Professional Holiday Portraits in NYC: Photo Studios and Photographers for Families
If you're anything like me, you don't know your aperture from your autofocus. So the holiday season is the perfect time to commission a professional family portrait. Whether your picture ends up on your wall or on your holiday card (or both), sitting for a family photo session should be fun and reasonably affordable—let's face it, it's going to be a bit of a splurge unless you go to a department store.
The most stressful part about booking a family photo shoot? Figuring out where to start. There are so many photographers and portrait studios out there, especially in New York City. We've tried to help simplify your research by rounding up some of the best NYC spots specializing in child and family photography. We also included some department store options which, while less personalized, are also less expensive.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Sloboda Photography
Classic Kids Photography
1182 Lexington Avenue at 81st Street, 212-396-1160
This high-end Upper East Side portrait studio was founded by a former tax attorney (!), but you'd never think that by looking at the warm family photos. Classic Kids specializes in black-and-white portraiture and has locations in various U.S. cities, yet doesn't seem like some impersonal chain. Photo packages vary so call for pricing. The company plans to open a second NYC outpost on the Upper West Side in 2012.
442 Columbus Avenue between 81st and 82nd Streets, 212-362-1911
This Upper West Side studio offers a variety of backdrops, a designer dress-up wardrobe and props, customized playlists or an iPod dock for your own tunes to get you into the paparazzi spirit. Sessions are $200 for a 30- to 45-minute sitting, which includes online viewing of photos and professional re-touching. Printed photo packages start at $150, and your photos can also be put on handbags, iPad cases and laptop bags. Location shoots are also available for an additional $100.
Although this photography studio has closed, you'll find the same staff and no sitting fee at Big Apple Portraits, 143 West 72nd Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues, 212-600-4457
We're big fans of this colorful Upper West Side photography studio. PortraitBug offers high-end portraiture at inexpensive prices. There's no charge for the 30-minute sessions; you pay only for the prints you select. Photo packages start at $99.99 for one 8”x10”, two 5”x7”, two 4”x6” and a set of eight wallet-sized pics, and you get 10% off additional a la carte purchases. Due to the holiday rush, PortraitBug is also offering sittings at a second temporary East Side studio at Second Avenue at 56th Street. Get 50% off a portrait session and custom photo cards now.
Department Store Photography Studios
If the prices above make you want to break a camera, then consider the department store option. No, you won't be able to get candid, black-and-white shot, but you will get inexpensive professional photos. Plus most of these studios are offering holiday discounts and deals.
Babies R Us (Kiddie Kandids Portrait Studio)
Current offers include 26 one-pose portraits of various sizes (10”x13” to wallet-sized) for $7.99 plus a free photo shoot. This offer ends December 31.
JCPenney Portrait Studios
Various locations throughout New York and New Jersey.
Sitting fees are $9.99 per person. Discounts are available for military families, senior packages, new baby, and everyday portrait coupons. In addition, if you spend $100 or more at JCPenney during one visit through December 31, you receive a $50 coupon toward your photo purchase.
Sears Portrait Studio
More than two dozen locations in New York and New Jersey.
Currently offering free photo shoots ($14.99 value) and custom wall portrait ($29.98 value) plus extra 20% off. Offer ends December 31.
Target Portrait Studio
If you spend $100 or more at one of Target’s Portrait Studios (Queens Place, Elmhurst; various locations in New Jersey) during one visit before December 31, you'll receive a $50 Target Portrait Studio reward.
If you really want to splurge, you can go outside a studio and work with professional photographers who snap families in parks, the streets or in their homes. There are an overwhelming number of NYC shutterbugs offering family portraits. We've picked a few whose work we know personally and love, or ones who come highly recommended. All of their websites feature online galleries so you can browse their work before you book a session.
Sarah Sloboda Photography
We adore Sloboda's work (that's her gorgeous shot at the top). And we love the fact that she really knows how to use NYC as an evocative backdrop for one-of-a-kind family photos. Shoots are held on location in Manhattan or Brooklyn, or in your home. Sessions start at $250, and prints, digital files and photo discs with printed proofs are available for purchase after the shoot. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for scheduling and a more detailed price list.
Megan Staubitz Photography
Staubitz usually doesn't do poses; instead, she shoots families in locations familiar to them like their homes or nearby parks. That said, she does get creative for the holidays: She wrapped her son (safely) in Christmas lights for one holiday photo and can do the same with your kids. Sessions are $500 for one-child portraits, $600 for families of three and $700 for larger clans. All packages include image editing, online gallery for sharing with family and friends for 60 days, and a DVD of 50 high-resolution, fine-art images. Prints available for an additional fee. Staubitz is offering a $100 discount on all sessions booked before the new year.
This Brooklyn mom and photographer was trained as a set designer, which explains why her shots are so dramatic. She shoots families on location or in their homes during the day only, since she prefers using natural light. Sessions are $250 and include a pre-shoot consultation, a one-to two-hour shoot, post-production editing, an online gallery of the best images and one 8×10 print, with additional pictures available for a fee. Eliza also offers frames, canvas wraps, albums and cards.
Amanda Gentile Photography
Gentile wants her subjects to look comfortable and natural, which is why she photographs families in their homes, Prospect Park or, if preferred, in her Brooklyn studio. Shoots take place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and for the holidays, she even has some seasonal props available, like small Christmas trees, vintage Santa figures and tinsel. Sessions are $275 for a one-hour sitting, which includes approximately 100 high-resolution images on DVD, an online gallery and minor touch-ups.
Find lots of other seasonal fun in our Holiday Guide.