Red Bank | Family Portrait Photography

Red Bank is a fun town that has a lot of great spots for family photos. It’s a bright, dynamic area that offers cool and interesting backgrounds for your photoshoot.

There are two things I like about shooting family portraits in Red Bank.

First, is the wide variety of types of shots we can get there. From traditional shots along the river to more fun and city-like shots as the sun goes down and the street lights light up…you’ll love the images of your family that we can capture here.

The second thing I love about shooting in Red Bank…so many good restaurants to head to after the shoot!

Navesink River

Red Bank along the Navesink has almost a New England kind of feel to it. 

You can start off right in the streets of Red Bank. With brick sidewalks in some areas and beautiful buildings, it is the perfect combination of city and seaside. 

Then you can head down to the marina. I would suggest shooting there during sunrise or sunset to capture some dramatic images and beautiful skies against the backdrop of the boats. 

A fun approach here is to try for a more candid type of shoot. Walking along the sidewalk together or letting the kids peer into various stores.

Before the sun sets and the light goes away, find a spot where you can take some photos riverside. 

Riverside Gardens Park 

The Riverside Gardens Park is a gorgeous spot for your photoshoot. It has great views of the Navesink River. The wide open space is great as the kids can run around. 

The park has viewfinders to look through and find boats and marine life. It is fun to have the kids look through them and see their reactions to what they see. 


Downtown is another great location for your photoshoot. The buildings and restaurants make a cool background for your photos. At night, the street lights come on and make your photos even more interesting with their glow. 

When the roads are closed the streets are fun to shoot in because of all the backgrounds that you can use. 

One of my favorite places in Reb Bank is Yestercades Arcade. Its an arcade that features games from the 70s and 80s all the way up to today.

Whether you want to go all out and dress in your best 80s gear or just capture a few nostalgia shots to mis in with a more traditional shoot, its a fun place for kids and adults alike.


In downtown and other parts of Red Bank you can find murals. Usually they are in a more secluded spot, like between two buildings.

They make dynamic backgrounds and are fun for kids to pose in front of. The vibrant background is great for dancers and athletes as well.

Manasquan Beach | Family Portrait Photography

I’ve spent many summers at the beach in Manasquan and now as NJ family portrait photographer, it’s one of my “go-to” beaches to shoot family portraits.

The Beach

The beach itself in Manasquan is a great spot for a family photo. What I like about this location compared to some other beaches is that there are a number of jetties that are somewhat accessible to use as a background or even stand on (if you’re sure-footed and safe about it).

Also, the beach itself is easy to access during sunset times (the ideal time for family photos) because many of the daily beachgoers have left so parking is easier to find.

Manasquan Inlet

The Manasquan Inlet is one of the few NJ beach areas where you can get an awesome sunset photo.

Living on the east coast means that it’s tough to get great beach shots with the sunset and water in the actual frame. But at the Manasquan Inlet, you can get shots standing on the jetty with sun setting in the background over the water and Gull Island.

This one was taken on the other side of the inlet from Manasquan, but still shows this great sunset location.

Fisherman’s Cove Conservation Area

Fisherman’s Cove is a place you might not have thought of for family portraits, but if one of your family members has four legs then this might be the perfect spot for your next shot shoot. It’s a dog-friendly area with great sunset views that is easy to get to.

Just a couple of blocks away from the beach, you can park on the street or in the lot adjacent to the inlet to get to this spot.

One of my favorite parts about this area is that it’s dog friendly. So if getting your dog in the family photo AND shooting on a beach is important to you, then this is the place to be.

Gee Gee’s Pizza

Manasquan doesn’t have the big arcades or rides that you’ll find in some NJ beach towns. If you want the action and excitement then you can go one town over for a family photo shoot at Point Pleasant. But for many people, a quieter, more laid-back atmosphere is a very welcome thing!

What they do have is small casual places like Gee Gee’s with good pizza and a cool relaxed atmosphere.

I like shooting casual candids in places like this. It can be especially useful when you have little kids that don’t have the attention span for lots of posed shots.

They also have a small arcade where the kiddies can have some fun playing skee ball or trying to win a stuffed animal from the infamous claw game. These always make for some great secondary candid shots during your portrait session that are great for filling out an album or wall gallery to capture the great time you had at the beach.

What To Wear For A Photoshoot Outdoors

You’ve got the photographer, chosen the location, booked the session but now what will you wear?

It is understandable that this may cause some feelings of stress as you are investing in family heirlooms, but it doesn’t have to be complex.

A quick internet search might leave you believing that black is good and white is bad regardless of context. But generalities like that can be very limiting.

The following tips will help dispel old rules and help you coordinate the most cohesive, timeless look for your outdoor family photoshoot. 

Don’t Match Head to Toe 

You know the photographs. Every family member in jeans and a black shirt.

It was designed as a simple formula but it can feel unnatural or contrived. Instead of a uniform, choose a color palette. To start, decide if you want warm-tones (brown, tan, beige, etc) or cool-tones (blues, grays, blacks, etc).

From there, you can branch out to decide on specific colors that will make a cohesive look without creating a family uniform. 

Create a Mood With Color 

Darker colors create a thoughtful, relaxed tone while brighter colors create a more playful mood.

Keep in mind your location as you choose your colors and mood. If you are shooting with a fun street mural, pick muted colors that won’t clash with the vivid backdrop.

If you are shooting in nature, it is best to pick colors that are present in nature. Pick one to two colors to focus on and mix in neutrals to put the look together. Make sure that your neutrals are in the same color family. 

Leave These at Home 

Avoid loud patterns and logos. These can distract the eye and take away from the overall photo.

Even if it is within your color palette, these things will not add to the photo but take away from it. Fluorescent colors, hot pink and bright coral should be avoided as well.

Keep accessories to a minimum. You want your faces to be the focus of the photo. 

Don’t Forget About Textures 

Often an overlooked topic, this can make or break the “put-together” look of your outfits.

If the family is in flannel but one person is in a flowy bohemian dress, the outfits don’t work together. Whether a warm vibe is chosen (flannel, knits, velvets) or a cooler vibe (cotton, linen, etc), make sure that everyone is wearing the same kind of textures. 

Don’t Fight for the Hair Bow 

You know your child better than anyone. Do they hate ties? Do they hate hair bows?

Will you be spending more time trying to keep that one thing part of the picture than enjoying your photography session?

Will your little one immediately run to play in the dirt as soon as their feet hit the ground, ruining those khaki pants?

Don’t put your child in an outfit you will have to fight for. Make things easy on yourself. Forget about the hair bows and ties if it will be a fight. Keep your little one in darker pants if you know they will be getting them dirty. You are creating memories as well as family heirlooms. 

Know Yourself 

If you never wear a full glamorous face of makeup, now might not be the best time to try it. You want your photos to fully reflect who you are as a family.

You know your comfort level best. While cosmetics can highlight the best parts of your features, it shouldn’t cause stress. Generally, neutral shades are best for photography as they won’t draw attention away from the other members of your family.

If you wear that red lip every day, by all means, wear it now. The point is to capture you and all of your family as  you are. 

Check the Fit 

Those pants that look great but have to be adjusted every two minutes aren’t the best choice for your photoshoot. Make sure you can move freely in what you have chosen to wear.

Test your outfits, shoes included, to make sure everyone can move around without having to constantly readjust. There’s nothing worse than discovering at the photoshoot that your kid is frustrated with shoes that are too big (or too small). 

Another good test of your outfit is to stand in front of a full-length mirror and pick up your child to your hip. If you find you need to readjust clothing over and over again, it may not be the right thing to wear. Choose something that fits well in all scenarios. 

Lay it All Out 

Lay all of the clothing to be worn on a bed. Shoes, socks, accessories, everything should be included. Take a look at the spread.

If your eye gravitates to one particular item, then know that it will do the same in a photo. This may be advantageous if you are wanting to highlight a family member, but in most cases you will want to avoid this to get the best photograph.

Dress For the Weather

Pinterest can be full of great ideas, but it may take you off course when choosing clothing for a photoshoot. Ideas for what to wear to a fall photoshoot may not be designed for your climate.

If you are having a photoshoot outside during cooler months, it is possible to create pleasing outfits by layering. Start from the bottom layer with long underwear, shirts, and vests.

You don’t have to be stuck wearing that puffy winter coat. In warmer weather, keep in mind that you will still want to keep skin exposure to a comfortable minimum to keep the focus on your face. Keep the textures to cotton and linens to keep everyone cool. 

Also keep in mind that just after sunrise or just before sunset is usually the best time to take pictures outside, so that usually means it will be a little cooler than the high temperature for the day.

Final Tips 

You want to make sure everyone is clean and tidy. Be sure that fingernails and hands are clean. It is a good idea to bring wet wipes for little ones to keep their faces clean on the go.

Make sure that everyone has had a good night’s rest the night before so little ones aren’t cranky and you feel your best on the day you capture these family treasures. 

59 Family Portrait Ideas For Your Next Shoot

Ready to plan your family portrait but running out of family portrait ideas?

Looking for some inspiration?

Here’s a complete list of all the family portrait ideas I have shot, suggested, or just simply contemplated.

Beach Day

Take a quick look at my website and you’ll know that I love shooting at the beach. With the Jersey Shore right here, don’t pass up an opportunity to shoot at your favorite spot.


Everyone loves the boardwalk. The lights, colors, and excitement it brings to the photos will make the boardwalk a perfect spot for a family portrait.

Jersey shore boardwalk
The pure joy of winning a prize at the boardwalk games.

Visit Some Old Buildings

There’s something about older buildings and structures that make them a compelling backdrop for photos. There are a lot of options around here too, like this shoot I did in Allaire Village. 

Bring Your Four-Legged Family Member

You can’t leave a family member out of the family portrait. Bring them to a park they’re comfortable with, have a few treats on hand, and you’ll get that family portrait with EVERYONE in it!

Styled Shoot

Looking for that magazine cover look?

A styled shoot means everything is planned out…like the outfits, the set, and even hair and makeup. We can bring in a stylist and makeup artist to create a family portrait that would look right at home on the cover of Vanity Fair.

Recreate An Old Family Photo

Spend some time on social media and you’ll see a lot of these. Find an older family photo and recreate that same shot. This is especially fun if the original shot is a group of kids that are now all grown up.

Bring The Extended Family

The more the merrier. Have a big family get together coming up soon? That is the perfect time to set up an extended family portrait session. Just remember that holiday weekends book up fast!

Classic Studio Portrait

Want that classic studio look? Clean backdrop, perfect lighting, and fun poses for your family portrait? No problem, I can set up everything I need right in your home. You’ll have all the comforts of home and the result will look amazing. 

Fun Family Activity At Home

Looking for a more candid collection of family photos? Plan a fun family activity at home and bring the photographer to capture the whole thing with professional quality.

Lifestyle/Day In The Life

This is really an extended version of the Family Activity shoot. Plan a few hours or even a whole family day together (if you can handle it!) and have a photographer tag along to capture the memories, interactions, and genuine emotions.

Breakfast In Bed

Does your family tend to gather in the parent’s big bed on Sunday mornings? Capture that moment that represents your family. Except we’ll let you wake up and prepare to look your best before the actual photos are taken!

Family Cooking or Baking

Does your family cook or bake together? Want to capture that moment when your little one is covered in flour trying to help? Plan a family shoot around a fun kitchen experience.

Throw A Pool Party

Water splashing, colorful bathing suits, and the excitement of jumping into the water. You can’t go wrong with a good pool party in the summer.

Go Retro

Plan out your best 70s, 80s, or 90s outfits and get the family together for a retro photoshoot. Themes like this are a great way to change things up when it comes to your family portrait.

Go Vintage

Classic looks from the 40s or earlier can be distinct and timeless, especially with the children involved.

Winter Wonderland

A lot of families wait until Spring for family photos but if the cold doesn’t bother you that much, winter can be the perfect setting for unique and striking photos. I love to use bold colored outfits to contrast with freshly fallen snow.

Decorating Your Home

Is decorating your home part of a family tradition for the holidays? Then think about capturing those memories beyond just the regular snapshots.

Christmas Lights

Christmas lights offer an amazing opportunity for beautiful images but also can be very tricky to capture effectively. In the hands of a professional, a home or other setting decorated with lights is perfect.

Play Your Favorite Sport

Have an athletic family? Then plan a family shoot around your favorite sport. Get matching jerseys to complete the look. Work with your photographer to plan out some epic action shots too!

Day At The Park

Family photos at the park is a common but great idea for your family portrait. The trees, flowers, and grass all make for an ideal setting. If you can find a park with other features like a lake or stream that will make it even better.

Family Game Day

Break out the board games and get the family together for game day (or night). As long as the competition isn’t too intense, a game day is a fun time for everyone and makes for some great candid photos.

Flowers In The Spring

There are always local spots that have flower gardens in the spring. This is a great location for a family portrait with young children.

Have A Picnic

Everyone loves a picnic! Get your family together, pack up some food, and head to the park or the beach with your picnic blanket and enjoy a fun family experience. I’ll simply tag along with the camera and capture the fun and interactions.

Use Your Favorite Movie or TV Show As Inspiration

Does your family have a favorite TV show? Dress up as your favorite characters for your next family photo. You can even recreate the opening credits or a famous episode.

Shoot An Album Cover

Does your family love music? Let’s plan and shoot your family “album cover.” Are you an edgy rock band or a fun pop band? Doesn’t matter, I can make you look like you belong on stage.

Dress Up As Your Favorite Superheros (or Villain)

I grew up loving comic books and superheroes. With the right costume, good lighting, and a little bit of Photoshop magic, I’ll turn your family into the Avengers, The Justice League, or whatever superheroes (or villains) you relate to most.

Go On An Adventure

Take your family hiking, climbing, learning to ski, exploring, or whatever it is that you and your family love to do for a little adrenaline rush. I can’t promise I’ll be climbing with you, but I’ll be close by capturing the fun for your very exciting family portrait.

In-Home Sessions

So many of your family’s memories take place in your home. So capture some of those memories with a candid portrait shoot in your home.

Visit The City

To me “the city” is NYC, but I’d be happy to go to Philly for a city family portrait shoot. Every city has hundreds of unique and beautiful locations that can make your family portrait session great.

Shoot In The Rain (sort of)

Shooting in the rain is terrible. But how about adding some fake rain for dramatic effect? With a combination of the right lighting setup and a garden hose, we can create a really cool effect for your portraits.

Go Out On A Boat

If you have a boat or (even better) a friend with a boat, that can be a great place for your family portrait. Take the boat out at sunrise or sunset and visit come secluded spots that no one else will have in their photos.

Play In The Leaves

Kids jumping in the leaves is a classic look for a family portrait. But you should change it up and jump in there with them!

Relax On The Couch

Are all these exciting ideas making you feel exhausted? How about a few shots of the family where you potentially spend most of your time.

Go Old School

do you still live near mom and dad’s high school? Are the kids planning to go there too? Try including your alma matter in a few shots. Maybe even knock the dust off that letterman’s jacket.

Sparklers At Night

You’ll need a photographer will the skill to pull this off, but sparklers can look great on camera. If they are really good, you can write out messages as the photo is being taken.

Shoot Under The Fireworks

Fireworks are just giant sparklers in the sky, so they can work great for photos as well. This one requires a little planning ahead with your photographer so give yourself enough lead time.

Create Light Art

Visit The Aquarium

Visit The Zoo

Jumping Freeze Frame

Go Horseback Riding

Visit A Farm or Ranch

Go Black and White

Read A Story To The Little Kids

Shoot Silhouettes At Sunset

Show Off Your Hobbies or Interests

Let The Kids Bring Their Favorite Toys

Shoot Near Interesting Architecture

Shoot At Your Local Movie Theater

Find A 50s Style Cafe

Use Your City’s Downtown Area

Find A Flower Garden

Visit A Sunflower Field

Halloween Portrait At A Pumpkin Patch

Dress Up For Halloween

Go To A Christmas Tree Farm

Visit The Library or a Bookstore

Jumping In Some Leaves

Have Some Fun With Balloons

Allaire State Park Photography

Allaire State Park is a great photography location located in Howell and Wall Township, New Jersey in Monmouth .

It has a great combination of wooded areas, nature trails, old buildings, and even a train museum. All of these elements can make for interesting portraits of any kind. As a NJ family photographer, Allaire state park is rich with opportunities to create unique and beautiful images as well as family memories that can last a lifetime.

A big part of creating a fun and unique family portrait is picking the location. I always recommend a location that not only has a great look to it but is also unique and fun to visit. Let’s face it, if no one wants to be there, the pictures will show that and all you end up with is a bunch of bored faces in a pretty location.

That’s why I like shooting at Allaire State Park and Allaire Village. It’s interesting and there is a lot to do and explore for kids of all age groups.

The Holiday season at Allaire is really special. They go all out decorating the village and it makes the perfect setting for timeless holiday photos.

I’ll take a family through some areas of the park, visit the village, go check out the trains and before they know it, we’ve got a ton of awesome, fun photos, and it seemed like just a regular family outing.

This is the best way to capture genuine emotion and interactions between family members and ensure you get the most out of your family portrait.

So if you’re thinking of booking a family portrait with me at Allaire, here’s some more interesting and useful information…

Allaire State Park Facts

  • The park is operated by the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry.
  • Named after James P. Allaire, the founder of Howell Works.
  • Allaire Village is a restored 19th Century ironworks facility called Allaire Village.

Allaire State Park Train Museum

Allaire State Park is also home to the New Jersey Museum of Transportation which runs the Pine Creek Railroad.

Aside from being a cool place to check out the old trains and learn a little bit about New Jersey history, the trains also make a great spot your family photos.

Unlike some museums, you can actually ride on the trains here. As of the time this was written there was a $4 charge per person. Although I haven’t tried this yet, a ride on the train would make a great setting for some family photos. Activities like this will keep the little ones engaged and having fun. It won’t even feel like a family portrait, but you’ll end up with photos that show genuine joy, excitement, and interactions.

The Pine Creek Railroad is operated by volunteers for the New Jersey Museum of Transportation. The museum, an independent not-for-profit organization, moved there in 1962. The railroad that you can ride is a ½ mile loop of track through the Allaire Park.

Allaire State Park Trails

Allaire State Park has a multitude of trails for hiking, but they can be a great spot for family photos as well.

Young kid throwing up leaves during a family photo session at Allaire State Park

Woodland settings like this are a great place for a family portrait. Especially in the Fall season, the trees can form the perfect background and space usually isn’t a problem, even for bigger families.

The Manasquan River also winds through the park, making it a popular spot for canoeists and fishermen. The river makes for an ideal habitat for over 200 species of wildflowers, trees and plants as well as birds and other wildlife.

All of these factors can make for interesting and unique photos that can be a little different than your normal woodsy family portraits. The accessibility of many of these elements within a very short distance is also very convenient. That convenience is perfect for families with little kids (and also photographers with a lot of equipment!).

Allaire State Park Buildings

From a photographer’s perspective, one of the best parts about this location is the antique buildings.

The restored buildings there today include a general store, blacksmith shop, carpenter’s shop, manager’s house, foreman’s house and a church. These older buildings can be a great setting for photography because they have a lot of character.

We can’t take pictures inside many of the buildings but the outside of the buildings create a great atmosphere and setting.

Allaire State Park Hours

Since it is a state park, you have to be aware of the operating hours if you want to have your family photos there.

The park opens daily at 8 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m. Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. After Labor Day and during the month of March the park closes at 6 p.m. In November the park closes at 4:30 p.m.

Allaire Village Directions

If you are planning a photo session at Allaire Village, it can be a little tricky to find the right place to park since Allaire State Park is a relatively large place.

Getting There

Allaire State Park can be reached from exit 98 off the Garden State Parkway or exit 31B off Interstate 195.

Street Address:
4265 Atlantic Ave.
Farmingdale, NJ 07727

GPS Coordinates:
40° 09’ 43.60” N 74° 07′ 53.62″ W


During Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day (the “in season”) there is a small fee for parking. As of the time this post was written it was only $5 per car on weekends. Parking is free on weekdays.