Dance Portrait Photography At The Grounds For Sculpture | Hamilton, NJ

I recently had the privilege of creating portraits for a very talented young dancer at an amazing location. It has been one of my favorite portrait shoots to date. 

The Location | Grounds For Sculpture

This was my first time photographing at The Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ. It has to be one of the best locations I have ever photographed.

In addition to the incredible setting, the staff there was equally incredible. Like most places, they have rules about having professional photography but they were pretty reasonable. On top of that, the staff member at the front desk was a great resource of information and helped guide us to some great spots among their 40 acres. Without their help, we wouldn’t have been able to create some of these images you’ll see below. 

Dance photos at the Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ

As photographers, I think we have a responsibility to be respectful of the locations we shoot at. Whether it is a private or public location, it’s important that we find out if there are guidelines for shooting there and that when we do hold a photo session, we leave the spot in the same condition as we found it. If we all did that, then more places will be as awesome and cooperative as the staff at Grounds For Sculpture were. 

The Talented Dancer

Portrait session at the Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ

Sophia is a ballet dancer at the Central NJ Ballet Theater. Her and her mom wanted to create some photos to capture her love of dance and also create some lasting memories of this time in her life as she pursues her passion. 

All of my portrait shoots include a planning session where we talk about what the client wants to get out of the shoot, what their passions are, and what they want to portray in the photos from the shoot. Sophia wanted to make sure we captured her love of dance and how much fun it is for her. 

So we decided that there would be a mix of more carefully posed images and relaxed fun images of her having fun. 

One of my favorite images from the session was also one of the first ones we did. you can see it right at the top of this page. It’s the one of her jumping along a bridge that is part of the sculpture called The Nine Muses. It represents the nine muses of classical mythology who presided over the arts and sciences. Perfect setting to demonstrate her art. 

I’ve shot action portraits like this before and it usually take a lot of trial and error until you get it right.  That wasn’t the case as Sophia nailed it on the very first take! Ok, so maybe I’ll take a tiny bit of credit for timing the shot (there were flashes involved so I couldn’t just hold down the shutter for rapid-fire and hope), but leaping over a water bridge with form like that and remembering to turn towards the light was impressive on her first attempt! 

After that we explored as much of the rest of the grounds as we could before the sun went down. 

We visited a lake with a built-in fog machine. We took some photos of her crossing the Monet Bridge, an iconic work at the Grounds. As the sun went down, we even did some cool silhouette images. Sophia and her mom had a lot of fun and the photos turned out great. 

She certainly has a successful career ahead of her and I am happy that I played a small role in helping her capture the memories of this time in her life as it is just getting started. 

Long Branch Beach | Family Portrait Photography

Long Branch, NJ is one of the coolest beach towns on the Jersey Shore. As a NJ family portrait photographer, I’m always looking for great spots for bringing clients for photo sessions. 

It has some incredible spots for family photography as well. My favorite part about shooting a family portrait in Long Branch is the variety of locations you can find there. There is the excitement and energy of Pier Village and not too far away there are some quiet less crowded beaches.

As the sun goes down there are lights and restaurants that can make for interesting photos but if you get up early for sunrise, the photos convey a sense of calm and beauty. 

Here are some of my favorite spots for Long Branch family photos along with some of my images from those locations.

Pier Village

Pier Village in Long Branch is a unique beachfront spot in New Jersey, especially for family photos.

The pavilion at the center of it all is a common location for wedding portraits but it works great for family photos as well. We may have to work around the huge crowds that show up to this waterfront destination on the weekends when the weather is warm, but the results are well worth the effort. 

Seven President’s Beach

The beach itself also lends itself to some unique and distinct spots for family portraits. The area down by the water tends to be quite flat and the resulting tide pools can work great for kids to play in and create some fun reflections. They also have a great jetty that is perfectly situated as a backdrop or even a place for you to sit on for the photos. 

Moving off the water a little bit and you’ll find some dunes that are great for a relaxed looking family portrait sitting in the sand. The dunes are pretty high so you can have the sunset in the background without getting any of those ugly buildings in the background. Finding a good sunset spot on the East Coast can be a little tricky at times!

North End Beach

This is one of the quieter less crowded locations in Long Branch that I have had the pleasure to photograph. There’s not much going on here and that is why I like it.

Your family portrait here will bring the focus more on you and your family and the interactions you have together. The beach is less crowded which makes for great shots looking up or down the coastline. I also enjoy posing family next to (and sometimes on) the lifeguard stands. 

On a good day, we’ll get some beautiful colors in the sky that add that extra touch to make your photos special. 

You can learn more about the town of Long Branch from their official website HERE

Point Pleasant Beach | Family Portrait Photography

As a family portrait photographer, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ is one of my favorite places to shoot family portrait sessions.

NJ Monthly called it one of the 20 Best Beaches in New Jersey!

Every year I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to shoot family portraits for a number of great families at this beautiful beach.

The best part about shooting at Point Pleasant beach from the photographer perspective is the number of unique places that we can find just within a few blocks. 

If you live in this area, the beach is probably a huge part of your life. I know while I was growing up, it was where I wanted to be as much as possible. So for a lot of families, the Point Pleasant is a meaningful spot. It conjures up memories of childhood, family vacations, fun, excitement, maybe romance, and a lot of other great experiences. 

In addition to all that shore history, Point Pleasant is a spot I love as a photographer. There is so many options.

Of course, the beach itself is great. There are natural rock jetties to pose on, a great pier by Jenkinsons for a backdrop, and fireworks at night if you’re looking for something more unique.

It’s also one of the few beaches in NJ that maintains palm trees right on the beach itself! 

But the beach isn’t all that Point Pleasant has to offer for great family photos. 

The Boardwalk

I love shooting family photos on the boardwalk. Whether your kids are young or old, they probably love the boardwalk. Games, rides, arcades…all great locations for fun portraits that are often overlooked by many photographers that just go for the same old posed shots. That’s not my style at all. 

I want to make sure we capture the real emotion, excitement, and personality of the kids (and the adults too). You may not realize it at first, but your most treasured photos hanging on your wall will be the ones you never planned. Places like the boardwalk, the games, and the arcade are perfect places to have some fun, maybe win a big stuffed animal, and create some great images to decorate your home for many years. 

Sunset Views at The Inlet

One of the underrated parts of shooting at Point Pleasant Beach is the sunset views by the inlet. 

We’re on the east coast here and no one likes getting up early for sunrise, especially if the whole family is involved! So sunset views aren’t easy to come by. But if you catch it at the right time, you can get some beautiful sunsets by the inlet. 

In addition to the great views, there are always boats headed out to the ocean and back in again. If the timing is right you can incorporate one of the cooler-looking boats into your photos. 

Jersey Shore Beach Photography

Who doesn’t love the Jersey Shore?

As a NJ family photographer…shooting portrait sessions at the beach are among my favorite.

Every summer I get the opportunity to shoot family and individual portraits at the amazing Jersey Shore beaches. 

My Jersey Shore Beach Photography Sessions

Jersey shore Photography portrait at point pleasant boardwalk
The pure joy of winning a prize at the boardwalk games.

I shoot a number of beach sessions every year and we always have a great time whether it’s on the sand, in the water, or even playing games on the boardwalk. 

So I wanted to write this post and let everyone know all about them. 

Beach sessions are by far my most popular and book up quickly. 

The best times to shoot at the beach are right before sunset or just at sunrise. Those are the times when light is just right to make everyone look their best. 

Since getting the whole family up before the sunrise is pretty much impossible, the sunset time slots are certainly the most sought after.

Any beach with a boardwalk is perfect for a family portrait. Even after the sun goes down, there are plenty of incredible photo opportunities. We can spend some time playing boardwalk games. We can hang out inside the arcade and get some cool action shots playing skeeball. We can even get on the rides and try some creative photos with all the boardwalk lights. 

The beach is also perfect for larger groups or big families. There is always enough room for everyone. 

What Makes Jersey Shore Photography Unique

There are a lot of things that make a beach portrait unique. The setting itself is almost always beautiful, but there are some difficulties. 

The weather conditions are usually more extreme near the ocean. If it’s windy at home, you an be there will be a lot of wind at the beach. With the wind comes sand and mist off the ocean which can really affect both you and the camera itself. There’s nothing worse than finishing a portrait session and then finding out your photographer’s lens was covered in mist spraying off the ocean!

Light is another important concern. The beach is very different from a photography studio. It’s important for your photographer to understand the light and know how to make it better. Natural light can look great but it is not dependable. I make sure to always have multiple flashes available (yes even out there on the sand) so that a dull sky doesn’t result in dull photos. 

If you want your family portrait at the beach, it is important to have a photographer that has experience with beach photography.

Just because the conditions are tough doesn’t mean you should settle for average photos.

Jersey shore photography displayed as wall art
Wall art from your beach photos is the perfect addition to any home.

I’ve done a lot of beach sessions. When done right, a family photo at the beach is something that you’ll want hanging in your home for years. 

Beach Photos Should Be Fun!

The key to great beach photos is to have fun. No one ever goes to the beach and doesn’t have fun! So when I bring clients to the beach for their photos, we have fun. Especially with kids, if everyone isn’t enjoying themselves, then the pictures will show it. But if they are having fun, then we are going to capture authentic emotion. 

The Jersey Shore beaches have always been special places to me growing up and it is the same for many families whether they are locals or come down here on summer vacation. So my goal is to give my clients a photography experience at the beach that leaves them with great memories as well as beautiful photos to hang on their walls. 

It’s also important to dress appropriately for the beach. Remember that the sand is all one color, so if your clothes are the same color, we might lose you in the photo! Don’t be afraid to add a little color to your wardrobe to stand out. Check out my What To Wear Guide for some more tips on that. 

Capture What Makes You and Your Family Unique

Authenticity is important to me. I want to capture a family’s real personality. If you want a couple more formal posed shots, no problem, we can do that too and make it look great. But we are going to have some fun too. I’ll get those candid moments in between shots too. Those always tend to be the favorites. 

If you liked this post about my annual beach sessions or know someone that is looking for a jersey shore photographer, use the social media buttons below and share with friends.  Thanks!

If you would like to chat about having your own custom-designed and planned family portrait session on the beach, use the form below to get in touch…