Phil Cantor Photography will capture the masterpiece that is your family.

Our memories are our most valuable possessions.

When my mother, Millie Cantor, passed away a few years ago, I felt lucky to have so many beautiful photographs of her with my family…memories that I had captured over the years. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any photographs of her with my father and my siblings from when we were younger and I found myself wishing they had gotten a family portrait taken back then.

It made me realize that there are two best times to get a family photo taken: 20 years ago…and right now.

Lisa Amato, Essex Fells, NJ“Phil has been photographing our kids for many years… in our home, for team sports and the high school yearbook. We are always amazed by how well Phil understands our kids and we love how creatively he captures the essence of our family.”

Lisa Amato, Essex Fells, NJ

Throughout this page you’ll see and hear from families in the New York/Northern New Jersey Metro Area.

5 Common myths, mistakes, and misconceptions about family portraits

Life’s busier and crazier than ever, and family life in particular seems to be happening at an ever-accelerating pace. The information that follows will help you navigate through the most common myths, mistakes and misconceptions about family portraits.

#1 All you need for a good photograph is a good camera – We don’t need a professional.

Incorrect! I didn’t become a photographer simply because I like to play with the cool cameras and technology. What drew me to photography was seeing the impact that a photograph could have on a person—how it could capture a moment or a relationship and make it last forever. That is why photographs become our most prized possessions…they are one of the few irreplaceable things in life.  Ask someone who’s experienced a house fire or flood and they always mention saving their family photographs as the priority…not the sofa or food processor.

I take pride in developing special relationships with my clients and I try to approach every photography session as if I was your good friend taking your picture. The lighting, the lenses, the camera specifications are only the tip of the iceberg— what really makes a photograph great is that each and every family member is comfortable, relaxed, and, most importantly, themselves.

Kathy McClearn“Phil made me feel very comfortable about getting our family together for a photo shoot. The portrait session itself was fun and easy. There was no stress and we all felt like movie stars and models! Professional portraits are something that every family should have and I hope to be back to his studio again and again.”

Kathy McClearn, Montclair, NJ

#2 Family portraits are boring and unnatural!

Wrong! Most people think of a professional family portrait as an uncomfortable and unnatural “say cheese” affair.

Imagine instead: your family gathered in your favorite room in the home or outside on the new deck you just built, or in a beautiful, creative photography studio— everyone is relaxed and themselves and having a great time. In the final photo, everyone looks the best they’ve ever looked and each individual’s personality shines through.

What is important is that you and your family feel totally comfortable in front of the camera!

Do you know anyone who feels totally comfortable in front of the camera? Nearly everyone I meet tells me the same thing: “I never look natural in pictures.” The last thing that you want from a family photo is for it to look too posed or fake. You’d be surprised by how many photographers think this is the proper way to do a family portrait. My 30 years of experience have led me to understand how to get the very best out of the people I photograph. I’m there for you throughout the whole process, from selecting the right clothing to selecting the final photo–and everything in between.

Claudia Gorman“I have thousands of pictures of my sixteen month old son, but almost none of him, my husband and I together. When that realization struck, we promptly made an appointment with Phil Cantor because he is the only person that we’d trust to document our memories. And the result was absolutely amazing! He truly captured the essence of our little family. We now have a wonderful keepsake and we certainly couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful result or effortless experience! Phil will be our photographer for life!”

Claudia Gorman, Springfield, NJ

#3 There’s no rush to get a portrait taken.

False! You know how things are: if you don’t call to chat about your family portrait, you will probably get swamped with other things, and forget all about it. Then, before you know it, a year – two years – five years have gone by. How different will your family be then?

These are precious times, and although things will change, this moment never has to slip from your fingers. If your life is half as crazy as mine is, year after year you find yourself frustrated at the things you wanted to do, and never got done. A family portrait is something you deserve and will keep forever.

Carol Apprendi“The three kids and I all truly enjoyed ourselves. We talked about it afterwards and couldn’t get over how much fun the experience was. It’s hard to find something all three kids enjoy doing – a college freshman, teenage boy, and a five year old. We haven’t had this much fun together in a long time!”

Carol Apprendi, Montclair, NJ

#4 There’s no one to help with making choices about clothing, makeup, hair, location, etc.

Incorrect! No matter who creates your photographs for you, you will need to make some decisions: what clothing should your family wear? Where should this photograph be created? How heavy should the makeup be? There are a number of things to think about and I will walk you through all of them personally. When you call, or come into the studio, we’ll chat briefly about the things you need to know and I’ll answer all your questions about how to prepare for a family portrait.

Ravi Sutar“I was worried that the kids might be antsy, but the photography session was fun and the results are fantastic.”

Ravi Sutar, Jersey City, NJ

#5 There’s no way to GUARANTEE that I will love my family portraits.

Wrong! Depending on who creates your family portrait, that is. Suppose you had a family portrait created, and your child didn’t look natural in it. The photograph was “okay,” but it didn’t turn out spectacular. Should you have to pay for it? Absolutely not! I believe strongly that no one should ever have to pay for a photograph that isn’t PERFECT. That’s why I am able to offer the following guarantee:

If your family doesn’t look the best they’ve ever looked together in your photographs –don’t pay me for them.

That’s my guarantee and personal promise to you. As far as I know, there’s no other photographer around that will make you this guarantee.

Nancy Han“Phil made everyone feel comfortable, instantly. He has a gentle approach that makes you feel at home, and not self-conscious at all. We had lots of laughs and it was a fun family experience! Beautiful mementos like these are truly priceless.”

Nancy Han, Montclair, NJ

If you are not thrilled with your photographs, I will do two things for you:

1st – At NO CHARGE, I will photograph your family again, and make sure that anything that wasn’t perfect is fixed.

2nd – If I am absolutely unable to thrill you – if I’m unable to create a photograph that you feel you will cherish forever, I will refund EVERY PENNY you invested in them. You don’t pay for your photographs unless you love them!

Just Call My Studio, and We’ll Chat.

The perfect family portrait is only one phone call away. Call me at 973-783-1065 (no cost, no obligation) or email me at

Phil Cantor is a professional family portrait photographer based in Essex County, New Jersey.