Family Portrait Sessions are so much fun! You get to get dressed up and look good, spend meaningful time together as a family, play in a park, and hang out with a photographer who’s going to make you laugh and have your kids hug and kiss you all day! Yay!

These photos are going to hang on your walls for years and years, so of course you want to have them taken in a beautiful location. Choosing the perfect spot can be difficult because there are so many great ones out there and so many factors to consider. In an effort to help you out, I’ve made a list of my top 3 places in Central NJ to shoot a session. Here goes…


My favorite locations for family portraits:

  1. Sayen Gardens
  2. Princeton Battlefield
  3. Colonial Park and the D&R Canal (connected)


Why are these my favorite? Because within each of these parks there is:

  • a variety of beautiful backgrounds to shoot in for a more dynamic session,
  • they look great in every season,
  • they allow pets, and
  • there are no distractions like a bright shiny playground in the distance to steal your children’s attention away from you and the family.


Sayen Gardens


This park is located in Hamilton, NJ and is just fantastic! The more I go, the more I fall in love with it because of it’s versatility for a portrait session. Literally any family can find a place within this park that matches their style. Parts of it look like a fairy tale with winding, manicured pathways through flowering trees and azalea bushes, up hills and into hidden gazebos. If you walk into the back of the park there are woods with a hiking path for more nature-esque portraits and fun. Throughout the park itself are ponds, fountains, rivers and bridges for a background to a classic portrait. There are tall evergreens to lay under, large fields to run in, boulders to sit on, and so many other features that would make a family session here not only beautiful but FUN. 

Heather Palecek Best of 2019

Heather Palecek Best of 2019


Heather Palecek Best of 2019


Princeton Battlefield

You may be thinking, “That HUGE field with the columns in it?! What’s so special about that?” Trust me – this location is hiding a lot of it’s natural beauty out of sight and away from the road. {I do love that giant field though!!}


This location also offers an old white building that makes an excellent rustic backdrop. And in addition to that there’s a walking path lined in trees that looks gorgeous in every season. This particular park is not as versatile as the other two, but if you’re going for a woodsy look in your family portraits, this is the place to go!



maternity session floral dress




Colonial Park and the D&R Canal


These locations are connected for a double whammy of awesome-ness! Colonial Park itself (the park I like to shoot in) is full of gardens and paved walkways, old barns and gazebos, large fields, and woodsy areas. Literally a little something for everyone. 


If you continue to walk through the park to the back you’ll come to a wooden bridge that brings you to the D&R Canal Pathway which you could walk for miles on in either direction. This pathway is lined with trees and looks exceptional in the fall with the colorful leaves. 




So there you have it – those are my three favorite Central NJ spots. I hope this post was helpful to you in picking out a location!