The best places to take wedding, engagement and family photos on Long Island

By Ian J. StarkSpecial for Newsday

Long Islanders looking to take family portraits or outdoor photos to mark special occasions should know they’re in good company. Local photographers say that even amid the pandemic, impactful photoshoots remain important. Luckily, Nassau and Suffolk counties have several scenic spots to do just that.

“People still really want to celebrate these days, but the way they do it now is very unique,” ​​says John Salkowsky, 54, of Massapequa, owner of the Silverfox Studios-based wedding photography and videography company. Lindenhurst.

Photographer Tara Stephens, 35, of Islip Terrace says she has received “so many daily requests from families looking to document this crazy time we are all going through. Many families will mention wanting to have photos now more than ever at because of this virus.”

Photographer Tara Stephens photographs the Stellwagen family at Robert Moses Beach on August 19. 1 credit

Whether it’s an engagement, wedding, marriage proposal, anniversary, or family event, here are some scenic outdoor spots for photo ops. Keep in mind that permits and appointments may be required to shoot at these properties.

NASSAU

Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park

Exterior view of Camellia House in Planting Fields Arboretum in...

Exterior view of Camellia House in Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

A former Gold Coast estate, Planting Fields offers a pair of greenhouses and beautiful architecture, including Coe Hall, a structure meant to appear like an English mansion, for photo ops. A pair looking for a pretty backdrop can find gardens and greens aplenty. You will need a permit from the NYS Parks office for photography. Outdoor wedding photography costs $200, while general outdoor photography usually costs $100. Camellia House wedding or general photography is $300; available from April to November. (1395 Plantation Fields Road, Oyster Bay; 516-922-8678, plantingfields.org)

Jones Beach State Park

A couple captured by a professional photographer at Silverfox Studiosoff...

A couple captured by a professional photographer at Silverfox Studiosoff the fishing pier at Field Ten of Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh. Credit: Silverfox Studios

Land on its promenade or on its sandy shore, both picturesque. Oh, and there’s a little thing called the Atlantic Ocean that laps and crashes 24 hours a day. NYS Parks permit required. (2400 Ocean Pkwy., Wantagh; 516-785-1600, parks.ny.gov)

Long Beach

A couple in wedding attire pose for a photo...

A couple in wedding attire pose for a photo on the Long Beach boardwalk. Credit: Ian J. Stark

Stroll along the Long Beach boardwalk and try to snap a photo at sunset. Wedding and special occasion photos don’t require a permit, but before you venture out to the beach, you’ll want to contact the town’s events office at 516-705-7415 to arrange the date, time and the place.

Clark Botanical Garden

A beautiful pocket of horticulture, Clark is a space where cultivated plants and flowers create a serene scene. Permits are required from the North Hempstead Town Clerk’s Office. (193 IU Willets Rd., Albertson; 516-484-2208, clarkbotanic.org)

Sands Point Reserve

At Sands Point Reserve, Castle Gould (pictured) has...

Within the Sands Point Reserve, Castle Gould (pictured) has been a Long Island landmark since it was built in 1902. The former estate-turned-Gold Coast park is hosting its 2020 Earth Day celebration online . 1 credit

A former estate turned county park, your jaw may drop if you’ve never seen the huge castle-like mansions that stand here – but other photo-friendly aspects include over 200 acres of trails, gardens , open green spaces and a freshwater pond. Permits are required; $350 for exterior photography (locations must be approved in advance). For photo ops inside the historic Hempstead House, a $450 permit is required. Check the website for more details and rules. (127 Middle Neck Road, Sands Point; 516-571-7901, sandspointpreserveconservancy.org)

Eisenhower Park

Celebrating couples can use the Veterans Memorial or Administration Building Garden for photos, and permits are required for any photo shoot; check the website or call 516-571-3168 for more details. (Entrance at Stewart and Merrick Avenues; Hempstead Turnpike and East Meadow Avenue; 516-572-0347, nassaucountyny.gov)

Nassau County Museum of Art

A wedding is underway at the Nassau County Museum...

A wedding is underway at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor. Credit: Yu Lin Photography

The grounds include a sculpture park and a large garden. Professional photo or videography sessions require a permit and are only permitted outdoors. Permits start at $175.00 for up to two hours; overtime is $50 per hour. (1 Museum Dr., Roslyn Harbour; 516-484-9338, nassaumuseum.org)

SUFFOLK

Montauk Lighthouse

Montauk Lighthouse grounds and museum are open...

The Montauk Lighthouse grounds and museum are open again, but the tower remains off limits due to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Ian J. Stark

The lighthouse itself is a striking icon, but it’s also surrounded by green lawn and sits on a rocky beach with incredible ocean views – and if you’re lucky enough to take pictures at sunset, the headlight can take on a nice orange glow. Photography is by appointment only; call to make arrangements. (2000 Montauk Hwy., Montauk; 631-668-2544, montauklighthouse.com)

Long Island Aquarium

Photos can be taken with penguins or sea lions, inside the butterfly garden, near the indoor waterfall or in the shark tunnel. Flash photography is fine, but not video lights. Call ahead to make arrangements. Everyone must pay an admission fee ($35, 3-12 years old: $23, 62 and over: $26). Full celebratory photography sessions involving animals are $250; the sea lion encounter photo shoot is $150; the aquarium staff takes the photos, masks are mandatory. The aquarium reserves the right to reschedule sessions if the animal chooses not to participate. (431 E. Main St., Riverhead; 631-208-9200 (ext. 426), longislandaquarium.com)

Argyle Park

If you’ve walked through Babylon Village regularly, you’ve probably spotted a wedding party using this location as a backdrop, where man-made waterfalls gurgle beneath a tree-lined walkway. To take pictures, you will need to request a permit from the village; no photography is permitted in the Memorial Garden. Village residents pay no fee, while non-residents pay $100. (188-180 W. Main St., Babylon; 631-669-1500, villageofbabylonny.gov)

Robert Moses State Park

A couple captured by a professional photographer from Silverfox Studios walk...

A couple captured by a professional photographer from Silverfox Studios walk in Field Five at Robert Moses State Park in Babylon. Credit: Silverfox Studios

Your posing options are plentiful here, where backdrops include the shoreline, Fire Island Lighthouse, boardwalk, and surrounding greenery; NYS Parks permits are required for photos. (600 Robert Moses State Pkwy., Babylon; 631-669-0449, parks.ny.gov)

Shadmoor State Park

Like much of Montauk, ocean access is a feature here, as are beach plants, bays, and cliffs that lead down to the beach. Nature abounds, but the presence of humanity is evident when you encounter a pair of disused military bunkers. Permits are required for photos. (900 Montauk Hwy., Montauk; 631-668-3781, parks.ny.gov)

Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium

The Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium of Suffolk County in Centerport offers...

The Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium of Suffolk County in Centerport offers couples the chance to get married on what was once a Gold Coast estate. Credit: Janelle Brooke Photography

The Gold Coast Estate and Mansion, once the luxurious home of William K. Vanderbilt II, is a property with ornate architecture and manicured gardens. Interior photography is prohibited, but exterior photography is permitted with a permit; call 631-854-5568 to make advance arrangements and for current rates. (180 Little Neck Road, Centerport; 631-854-5579, vanderbiltmuseum.org)

Oheka Castle

Oheka Castle in Huntington is a popular venue for weddings;...

Oheka Castle in Huntington is a popular venue for weddings; several celebrities have been married there. Credit: Brett Matthews Photography

A popular place to get married, this hotel and estate is home to a real castle and large garden areas. Personal photo shoots can be arranged for a fee (wedding photos are not permitted on the same day as a wedding at Oheka). Personal photo shoots start at $2,500 for two people; the permit includes a licensed photographer. Call 631-659-1301 or email [email protected] for more information. (135 W. Gate Dr., Huntington; 631-659-1400, oheka.com)

Fire Island Lighthouse

Photographer Mike Cassara takes engagement photos for 27-year-old Grace Murray...

Photographer Mike Cassara takes engagement photos for Grace Murray, 27, and Chris Agapite, 27, of Greenlawn at the Fire Island Lighthouse on August 25. 1 credit

Part of the Fire Island National Seashore, the 168ft lighthouse is a stunning site, and like the rest of the barrier island it sits on, there are water views, nearby beaches and a low vegetation at every turn. Call the Office of Park Special Uses and Business Services at 631-687-4758 to ensure your photographic plans are acceptable. (1 Burma Rd., Bay Shore; 631-661-4876, fireislandlighthouse.com)

Peconic River Herb Farm

Although it is primarily a plant nursery, there are also acres of green space and greenhouses worth exploring. Between its weather-worn buildings and horticultural amenities, it’s a known spot for attracting photographers. Commercial shoots can be booked for $40 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and after hours until 7 p.m. for $80; anyone wishing to shoot should call 631-369-0058 to prepay and secure a spot. Personal photos are free. (2749 River Rd., Calverton; 631-369-0058, prherbfarm.com)

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