benches and a Mediterranean inspired garden. The garden has beautiful purple flowers in the summer.

This area is best in the late afternoon upon until sunset. It has direct sun in the morning and early afternoon. Check out this blog post for more photos that include the building.

Because I had this family here in the morning, the bright direct sunlight would have been in their eyes so we did not utilize that spot and only spent a few minutes at the fountain and in the garden.

Other areas outside of Phipps that could be used are the double set of curved stairs at the main entrance as well as utilizing any of flower gardens that are in season around the front of the building and entrance.

Bonus Nearby Locations

-Take a quick 5-minute walk down Schenley Drive to the Westinghouse Memorial. This is yet another unique location that is pretty in all seasons, especially in the fall because the foliage is gorgeous when it reflects off the pond water.

-Just across the street from the main entrance of Phipps (across Schenley Drive) is Flagstaff Hill. This area was recently re-done with a new stone wall and stone steps. There are a ton of trees over here to create shade on a hot sunny day and the trees are very colorful in the fall!

-The Tufa Bridge (Hemispherical Arch) Take the set of stairs from the cobblestone path behind the Schenley Cafe to see this unique stone arched bridge!



There’s street parking all along Schenley Drive. Be sure to pay the meters (except after 6pm and on Sundays). If Phipps is closed, you can park in the center parking area in front of Phipps for free. However, this is reserved for Phipp’s visitors only during their business hours or if they have an event.


The areas outside are open all the time!

The Schenley Park Cafe is open Tuesday – Sunday from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. 


You can ask permission to use the restroom in the Schenley Visitor Center when they are open, or walk down into the entrance of Phipps Conservatory and use their restrooms.

I hope that you found this post to be useful for your next photo session in Pittsburgh! This location is great for family, Senior, Engagements, Weddings, etc!

If you’re looking for a newborn or family photographer in Pittsburgh,  please get in touch to inquire about a session! I’d love to plan a photo session for your family!

Here are a couple of other blog posts from photo sessions from this location that you might want to check out! 

Are you on Instagram? I’d love to connect with you there!

All images by Mary Beth Miller Photography 

Mary Beth Miller Photography specializes in family and newborn photography in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and many of the surrounding areas. Mary Beth has over thirteen years of experience photographing families, newborns and babies in Pittsburgh including Hampton Township, India Township, O’Hara Township, Indianola, Dorseyville, Oakmont,  and Fox Chapel.  Her style is very relaxed and natural and your family session will feel like a stress-free Sunday afternoon with your family! 

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  • Rya

    Love your posts, Mary Beth! So informative!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryne

    What a beautiful location! Such a sweet family!ReplyCancel

  • Such an informative post and so many great locations for your clients to choose from!ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey

    A few of my favorite Pittsburgh locations! Beautiful family photos!ReplyCancel

  • WOW!  So much beautiful variety in one area!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie

    all great photos, and great locations too!ReplyCancel

Mary Beth Miller Photography


Established in 2009
Family & Newborn Photographer serving the greater Pittsburgh area; Wexford, Mars, Cranberry Twp., and also serving Boardman, Poland, and Canfield, Ohio.

Mary Beth Miller Photography

best newborn photographers in Pittsburgh Expertise logo award

Established in 2009
Family & Newborn Photographer serving the greater Pittsburgh area; Wexford, Mars, Cranberry Twp., and also serving Boardman, Poland, and Canfield, Ohio.