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

How To Choose Wall Art For Your Home

Choosing wall art pieces for your home can be a daunting task following your portrait session. 

But the result of having beautiful timeless pieces displayed in your home of your family is well worth the investment of time and money.

I consider it my job to guide you through the process and ensure you end up with wall art that looks great in your space and that you are happy with. 

This starts from the initial planning meeting where we discuss what you had in mind and ends with a photo viewing session where you can select your wall art. In this post, let’s talk a little about the steps you can take to make sure you end up with the perfect piece or pieces of wall art for your home…

1. Choosing A Style of Wall Art

This is the first thing you should decide. 

I offer three styles of wall art in addition to standard glossy paper prints and framing services. 


Canvas prints are among the most popular ways to display images today.

They have a more classic feel to them than metal or acrylic. If you have a more traditionally decorated home then you can’t go wrong with a canvas. You can hang canvas prints in the same room as traditionally framed prints and you should not have to worry about them being out of place. 

Canvas prints are best displayed in large sizes. Because they are about 1 1/2 inches thick, a smaller size canvas seems disproportionate. On the other hand, a large size canvas looks right at home covering an entire wall. 

Canvas prints also look good in sets of two or three. 

If you are looking to display prints in an room that has multiple windows and gets a lot of sunlight, canvas is a very good choice. The almost matte finish of canvas does better than any other material in reducing glare. 


These are becoming very popular and represent the future of photographic printing.

Metal prints use a process of infusing dye into specially coated aluminum. This process results in very sharp images and beautifully saturated colors. These prints are resistant to water, scratches, and sun fading and do not need a frame needed.

This is a more modern look and may be out of place on the same wall as traditional framed prints. So they are a great option to get started decorating a new wall or to modernize the look in your home. 

Metal prints are very versatile. They look equally good as an 8×10 or a 30×40. Because they show more detail than a canvas, a small size like 8×10 still works well. In fact, a cluster of smaller metal prints may be the way to go. 

Clusters are a great solution when you have a lot of images you want to display, have a large family and want everyone to be featured on the wall, or if you want to grow your wall art collection over the years to show the growth of your family.  


Acrylic are the most impressive, but also the most impressive. 

The face of the print is mounted to clear acrylic to really make the colors pop. This is a very exciting printing process that allows colors and tones to really jump off the wall. 

Acrylic prints are probably the most modern looking style of wall art that I have available. They work well as clusters just like metal prints. 

2. Choosing The Right Size

Size is probably the most difficult aspect of selecting wall art for many people.

The most important thing to consider when choosing a size is the space where the piece will be displayed. If you put a smaller piece on a large empty wall then it will look tiny and become visually overwhelmed by the size of the wall. Conversely, if you place a large piece on a small wall, it will look crowded and awkward. 

The way I ensure you will pick the correct size is by allowing you to see what each size looks like on your wall. I’ll take a photo of your wall either before the session or while we are looking at your images from the session.

I’ll use something on the wall or place a piece of paper on the wall as a reference point for scale. Then we can use a computer to virtually place the images from your session on your wall and see exactly how each size will look on your wall. 

3. Choosing A Layout

This happens at the same time as choosing the size because they go together. 

Many of my clients prefer to design a wall collage or cluster of images rather than a single large print for their wall.

There are a number of benefits to this approach…

First, you can select more than one image.

Sometimes picking more than one image from a portrait session can be difficult. Rather than picking one image that has the entire family in it, you can select a cluster of images with each one featuring a different family member or different groupings. One popular approach is to have one slightly larger image of the entire family surrounded by smaller images of individuals or smaller groupings. 

Second, a cluster of images is more easily updated. 

Your family will grow. Individuals change and grow up. You may want portraits in different locations and during different seasons as time goes on. If you have one large piece on the wall then you will have to take it down and replace it if you want to update it. If you have a cluster of smaller images then you can add to it or replace just a few of them at a time. Since they are smaller pieces, it will make it easier to find another location in your home for the pieces that you take down. 

Third, multiple smaller images more easily fit in spaces that would otherwise be difficult to place a piece of wall art.

You can have a collection of images going up the stairs, shaped around other things on the wall, or even fit into smaller spaces. 

4. Price

I’m not going to pretend that this is not factor. Wall art from a portrait session can be a significant investment.

This investment is the reason it is so important to consider the factors above to make the best decision possible. Consider that a high quality piece of wall art can last for generations. Whether it is with me or somewhere else, you should ensure that you are getting long lasting high quality pieces that can be kept in the family for many many years. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind to make the process a little easier…

Discuss a Budget Ahead Of Time

Investments in wall art is a decision that typically involves more than one family member. Discussing your budget ahead of time can help make the selection process easier and more enjoyable. After all, seeing your photos and selecting your favorites to display should be fun rather than stressful!

Think About The Factors Above

Everything we already talked about already factors into making a decision regarding price. Having some ideas ahead of time will help give you a framework to understand what price range to expect. This can help you form a budget and avoid surprise. I always provide wall art pricing to my clients ahead of time so there are no surprises.  

The Final Product

With these simple steps, you will be in a great position to find exactly what you want and need for your home. You’ll end up having a piece of art hanging in your home that can be shared with multiple generations to come. 

My Portrait Session Process Step-by-Step

“How does this work?” is right up there with “what should we wear?” for the most popular questions I get asked.

Were you just about to ask that?

Don’t worry, it’s all here.

Here is what you can expect if you book a family portrait session with me. 

1. Book Your Date

First things first, let’s get that date booked for the shoot.  

Contact me via email, phone, or the contact form right here on my website.  

There’s no obligation to book a session at that point so feel free to contact me and ask questions about whatever you want to know from locations to pricing to print products that I offer. I try to put as much info as I can here on the website but there are always new questions that I haven’t thought of and I am happy to answer them. 

At this point if you decide to go forward and book a session, we can work out a date right there and then. I do most of my outdoor sessions within a few hours of sunset so that you can have the best possible lighting conditions. Because I want to make sure every client has the opportunity to get great conditions, I rarely book more than two portrait sessions in a day.

Not all sessions have to be outside at sunset though. I work with flash gear as well to ensure you get the best photos in any condition. If you had something else in mind, just ask.

Most clients typically book on weekends so those dates tend to go faster. 

After you choose a date, I’ll send you an email with the session fee and payment options. You can pay by credit card right from your smartphone or computer or you can mail a check. 

2. Pre-shoot Design Session

I don’t know if a lot of photographers do this but I think it’s the most important part. 

Every client and every photo session is unique. When we have the pre-shoot consult, which I call the “Design Session,” we will talk about your expectations, the type of images you want to create, and where you want to hang the photos in your home (as well as any other questions you might have).

We can do this in your home, over the phone, or even at meet at a cafe or coffee shop. But if you are looking to decorate your home with photos of your family, then meeting at your home and showing me the space where you want to hang the photos can be very helpful. 

I’ll also ask you for a photo of the wall or walls where you plan on hanging the photos (or take it myself if I’m there). Read on and you’ll see why this is an important step to make sure you get exactly what you need for your home.  

I want to make sure we create the kind of images you had in mind. We will talk about locations for your shoot, wardrobe choices, poses, the style of images you want to create, and anything else that we can do to make your images uniquely you. 

At this point, we can also schedule a time after the shoot for me to show you the photos. More about that later…

3. Portrait Session

This is the fun part. 

At this point, we’ve figured out a great plan for the shoot so all you have to do is show up. 

My portrait sessions are always fun. We had (almost) everyone showing their mean faces in this one!

Most portrait sessions take 45-90 minutes (mostly depending on the attention spans of the kids…or the adults), but I block off two hours for every portrait shoot. If we are doing the shoot in the evening for that great sunset light, I only book one shoot per evening, so if you are having fun and want to try making some nighttime images, let’s go for it!

If you think you need more time, we can always work that out ahead of time.

We will meet at the location and take a few minutes to go over the plan and I’ll try to point out the spots that we are going to go to first. Depending on the location, we may stay in one smaller area or we may be covering a lot of ground, but you’ll know all that ahead of time.  

Young kids have short attention spans so I’ll get all the shots that involve posing done first, after that it’s best to let the kids have some fun and get those candid photos that everyone loves. 

4. View Your Photos and Purchase Wall Art Pieces and Prints

The shoot is the fun part, but this is the exciting part. 

I’ll come to your house and either plug into your TV or use my laptop to let you view all the photos. 

We’ll start with a slide show of all the photos, so you can sit back, maybe grab a drink, and enjoy the photos. Most of my clients ask to see the slideshow twice!

After that, we will go through them one by one and you can pick your favorites. 

Then the exciting part. 

At this point, we will use some really cool design software and let you see exactly how your favorite photos will look on your wall. I can even show you exactly to scale what a specific size print will look like on your wall. This can be incredibly useful when you want to incorporate new wall art into existing pieces already on the wall or if you want to create a cluster or collage of various sizes to fill the wall space. 

Wall clusters are the most popular choice.

You’ll also have the opportunity to take a look at physical examples of canvas, metal, and acrylic prints. 

Once you choose exactly what you want, we can place the order right there to minimize any delays in getting your pictures on your wall.  

5. Enjoy Your Photos For Many Years

If I did everything right then this part will be easy!

I use a high quality professional photo lab to create all my prints and wall art. I also have all my gear color calibrated to the specs of the print lab so there are so surprise red faces or purple skies (unless you like purple skies…then we can totally do that). This ensures that you get the best quality available to pro photographers and prints and wall art created by highly skilled photo technicians. These prints are archive quality and will last long enough to pass down to future generations. 

I personally inspect every piece that my clients order to ensure there are no defects. If there are, I deal directly with the lab to ensure you get a perfect final product, even if I have to order another print, canvas, or metal print at my cost. 

After that I will deliver them to your home and even provide wall mounting for you if you need some help with that. My goal is to ensure that your photos look their best hanging on your wall and to do everything I can to make that happen. 

10 Great NJ Photo Spots for Portraits

As a New Jersey portrait photographer that works primarily in Monmouth, Ocean, and Mercer counties, it can be pretty important for me to know the best photo spots in those areas for my clients.

So if you are looking for a great spot for your next photography session or looking for the perfect engagement photo location, I hope this helps you find a great spot. 

If you want to learn more about my Jersey Shore photo sessions, CLICK HERE.

1. Asbury Park, NJ

There is no specific spot listed here for Asbury Park because the entire stretch of shore-front in this town is the perfect setting for individual and family portraits. It’s as if someone took a trendy Brooklyn neighborhood and dropped it off at the beach to enjoy the sun. You can start the day at Convention Hall. It’s an amazing piece of architecture that sits right on the boardwalk. As long as it’s not too crowded when you are there, this can serve as a great backdrop for some group photos.

Asbury Park portrait in front of the Stone Pony

Take a short walk south and you’ll get to the Asbury Park Casino which is now just a shell of the old building but the doorways right on the boardwalk work great for framing portraits. It will give your photos an interesting cross between the casual beach and urban looks. Head back north along the boardwalk and you can’t miss the amazing murals on the sides of the buildings. Some photos leaning up against these walls will make others think it was a high end, on location, fashion shoot. 

You can’t miss the Stone Pony, where Bruce Springsteen rose to popularity. If you have any interest in the history of rock and roll, you’ll want to try and feature this location in some of your photos. Vintage shops, restaurants, and bars like the Wonder Bar round out the rest of the great photo spots in this town. 

2. Long Branch Beach – Long Branch, NJ

Long Branch Beach is like a tiny taste of Miami on the Jersey Shore. Ok, so it can’t compare to the real thing but with the addition of Pier Village and some high-end hotels, there is a decidedly modern feel to this part of the Jersey Shore. 

two young kids on Long Branch Beach jumping into a tide pool during their family photo shoot
Long Branch Beach has a lot of great opportunities for unique images. During this shoot there were huge tide pools for the kids to play in.

Start on the boardwalk to the right of McLoone’s. There is a gazebo that is frequented by weddings and portrait photographers alike. Most of the construction in this area is very new and looks amazing in photos. The gazebo is great for framing a family group shot or even just one of the kids dangling their legs off the boardwalk over the sand. 


Moving onto the beach, it is like most beaches in the area. There is a nice jetty for some background elements. It can get a little crowded during busy times so be aware that you may have to do some creative framing to isolate your subjects from the rest of the crowd.  

As the sun goes down, move back onto the boardwalk where there are a couple of outdoor nightclubs that make for excellent blurred light backgrounds. If your photographer has some skill with flash photography then you can get some beautiful “Miami-esque” shots with these bars and clubs in the background. 

You can check out some of my Long Branch family portrait shoots HERE.


3. Spring Lake – Spring Lake, NJ

No, I didn’t accidentally write the name of the town twice! The lake itself in this beautiful town is also named Spring Lake. Just a few blocks off the beach is a pristine lake that is the perfect setting for family photos.  

Also located here is St. Catherine’s church. While more of an attraction for wedding photos this spot is nonetheless a  great spot for family portraits as well. If you are luck with some interesting skies during sunrise or sunset then the background of the church can make for an incredibly dramatic photo. 

Just across the street is the lake itself. You can start on the side of the lake under some of the trees or on a park bench. However, what I love about this location is the bridges. There are a couple very interestingly designed bridges crossing over sections of the lake. Whether you stand in the middle of the bridge to frame the shot or opt for an angle looking over the bridge, you can’t go wrong.

PRO TIP: Try a bunch of different poses and angles on these bridges, they are beautiful and interesting from any side and you’ll want to make sure you get some shots you like. Ask your photographer to help you plan out some ideas ahead of time. I make sure I talk to all my clients in a pre-shoot consultation so we can have a plan going into the shoot and they get exactly what they want hanging up on their walls. 

4. Allaire State Park – Wall Township, NJ

Allaire is a park that has all the standard “park things” but then throws you a surprise like a big old train right in the middle of the park! Its a really cool place and although you may need to do a little driving to hit all the great spots, it’s well worth it. 

Two young twins hugging each other in front of an antique building while sitting on the steps
Antique buildings are always a great place because they give your photos a timeless feel.

Allaire is the first place I would suggest to someone that wants a woodsy feel to their photos. Not only is it a huge park with many places to choose and trails to explore, but there are also a number of very unique spots in Allaire.  There is the Historic Village with a number of very old homes and buildings that are perfect for that old country feel to your images. You can also visit the Museum of Transportation and have your shoot in front of the trains. If all that isn’t enough, then bring a picnic basket and a blanket and stage the perfect family picnic for your family portrait. Bring some actual food though, Allaire is big and your photographer may get hungry!

PRO TIP: Allaire is also a great place to go for winter family portraits. Many of the spots that look good for photos are accessible by car without much walking so it is perfect to visit after a snowfall. You can make some images that look like something out of a movie. 

5. Gateway National Recreation Area – Sandy Hook, NJ

This covered a big area and there are a number of options you can take to shoot at Sandy Hook. But all of them are good options!

If you are interested in history, you should check out Fort Hancock, home to the Sandy Hook Lighthouse. There is, of course, the lighthouse itself. You can climb to the top for a great scenic overlook. 

More interesting to me is the small group of homes that dot the area. Of special note is officers row, a group of houses perfectly lined up along the water’s edge. During sunrise and sunset, they make for quite a dramatic background. Also interesting are the concrete bunkers built along the beach in some areas. You have to take a very short hike to get to some of them but that is something that you don’t typically see in a family photo. If you are a family of history buffs or a military family, you will definitely find this area interesting. 

There is more to Sandy Hook. As well as Fort Hancock, it has some beautiful public beaches. For those in northern Monmouth County, this would be a great choice. There are plenty of areas where you can get more “traditional” beach photos, such as lifeguard stands, lifeguard rowboats with the beach’s name on it, jetties, and even some areas of tidal pools if you’re lucky. These are great for getting some very cool reflection shots.  

6. Navesink River – Red Bank, NJ

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. 

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

7. Keansburg Amusement Park – Keansburg, NJ

This is the classic old school looking amusement park that really lends itself to great photography. 

Before heading to the amusement park, you can visit the fishing pier for some interesting “under the pier” photos. But don’t spend too much time there because the real beauty of this location is in the amusement park. It doesn’t have the most up to date rides and games. Some would even call it a little old. But when it comes to making beautiful and interesting photos, that is exactly why Keansburg is a great spot. 

It’s almost as if it got trapped in time around the 80s or 90s. Those who grew up then and now are raising kids of their own will feel right at home. The classic look will add a movie like quality to the images. A good photographer can use these elements as part of the portrait rather than just background. Get there as the sun goes down and the lights on the rides and games go on and you might end up with some unique and special family photos. 

Brother and sister playing boardwalk games during a family portrait
I am a huge advocate of candid photos when kids (and other family members) are just having fun and being themselves. They are the most authentic.

8. Turkey Swamp Park – Freehold, NJ

Turkey Swamp Park is one of those places I never heard of or thought to shoot at until I visited it and saw all the great locations. Turkey Swamp Park is 2,266 acres of wooded areas, trails, and playgrounds. There is also a 17-acre lake where you frequently find people boating and fishing. It’s the quintessential spot in central Monmouth County for a nature or park styled photoshoot. 

While it is a great place to have photos taken at any time of the year when the weather is nice, this place really stands out in the Fall. The combination of the lake and beautiful Fall colors can be a perfect setting for your family photos. Just make sure you have dressed appropriately. The reflections of the leaves on the lake just add to the magic. The many trails will let you find a secluded spot away from the crowds too.   

9. Manasquan Inlet – Manasquan, NJ

Since we live on the east coast, it can be hard to find a good place to see a stunning sunset. This is one of them. If you go to the Manasquan Inlet and head back inland along the inlet, you will discover Fisherman’s Cove Conservation Area.  Aside from being a cool park and a gathering place for dog owners, this is an amazing place to watch the sun set. Portrait and landscape photographers both love this place. 

Before the sun sets, make sure to visit the beach and get some photos along the jetty by the inlet. If the lifeguards have left you can use the downed lifeguard stand as a perfect prop to lean on.  If Manaquan is a little too calm for you, remember, Point Pleasant is just across the inlet. 

10. Point Pleasant Beach and Boardwalk – Point Pleasant, NJ

Heading south from many of the spots above into Ocean County and you’ll get to my favorite boardwalk, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ. Residents and out of town visitors all love this place, and it’s just an awesome location for family or individual portraits, I would be doing a disservice to you if I left it out!

Here are some of my family portrait sessions from Point Pleasant.

First, let’s talk about the beach. It has all the characteristics you would want on a beach for family or individual portraits. It has palm trees. These are not abundant in New Jersey, even at the Jersey Shore.  

Start out down by the inlet, just across from our previous location in Manasquan. If you are there on a weekend (which is when I do most of my shoots) then it will be less crowded over there. You can get some cool images near and around the palm trees. For the most part, they keep these palm trees in great condition considering this isn’t exactly a tropical climate.

Then head down to the water. Over by the inlet, there is a jetty that you can sit on. I like to have a family with older kids all sit on different rocks on the jetty and try to look cool. They either succeed in looking cool and it’s an epic photo or they all crack up from trying to look cool and its a beautiful family moment. Either way, it works. 

As you walk back towards Jenkinson’s, you can get some great photos with the pier and the bustling boardwalk in the background. Don’t end it there, though. Once back on the boardwalk, you have even more options. Point Pleasant is one of the iconic boardwalks in New Jersey, so don’t miss out on it. Everything from rides and games to arcades and ice cream stands are right there for the perfect summer vacation feel in your photos. You can even try to get some shots playing skee ball.

Talk to your photographer about getting some unique photos here. Whether you are a local or on vacation and want some professional photos to commemorate the occasion, the boardwalk is the perfect place for that family portrait. 

PRO TIP: Let the kids play some games and go on the rides, especially if you are there as the sunsets. A skilled photographer can make some amazing images with all the flashing lights and the looks of happiness and joy on your kid’s faces will be genuine rather than the forced, “Ok now everyone says cheese…”

Do you have a favorite portrait photo spot in Monmouth or Ocean County?  Let me know.