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.

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

Parking

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.

Lifestyle Photography | Capture A Day In The Life Of Your Family

Lifestyle photography is a kind of portrait photography where I’ll join your family for a fun activity and capture candid moments that your family shares together. 

I encourage all my clients to try a lifestyle photography session at least once. The results usually have them coming back for more. 

There are some real benefits to having a session like this, especially if you have family portraits done regularly.

NJ lifestyle shoot at the boardwalk
The pure joy of winning a prize at the boardwalk.

They are unique. Even when you change up the location every year, the photos tend to have a lot of similarities. You are still documenting your family’s growth over the years which I highly encourage, but they start to look a little same-y. A lifestyle shoot is always unique.

You’ll preserve real moments and emotions. Even for a more classic family portrait shoot, I encourage families to plan some activities. Especially with younger children, that really brings out authentic reactions, real emotions, and true personality. Even adults are usually pleasantly surprised at the authenticity of how they look in the photos compared to posed shots.

They are easy. I enjoy planning out a styled shoot, setting up professional lighting, creating a theme, and giving my clients something truly epic. But that take time and can get costly depending on what you have in mind. A lifestyle session is all about being real, doing something fun that your family would do anyway, and capturing the moments. You’ll have amazing photos without much planning needed.

Lifestyle Shoot Ideas In New Jersey

  • A day at the beach
  • A night at the boardwalk
  • Apple picking
  • Excitement at an amusement park
  • Sunday brunch at home
  • Family game night
  • Hiking at the park

Who Is A Lifestyle Shoot For?

Honestly, every family should try a lifestyle shoot at least once. But here are some examples of when it’s a really good fit. 

Families with younger kids. If you are always telling your kids to sit down, look at the camera or having to bribe them to sit still and cooperate, then a lifestyle session is perfect. Just let them be themselves and have fun and I’ll be there to capture the moment. 

Families that are active together. Does your family go hiking, play sports, go to the boardwalk, or even have game night at home? You may not realize it but those are the moment you are going to cherish years from now. Think about having a small album to look back and enjoy those ordinary moments that have become extraordinary memories. 

Families that get portraits done every year. Having great images every year to tell your family’s story is something you’ll never regret. Having some of those images be about a unique experience that you and your family had together is something you’ll never forget.

Do you think a lifestyle shoot may be a good fit? 

Cake Smash Photography | 1st Birthday Photo Session

A little kid with easy access to an entire cake is always a fun time for everyone involved!

If you are looking for a cake smash photographer in NJ, I can help.

This little guy was one year old when he got to dig into his cake. 

When I get the occasion to be a cake smash photographer for a family, it’s exciting. Let’s face it, the kid is going to put on a show and it’s my job to capture that. The initial uncertainty, testing the boundaries a little by just touching the cake, and then finally the unbridled joy when they realize no one is stopping them from diving in headfirst. These sessions are always photography gold. 

But my favorite part of being able to capture a cake smash is helping families preserve these fleeting moments in their child’s life before they grow up. 

Whether you want to do the cake smash in the middle of a birthday party like the one above or set up a custom individual portrait session, I’ll walk you through designing the shoot exactly the way you envision it. No pre-made backgrounds that are the same for everyone.

You’ll get a bespoke photography experience tailored to your creative vision.

Whether it’s in the form of a canvas, a cluster of metal prints, or a beautiful album showing your little one as they tear through the cake, I want to help you create family heirloom pieces that you can use to decorate your home and pass them down to future generations. 

PRO TIP: Invest in a high quality cake smash wall art piece and it will still be in amazing condition to hang up at your child’s wedding so you can really embarrass them!

Capture The Season With Holiday Family Photos

What better way to capture the feeling and memories of the holiday season than with Christmas or holiday-themed family portraits?

You don’t even have to wait until the end of the year to have holiday photos taken. In fact, if you want to use them in your Christmas or holiday cards then Summer or Fall is the perfect time to take holiday photos. 

Christmas Tree Photos

For many families, heading out to pick a Christmas tree is an exciting and fun adventure. Documenting it with professionally shot photos can preserve those memories for many years to come. 

Too frequently, someone in the family ends up being the photographer. By the time you get home and everyone looks at the photos, you realize that they aren’t in any of the photos. As far as the photos show, they weren’t even there. Having someone there to document the event might be worth it for that reason alone. Add in the high-quality images and skill with proper lighting and now you’ll have incredible images with the whole family in it that you will be happy to display on your wall!

After a few years of documenting your Christmas tree search, you can even create an album or image collage showing how your family has grown over the years. 

But the tree photos don’t have to stop there. Once you get it all decorated, it can be a great place for taking portraits right in your home…

Home Holiday Photos

Taking photos in your home that show off the beauty of your lights and decorations is a great way to capture the holiday spirit.

But getting properly exposed holiday lights as well as properly lighting any people’s faces in the image can be tricky! But that’s where a skilled photographer will excel. 

One of the best things about having your holiday photo shoot in your home is that no one else is going to have photos just like yours. It’s not a studio set that 100 families are sitting in for photos. It is uniquely your own and evokes memories of years of family experiences during the holiday season. 

Remember though, there are only so many days available when your decorations are all up and looking great, so make sure you book early to reserve your spot. 

On Location Holiday Themed Photos

This is a great way to get two kinds of family photos at one session. Plan a regular family portrait session and bring some props or outfit change to make a few of the photos holiday themed. Whether you’re having your family portrait in a park with Fall colors or even in the middle of the Summer on the beach, it doesn’t take much to add a little holiday flair to your portrait session. 

I’m always happy to work with families to make the most out of their family sessions. So adding an extra theme to the shoot is just about always allowed.