The Garden State is home to many beautiful places to capture everything from family portraits to senior portraits to business headshots. With so many wonderful spots within the Montclair area of Essex County and beyond, I decided to compile my all-time favorite locations to photograph in New Jersey:
The Oranges, NJ
There are many wonderful places in South Orange, East Orange, West Orange, and Orange to make great photographs. One of my favorite locations for family portraits as well as wedding portraits is the Eagle Rock Reservation. Aside from this natural haven, the Oranges are home to many great locations to hold a wedding party including the Highlawn Pavilion, Pleasantdale Chateau, The Manor, and the Wilshire Grand Hotel.
Glen Ridge, NJ
Glen Ridge is a quaint community measuring about 1.24 square miles that lies a few blocks away from the studio in Montclair. Nearby Brookdale Park with its sprawling fields, shady groves, and rose garden is a particularly pleasant location to capture outdoor photographs. Aside from this outdoor haven, the Glen Ridge Country Club is an excellent wedding venue for anyone looking to take over this private setting!
One of my favorite locations for family portraits in Verona is Verona Park with its green grasses and scenic lake, all designed by the Olmsted Brothers. I have also shot weddings at Our Lady of the Lake Church and along the Stone Park Ornamental Bridge.
“Phil has been photographing our kids for many years. 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
Nestled within Morris County, Madison offers a walkable downtown with ample architectural delights perfect for “urban” portraiture. Don’t miss the brick and mortar buildings along Madison’s main street that provide shaded alleyways ideal for modern headshots. Away from this promenade, those aiming for a more natural setting should seek Loantaka Brook Reservation. This strip of a park has meandering pathways, as well as a “duckpond” where whimsical weeping willows mingle with windswept reeds creating an excellent backdrop for natural light portraits.
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The Reeves Reeve Arboretum in Summit with its flourishing flowers and bountiful trees is a fantastic spot for photography sessions for both family portraits and engagement shoots. Speaking of engagments, a great location to hold a wedding reception around Summit is the Grand Summit Hotel as well as the Canoebrook Country Club with its spacious and admirable facilities.
Not only is this neighboring Montclair town the home of Holsten’s Brookdale Confectionary aka the final filming location of the Sopranos, Bloomfield boasts many superb locations for photography. Within its city limits lie both Brookdale Park with its trails and rose garden, as well as Clarks Pond, a local hotspot perfect for capturing portraits by its eponymous water body. In addition to these scenic locales, one of my favorite venues for weddings and events is Oakeside Mansion. If you’ve never been, give it a visit! It’s a cultural center that provides community-based programs from arts to horticulture!
Mindowaskin Park off Mountain Avenue in Westfield is a A 12.6 acre park with a play area, ice skating, Bandstand, Memorial Trees and gardens. I have also shot weddings in the Presbyterian Church in Westfield, which was founded in 1728 and is historically known as the Presbyterian Church in the West Fields of Elizabeth Town.
“I love everything. It looks amazing. I can’t figure out if my kids are exceptionally beautiful or if you are just exceptionally talented. I so appreciate the time and care you put into these portraits. I feel so lucky to have such beautiful images of my family. Thanks to you I have photos that capture who they are at specific moments in their lives. Whenever Johnny is challenging I just look at his laughing baby picture and I remember that kid is always in there somewhere!”
Christin Collins-Clark, Whiting, NJ
Cedar Grove, NJ
Northwest of Montclair, Cedar Grove offers ample charming spots for outdoor portraiture. Both Mills Reservation County Park and Hilltop Reservation provide woodland settings ideal for those seeking serene backdrops with a hint of magic. On top of these larger parks, Cedar Grove is also home to the Presby Iris Garden, a quaint and unique floral collection that would be an exceptional place for portraits. As for venues, The Grove is an obvious choice for those seeking an extravagant wedding celebration.
Twinney Pond Park with its abundance of Shaggy Birches, Pin Oaks, and Locust Trees is another gem of the Garden State, a perfect spot for snapping portraits. Among places to celebrate nuptials, the Woman’s Club of Ridgewood as well as the Ridgewood Country Club with its rolling golf courses and wonderful architecture are bot top-notch choices!
Just a stone’s throw from Montclair, Nutley is brimming with photographic opportunities! Thanks to the winding waters of the Third River, both Memorial Park and Yanticaw Park are idyllic spots for nature-themed portraits. Also within the bounds of this town, Mamma Vittoria is a classy venue for weddings, with its own on-site catering and banquet rooms ready for those dancing shoes.
Want to learn more? Give me a quick call at 973-783-1065 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Covering 2,110 acres, South Mountain Reservation is a fantastic nature reserve within the Essex County Park System, ideal for capturing all manner of portraiture, especially with natural light. Outside of this pristine park, I’ve ahd the pleasure of photographing weddings in the Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange, as well as the Grand Summit Hotel in nearby Summit.
Like Montclair, Livingston is yet another delightful town within Essex County. Home to both the Ritz Diner (made more famous thanks to Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on Food Network), and the Cedar Hill Country Club. This glamorous venue with its beautiful scenery and elegant ballroom is a photographer’s playground when it comes to wedding portraits.
With its series of picturesque stone bridges running over a stream, Memorial Park is another one of my preferred photography spots. In addition to this beautiful locale, a great location to hold a wedding party around Maplewood is the Maplewood Country Club, which has exquisite lamb chops, if you’re looking for something tasty to indulge in!
“I don’t like being photographed, but Phil was very patient with us, even when the children were less than cooperative! He was very skilled at finding the perfect location in our home, he was easy to work with and the results are beautiful.”
Lauren Sullivan, Maplewood, NJ
Berkeley Heights, NJ
Heading into Union County NJ, you’ll find Berkeley Heights. If you’re looking for a location for portraits or for landscape photography, be sure to give Watchung Reservation a visit. Miles of trails, hidden lakes, and even a deserted village await you in this vast park. Nearby to this natural haven, Trap Rock Restaurant & Brewery is a superb eatery chock-full of craft beer and tantalizing dishes to please any gourmand. Their private event space upstairs features a working fireplace – a great spot to capture fire lit portraits during an intimate wedding celebration.
With around 8 miles of pathways both paved and otherwise, Loanataka Brook Reservation is peppered with idyllic landscapes ideal for outdoor portraits. If you’re looking, instead, for a great location to hold a wedding party – The Madison Hotel as well as the Olde Mill Inn in neighboring Basking Ridge are both excellent options.
“Thank you for helping us capture beautiful memories of our first family vacation on the Jersey shore. The whole experience far exceeded our expectations and the pictures you took will forever hang in our home as a reminder of such an unforgettable time.”
Melissa and Michael Bailey, Chatham, NJ
New Providence, NJ
Located along the Passaic River in northwestern Union County lies New Providence. Within this borough, outdoor enthusiasts, birders, and photographers alike will enjoy the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. This plentiful preserve is a haven for migratory birds, rare vegetation, as well as wildlife. Any aspiring wildlife photographer would benefit visiting this New Jersey gem. Venturing away from the Great Swamp, anyone visiting New Providence should give Jose’s Mexican Cantina a try. This casual eatery will not disappoint those seeking a bit of heat with dinner!
Essex Fells, NJ
The Highlawn Pavilion in Eagle Rock Reservation offers sprawling views of the New York City skyline creating the perfect backdrop for family and wedding portraits. Other exquisite options for tying the know near Essex Fells include the Pleasantdale Chateau, The Manor, and the Wilshire Grand Hotel.
Ah Hoboken, the 6th borough of New York City…at least it should be! This tiny metropolis is condensed within a 2-square mile area, and has a growing population of over 50,000 residents. Known for its walkable downtown and waterfront, as well as being the birthplace of Frank Sinatra, Hoboken is brimming with both scenery and history. The various Pier Parks located along the city’s waterfront offer plentiful views of downtown Manhattan and, therefore, excellent backdrops for portraits! Just be sure to photograph later in the day for softer light.
The Caldwells, NJ
Within North Caldwell, West Caldwell, and Caldwell, one of my personal favorite locations for family portraits is the grounds of the Grover Cleveland homestead in downtown Caldwell. Also, in West Caldwell, I love going to Curtis Park for different kinds of kids photography and wedding photography. If you’re searching for wedding reception venues with plentiful photographic opportunities, check out the Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell.
“We felt so comfortable with you and you made everyone at the reception feel at ease. All of our guests LOVED you! Some of our friends got chills when they saw the shots you took. We cannot describe how happy we were to have you there, but we can say we have never heard of a couple hugging their photographer goodbye… until now. Aside from the marriage itself, you were definitely one of the best choices we made.”
Sarah and Allen Barnett, West Caldwell, NJ
Jersey City, NJ
In recent years, Jersey City has been transforming into one of the more trendy cities in New Jersey. Located just south of Hoboken and across the Hudson River from Manhattan, Jersey City has become a desirable location to live for kids fresh out of college and families alike. With over 30 miles of waterfront, this city is a rather scenic place for portraiture. Van Vorst Park and Hamilton Park are both surrounded by brownstones and are wonderful parks to explore photographically. Don’t miss the Historic Downtown, home to many cultural attractions like the Jersey City Museum and the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Powerhouse which they potentially plan to restore and revamp into a new space for art and retail.
Have any favorite spots of your own to photograph? Share them on my Facebook Page!