travel

My Favorite Photoshoot Spots in Massachusetts/Rhode Island

If you live in the Massachusetts/Rhode Island area, you know that it’s hard to find places to shoot with clients or friends.

Besides the weather being unpredictable, many of the parks in this area look the same, which makes getting unique photographs quite difficult. Today, I’ve put together a list of a few of my favorite places to have a photoshoot in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Borderland State Park, Easton, MA

Not only is this park beautiful, but it’s also huge. Borderland State Park was the private estate owned by the Ames, a biologist and artist duo. This park includes a mansion, cabin, and multiple trails for hiking. There’s a large lake very close to the entrance, as well. This is a great place to spend the day, but it also provides many different places to shoot. I recommend it in both the summer and winter because, unlike many places in New England, it actually looks like a winter wonderland when it’s snow-covered. There’s a $5 parking fee but it’s truly worth it for the size of the park!

Fort Wetherill, Jamestown, RI

If you want a place that has a balance of industrial and natural views, Fort Wetherill is perfect. This abandoned fort is graffiti-covered and overlooks the water, both making great backdrops for a portrait session. If you find your way behind the fort, there are many trails that lead down to the rocky waters below. You can shoot inside the fort in one of its various rooms, but there is no lighting inside, so make sure to bring a flash or a portable strobe. There is a toll on the way to the park, so keep some cash on you!

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA

For years, you couldn't bring a camera into the Isabella Stewart for privacy reasons. Recently, the museum has changed it's policy and photography is allowed in the museum! How lucky we are because this building is beautiful and has a lot of great spots for portraits. The museum features a botanical garden in the center of the building, as well as three floors of art. The garden is off-limits and you can't walk through it, but it makes for an incredible background and the light is gorgeous. The floors that contain art are very dark and flash isn't allowed, so I wouldn't recommend trying to get any shots in there. However, there is a hidden feature of this museum: the greenhouse! There is a greenhouse right next to the entrance of the building and it's open for visitors and photographers. I took Sarah there for a shoot last year and it was very successful. The plants make great objects to interact and pose with.

Fort Revere, Hull, MA

Hull is a small town near Hingham, Massachusetts and it’s right on a peninsula, which is great for picture-taking! Fort Revere is up on a large hill and, like Fort Wetherill, it’s an abandoned military fort. However, along with the fort is a huge graveyard and views that show the whole northwest of Massachusetts. I went here on a rainy day and I was still having an amazing time photographing. There’s a lot to explore here and I believe you can go up into the tower during the summer! (I haven't been there yet, but World’s End State Park in Hingham is very close to Fort Revere and it’s a favorite location of my peers.)

Brenton Point State Park, Newport, RI

This has to be my favorite spot in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Located along the coast of Rhode Island, Brenton Point is the last stop on the infamous Newport Mansions drive. The park itself is very plain and usually has hundreds of kites flying above it, but it’s the little hidden gems that make this place special. If you cross over the road onto the rocks on the coastline, there are little coves and private beaches that make the perfect spots for a session. In the summer, the rocks turn beautiful shades of purple and blue. To the right of the park, there is an abandoned stable that has been overrun by graffiti artists and Mother Nature. The stable has skylights that are still in tact, so light is limited but it’s still there! It’s a great spot to go to if you want to see downtown Newport, but still experience the beaches and ocean.

Blue Hills State Park, Canton/Milton, MA

Last but definitely not least is Blue Hills. Located quite close to Boston, Blue Hills is the best place for hiking trails. Be sure to put some hiking boots on because this park is literally a hill; most of the trails lead uphill to a gorgeous view. There are a lot of attractions here: a wildlife reservation, abandoned ski-lift, medieval towers, and an observatory at the very top. Although it's a hike, every attraction is worth it. You can see the city of Boston throughout the trip up the hill and there are many spots to stop at. I've been here multiple times and each time is new. I'd highly recommend this spot for any type of photography excursion. 

I’m always discovering new places to go to in New England, so this list is in no way finished. I recommend using Google Maps and locating the green areas, which indicate state parks or reservations. That’s how I find most of the places I shoot at! I’d also check out Only in Your State, which publishes lists of unique sightseeing spots in each state.

Have fun exploring!

Surviving the Drive

The question I get asked the most is, “How do you handle commuting to class every day?”

A bit of background: I live 50+ miles away from my college and I’m enrolled as a full-time student. What this means is that I had two choices: live in Boston or commute. Boston is one of the cities with the biggest living expenses in the United States. In an economic study, it was determined that a person must make $17/hr at a full-time job MINIMUM in order to afford a basic-living apartment in Boston. I definitely couldn’t meet that while attending college full-time. I tried to balance a couple small jobs by only working weekends, but it gave me no time to be creative or finish assignments, so I had to make an executive decision to live solely off of scholarship money. I don’t recommend this for everyone. If you can balance homework, a job, and college classes, then absolutely go for it! I wanted to focus on my studies and I was lucky enough to have a sustainable amount of money to go off of.

Now, to the advice stuff! If you’re like me, you’re going to be spending up to 5 hours in the car per day. It doesn’t seem like much, but it can start making you go crazy. You’re stuck with your own thoughts and nowhere to escape to, especially if there’s traffic. So what can you do? Here’s what I do when I’m stuck in traffic or have a long drive ahead of me.

Come Prepared

It’s EXTREMELY important that you remember to bring the same essentials that you would need for a road trip. It may sound obvious, but forgetting a snack or the AUX cord to your car can seriously ruin your day. I always make sure I have the following with me: a water bottle, a couple snacks, a phone charger, chapstick, ibuprofen, a backup water to leave in the car, sunglasses, and my phone. It’s easy to forget these important items when you have to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn, so pack your bag the night before you leave with this list in mind. 

Find a Podcast or Audiobook

The first year I commuted, I thought I’d be fine just listening to music. But, even for an avid music lover like me, listening to music first thing in the morning can get repetitive and start your day wrong. It’s relaxing to listen to a podcast or an audiobook because it can take your mind off of the driving ahead of you. Podcasts through iTunes are free and there are thousands to choose from. Some of my favorites are Off Topic, Heroes & Halfwits, Serial, Song Exploder, and Coffee with Chrachel. Podcasts make it feel like there’s someone else in the car with you and that makes the ride a little bit easier. I personally haven’t tried audiobooks with my commute, but that’s because I have had a lot of podcasts to catch up on, but the idea is similar. Find a book and dive in, it’ll make the time fly!

Always Be Cautious

One thing I learned the hard way is that commuting means there will be good drivers AND bad drivers. I average 1-2 accidents a year and not one has been my fault. There’s nothing you can do to prevent this, but being prepared will make any situation easier. Always have your car/s documentation on you, as well as your license and a smile. Remember, if it’s not your fault, you’ll most likely get insurance money. Getting money makes a good day.

Prepare Yourself Financially

One common misconception is that commuting is cheap. Whether you’re driving or taking the train, there are little costs that add up. Figure out how much it’ll cost you monthly to commute and see how much it costs to park at your school/work. If you’re going to college in the city, it’ll be pricey but remember that you could be spending $2k a month on a studio apartment. TIP: If you’re taking the train, avoid buying tickets before boarding the train. When the train gets too full, staff won’t check tickets and you can get a free ride.

You may want to lose your mind once you start, but commuting isn’t that bad. Just remember, there’s thousands of other people that have to do it, too. You’re not alone!

Have a nice ride!