Have you only visited Governors Island in the summer? As I found out this week, this little spate of land is perfect all year round. In today’s blog post, I’ll be sharing with you Amanda’s pet portraits on Governors Island to try and convince you that a ferry ride in winter is the perfect getaway from the Manhattan crowds.
Pet Portraits on Governors Island – Basic Photo Tips for Governors Island
Governors Island is what I consider a ‘next level New Yorker’ destination. If you’re in the know, then you know that Governors Island offers some of the best views of the Manhattan skyline, plus it’s in swimming distance to the Statue of Liberty.
I have covered the island several times on this blog and have lots of articles letting you know the best spots for photos. My best basic tips are as follows:
- Start at Outlook Hill and work your way towards the ferry.
- The best places to take photos include Outlook Hill, the Oval, Hammock Grove, Admiral’s Row, and along the waterfront on the way to the ferry.
- Check the Governors Island website to make sure you haven’t scheduled your photo shoot during any big events where crowds swarm the island in its entirety.
- Be prepared for no shade.
- Know the ferry schedule, and try to schedule your session either in the morning or late afternoon to get as close as possible to ‘golden hour.’
Pet Portraits on Governors Island – Basic Photo Tips for Pets
I have also written recently about pet portraits to help you put your best paw forward in front of the camera. When photographing furry friends, these are my top tips:
- Make sure your pet is ready for a photo session out in public. Some animals are too scared or distracted with strangers (both humans and other pets) around.
- Bring a wrangler to help handle your pet, especially if you want photos without your pet.
- Bring everything you need to make your pet comfortable, including snacks, a water dish, toys, and an attractive leash.
- Know your pet’s limits and plan to have some downtime for your pet if it gets to be too much.
Meet Amanda, Puff, and Teddy
So with all of this information at hand, how did Amanda’s session go? Absolutely fantastic. First, let me introduce you to Amanda – a recent transplant from Texas who wanted to have some special photos for her holiday card. Taking photos with her ‘boys’ – Pomeranians Puff (six years old) and Teddy (2 years old) – is a Christmas tradition that Amanda brought with her from the Lone Star State. Amanda definitely wanted to stay away from any tried-and-true NYC locations, so she opted for a ferry ride to Governors Island.
Governors Island in Winter
I had taken a trip to Governors Island the week prior to Amanda’s session since I was not familiar with the island in winter. From my Instagram post you can see that the island looks much the same except for the lack of foliage and the fact that the island was so devoid of visitors.
As such, Governors Island has become my number one recommendation for winter portrait locations because the crowd levels are so low. While everyone is swarming Rockefeller Center and Times Square, by contrast Governors Island offers the best view of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty with no crowds in sight. Aside from the families who were visiting the small ice rink around Admiral’s Row, Amanda, her dog sitter Taylor and I had the entire island to ourselves.
Winter Dog Days on Governors Island
While pets are allowed on Governors Island every day of the week in the summer, there are special rules for pets in the winter. The Governors Island website calls it their ‘winter dog days,’ and here are the rules:
- Dogs are only allowed on Governors Island on Saturdays and Sundays during this winter season program. In accordance with NY State law, only service dogs are allowed on Governors Island other days and times.
- Dogs must remain on a leash, including while on Trust for Governors Island operated ferries.
- Dogs and their owners must ride in one of the outdoor sections of the ferry.
- No extra tickets or reservations are required for dogs on Trust for Governors Island operated ferries.
- Dogs are allowed to come over to Governors Island up until 3pm on Saturdays. Dogs that arrive before 3pm may remain on the Island until it closes. Dogs will not be allowed on Trust-operated Governors Island ferries after 3pm.
- Dogs are currently not allowed in indoor spaces on Governors Island.
- Dogs are only allowed off-leash in the designated dog park between Collective Retreats and Liggett Terrace. All dogs and their humans must adhere to the posted dog park rules (click here to view).
- Dogs must keep out of landscaped and planted areas.
- You must pick up after your dog and place all dog waste in the landfill bins located around the Island — we’ll have bags available, but please bring your own just in case.
My Photo Shoot with Amanda
Our plan of attack for the photo shoot was as follows: take the 2:00 p.m. ferry so that we could meet on the island at 2:15 p.m. The best light on Governors Island at that time started on Admiral’s Row. We met on the pathway leading to the ice rink and took photos in this area before making the trek to Outlook Hill. This way we avoided the harsh midday light on Outlook Hill and instead hit it perfectly at golden hour.
We captured the stunning view of the NYC skyline on Outlook Hill and then made our way back down to the Oval. Here we took photos in front of the Statue of Liberty and let the dogs play in the grass. I think these were the best photos of the day. We ended the day with photos of Amanda, Puff, and Teddy sitting on the Adirondack chairs. Note that during the summer these chairs are rarely available. In winter, however, we had our choice of seating.
The photo shoot ended at 3:45 p.m. and we then made our way back to the ferry in time for the last boat back to Manhattan at 4:15 p.m.
A Few Final Pet Portrait Tips
A few things to note about Amanda’s photo shoot for all of you pet parents out there. First, Puff and Teddy were wonderfully behaved. Indeed, they performed better in front of the camera and had gentler temperaments than many human children I have photographed. Amanda did bring a wrangler with her. Taylor was helpful and made sure that snacks and leashes were conveniently at hand. She also was in charge of the squeak toy I brought with me to get Puff and Teddy’s attention. Finally, Puff and Teddy were seasoned pros in front of the camera, but more importantly, they were very used to wearing outfits for the camera. I always recommend that if you plan to have your pet wear something for a photo shoot, then make sure the pet is used to the garment beforehand.
Enjoy the rest of the images, and I’ll have more photo adventures for you next week!
Interested in scheduling your own fur-family portrait session? Drop me a line and let’s talk about your photography needs.
If you would like to see more images from my family portrait portfolio, then please visit my website – KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com