Creating Heirloom Photos of Your Family
What are the best NYC photo spots for family portraits? This is a question I get asked a lot, and the answer isn’t so simple. I started photographing kids in NYC when I moved there in 2002. Over the years, I’ve developed different location preferences for different reasons. Depending on your family’s size, kids’ ages, and other factors, I might recommend one spot over another.
For instance, closer to home is usually better for little kids. Long subway or taxi rides can use up a lot of energy before the photo shoot even begins. Plus, having grown up in a city myself (Cleveland!), I can attest to wanting a record of the things I saw all the time in my neighborhood as a kid.
Best NYC Photo Spots for Family Portraits
That said, I’m always up for an adventure. I moved out of NYC in 2011, so it’s fun for me to see what’s new. Plus, every child is different. So if you know your kid comes to life when there’s water to play with, we should meet at a splash pad. If they love trains, let’s meet at a spot in Brooklyn or Queens where the subway goes above ground.
The parks in NYC are gorgeous, an easy place to meet, and generally have amenities nearby like coffee and restrooms. That said, Central Park can be a tricky one, depending on where you’re coming from – deep into the park, or a place far from your part of town can add a lot of time and energy spent just getting to the spot. It’s important to gauge your family’s likely energy level and consider what traffic and subway service are like on the weekends, if you’re planning a weekend photo shoot.
Where Would Your Family Like to Go?
Having photographed hundreds of families all over New York City, it would be hard for me to name a favorite spot. Instead, I like to come up with suggestions for new spots – places I haven’t worked before, haven’t shot in awhile, want to capture a new take on, or that I think would be perfectly suited to your family. Some places I’d like to try next are Governor’s Island, Roosevelt Island (shots on the tram, and with the tram in the backdrop!), and the new park at the Domino Sugar factory.
All that said, NYC is just the most amazing place to shoot. I’ve moved sessions around because of cold and wind and ended up getting magical Sea Glass Carousel shots, and switched to an indoor location because of rain and got shots inside the Oculus before it was full of people. So, it’s great to be flexible because as unpredictable as the weather can be, using New York City as a backdrop is predictably awesome, wherever we end up.
How to Plan Your Family Photo Session
If you’re ready to plan your family photo shoot, the first things to consider are as follows:
- What’s cool that’s close to home for you?
- What time would be ideal for your kids’ (and your!) energy levels, and can you book your session at that time? Or, what time is your session and where will your kids’ energy levels be at that time?
- Is there anything special about your environs you’re hoping to capture? It’s great if you can describe the essence of it — there might be more than one location that embodies it.
I’m happy to help talk you through these questions. Please feel free to drop me a line to get the conversation started, or just to say hi.
Full disclosure: I love a bit of improvisation. When I lived in New York, I used to go to gigs of all my jazz musician friends and attentively watch their approach to music. I even tried an improv comedy workshop once. I might have a specific shot in mind before a shoot, but if get to the location that day and find the light is all wrong for it, that doesn’t worry me because the ideas was just a jumping off point. I like to incorporate what’s coming together with the light, the background, and everyone’s moods that day. So, come as you are, and let’s make some awesome photos together.
If you’d like to check dates on my next NYC visit, please click here.