The 12 Best Editorial Photographers in Pittsburgh

Curious to see who made our list of the top Pittsburgh editorial photographers? For us at Peerspace, it was a pleasure combing through the work of the PGH’s finest.

You’ll often find that a city’s professional services tend to meld and streamline to meet the needs of its dominant industry. But as you can see with this selection of notable Pittsburgh editorial photographers, there is a healthy diversity in the genres they work in and the interests they serve. It could also be a great snapshot of the city’s eclectic evolution. You decide.

1. Dominique Murray

Among the new breed of social media-inspired photographers and image creators, Dominique Murray actually got her start taking pictures with her phone. Her talent was clearly evident in her efforts, Murray parlayed her abilities into a burgeoning business. She now takes creative portraits and headshots, and using her fertile imagination to conceptualize, produce, and capture wonderfully unique and intriguing editorial imagery.

There is a definite appealing quirkiness in her work. “I will do anything for the perfect shot,” Murray says, “including soak my friends in milk.”

2. Kaela Speicher

Kaela Speicher’s online presence leaves no question beauty and fashion are what she shoots. Her work is so extraordinarily slick, to boot, there’s simply no question about her professional experience (which, for the record, is now over 16 years).

Her images largely appear in international magazines, like Vogue Italia, W&M Magazine, and most recently, Moevir Paris. But wherever they may be published, Speicher still gushes, “There’s nothing better than seeing your hard work in print.”

3. Chandler Crowell

Don’t let Chandler Crowell’s youthful looks fool you — he’s been part of the corps of Pittsburgh editorial photographers for nearly a quarter of a century! Portraits are his specialty. Local and regional media clients often hire him for the on-location editorial portraits he’s so good at. In fact, his work often gives us a masterfully captured bigger picture of the environment and elements that define the subject. Crowell doesn’t have to tell us his work tells stories; we can see that for ourselves.

4. Joe Appel

It’s no mystery that Joe Appel is a wedding photographer. Do a little digging, however, and you’ll learn that before all the nuptials, he was a staff photographer for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Editorial photography’s “my first love,” says Appel, and it’s something he still happily does for many local and niche magazines. His shots are often on the covers, and Appel’s visual storytelling prowess is undeniable. Definitely a hidden gem among Pittsburgh editorial photographers.

5. Martha Rial

A former staff photographer at the St. Petersburg Times and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Martha Rial went independent in 2009. With her affinity for creating visual narratives and photographing people in their environments, she’s since worked on special assignments and documentaries, often in faraway places like Haiti and Burundi.

Her work is consistently critically-acclaimed, exhibited, and rewarded, and has even earned her a Pulitzer. When she can, she lends her talents to publications more local to her, such as her “Pandemic Mode” photo essay in Pittsburgh Magazine.

6. Christine Armbruster

As a food photographer, Christine Armbruster has developed an extensive list of clients. In fact, you can find her work published in national magazines like Healthy Living, Outside, and the Wine Enthusiast, and in cookbooks.

Most don’t realize, however, that Armbruster is also making quite a name for herself in documentary photography. Her photo series projects have taken her around the world, to places like the Dominican Republic and the Arabian desert, and are published and have drawn considerable attention internationally. Looking at her full plate, Armbruster surely has no difficulty at all keeping busy.

7. Lauren Rosenthal

Wedding photographer Lauren Rosenthal is no stranger to seeing her images featured in national and online publications. Among the Pittsburgh editorial photographers we’ve seen, in fact, she has the biggest media appearances list. This includes non-wedding specific publications like People, Time, and The New York Times.

After poring through many of them, we think there’s something special about her shots that even the media senses. Rosenthal just really enjoys capturing happiness and love in her photographs, and that really comes through in her images.

8. Erin Kelly

Here’s an unusual subgenre we don’t often see among Pittsburgh editorial photographers: interiors and architecture. And Erin Kelly’s been shooting them for over a decade now. As you can imagine, the editorial opportunities are specialized and quite discriminating.

With Kelly’s work appearing regularly in magazines like Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, Domino, and Country Living, its quality is simply undeniable. Even more amazingly impressive: Kelly shoots entirely in available light.

9. Elliott Cramer

Putting his editorial photography and visualization talents to work for commercial projects is Elliott Cramer’s forte. As you would expect, his style is bright, clean, and crisp, technically impeccable, which is practically a visual prerequisite for his clientele.

Where it gets highly interesting is Cramer’s ability to help develop and visually execute his often more purposeful, and even inspirational, client projects. The “60 Strong Campaign” is an excellent example, featuring baby boomers across four cities who lead active, healthy, and productive lifestyles. It truly is admirable work.

10. Adam Milliron

Poring through all the gastronomic delights masterfully presented in Adam Milliron’s portfolio is not an easy job, but we’ll gladly do it. Many food and wine magazines — like Bon Appetit, Table, the Wine Spectator, and of course, Food & Wine — can’t resist featuring his work in their pages either. Unless you’re sensitive to the nuances between the genres and the occasional subject matter shifts, it’s practically impossible to really differentiate between his commercial and editorial work.

Thanks to his BTS shots, we can see why, as they show us just how much preparation Milliron devotes to getting them perfect.

11. Daniel Baca

Devoting much of his independent commercial and editorial photographic work to the active and outdoor lifestyle niche, Daniel Baca’s client list looks like a who’s who of sports and related brands, with a number of magazines (like Field & Stream and WHILE Magazine) in the mix. He likes working on other genre projects, however, resulting in an impressively diverse portfolio showcasing a variety of styles.

What is consistent throughout is his ability to really nail those shots, whatever the subject, environment, or lighting conditions, making Baca one heck of an all-around go-to photographer.

12. Noah Purdy

An accomplished food photographer, Noah Purdy’s list of clients and cookbooks he’s worked on is impressive enough. But what brought Purdy to our attention is his people photography. You could call them portraits, but they’re more than that. They’re conceptual works, a series of similarly styled images, not just a single portrait. They’re also usually studio creations and simple, even minimalistic, yet striking and compelling.

It’s little wonder then that the press and magazines like using them to accompany features of his clients. Even for covers! It’s really intriguing work and opens up a lot of possibilities.

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