As many couples have experienced during the pandemic, Katherine and Anuj’s wedding day was postponed to next year. But to keep the date alive in 2020, they decided to have a photo shoot on the day they would have originally walked down the aisle. And where better to set such a romantic photo shoot? No better location then their own backyard of Forest Hills, Queens, of course. In today’s blog post I have all the details from their Forest Hills engagement shoot, including a list of where you should go and things to consider before you step in front of the camera.
Meet Katherine and Anuj
Anuj and Katherine met in college many years ago, and are planning to (finally) tie the knot next year in China. The couple has a strong connection to the Forest Hills community. Katherine grew up in the neighborhood, and the couple now live a few blocks down in Kew Gardens (my neighbor!). In particular, Katherine and Anuj love the old world architecture and beautiful green surroundings of the neighborhood, so it was a natural fit to take a stroll through Forest Hills for their Labor Day engagement shoot.
LIRR Train Station
We started off the photo shoot at one of the neighborhood’s most iconic landmarks, the Long Island Railroad train station. Built in 1910, this beautiful building is the centerpiece of the Forest Hills community square. The tracks are built overhead of the square, and the stairs leading up to the platform have the added benefit of giving just the right height for photos looking down on the main courtyard. I used the main platform to take photos of Katherine and Anuj walking across the courtyard so it looked like they had the entire place to themselves. You would never know there were crowds of people on either side of the frame.
The reverse shot is equally interesting. We switched places and I put Katherine and Anuj on the platform while I was shooting from the perspective of the courtyard to get a balcony affect shot.
You have a few other background options at the train station that we did not take advantage of during our shoot. First of all, I’m a huge fan of the train blur effect with a couple standing still mid-embrace. This shot is definitely possible on the LIRR platform: simply time your shoot to coincide with the next train arrival or departure.
Light through the windows of the waiting area is also a beautiful shot. Furthermore, the quaint little vestibule at the base of the building would be a lovely photo. Unfortunately, the vestibule is often crowded with people waiting for their train, but if you get there early on a weekday you might find it empty.
From the train station, I recommend that you next head down to Greenway Terrace and Kleiner Gardens Park. This is the closest green spot in the neighborhood. Hawthorne Park, a private park located at the corner of Burns Street and Borage Place, is also a possibility. Note, however, that this Hawthorne Park is looking pretty sad right now. For some reason the ground is almost bare with hardly any grass growing. In my opinion, you can find a better park-like background at Greenway Terrace.
Nannies and children are almost always covering the narrow strip of grass of Greenway Terrace, and the benches are usually taken over by local residents. There are some lovely trees and bushes, however, that are well lit and worth your time. In addition, this wide street is surrounded by beautiful Tudor-style homes. You have everything from ancient looking gates that look like something fit for a haunted mansion to quaint little wooden gates, all of which look like they fell from England.
There are covered walkways along Greenway Terrace in the center square that make for some great photos using light through the columns. For a long time this area was under construction, but it is scaffolding-free at the moment. Archway Place offers a great opportunity for backlit shots, and the sunset light here during ‘golden hour’ is absolutely stunning.
Proceeding on down Archway Place is a beautiful home with a vibrant red door at (corner of Archway Place and Continental Avenue). This pretty little house has a long line of flowers in pots that is a colorful backdrop.
Forest Hills Inn Apartments
To me, it wouldn’t be a Forest Hills photo shoot without a shot in front of the Forest Hills Inn Apartments building. This is my dream apartment building that I would love to live in someday. I think we ticked off a few residents by sitting on their steps a tad too long, but the entryway to the building is beautiful and we simply couldn’t resist the shot. It’s the perfect spot to test out your dance moves.
After a stop in front of the apartment building, you circle back to the main cobblestone courtyard. Late in the day past ‘golden hour’ is the best time to take photos here. Any earlier and you will have too much overhead glare from the sun. There are always some precious little patches of flowers growing right in the center of the courtyard. However, note that this area is often crowded with locals, so pack your patience for this portion of the shoot. Also, traffic is always heavy here so watch out for oncoming cars.
Other Photo Shoot Locations Nearby
If you want to add more locations to your shoot, I have a few recommendations. Katherine and Anuj wanted to escape from any signs of the city, but if you’re into more of an industrial look, I say try the murals underneath the Forest Hills Long Island Railroad bridge. You have a choice of the Ramones on one side of the bridge or tennis legends Arthur Ashe and Billie Jean King on the other. You also have the fantastic Ridgewood bank at the corner of Queens Boulevard and 108th Street. This art deco building has a large sidewalk in front perfect for dance photos.
Tips for your Forest Hills Engagement Shoot
As far as tips and tricks for the area goes, this is a very residential neighborhood. During the weekday hours of 9 to 5 you will have the whole place to yourself. But on the weekends and in the evening, expect Forest Hills to be crowded. Once you get out of the Forest Hills town center, there’s not that much to see and do, so I recommend sticking to the quaint little cobblestone streets. Also, don’t annoy the locals. (My apologies again to the residents of the Forest Hills Inn Apartments.)
Enjoy the photos and drop me a line if you are a neighbor looking to set up a photo shoot in Forest Hills!
If you would like to see more photos from my engagement portfolio, then please visit my website – KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com