I think it’s safe to say that fall is a favorite season amongst many photographers. The amazing colors and beautiful fall traditions are just begging to be photographed. If you are looking for some inspiration for your fall photography you have come to the right place. I’m going to share with you all my favorite tips for taking your best fall photos yet!
EMBRACE THE COLORS
Of course my first tip has to be about the colors! Fall is a unique and very fleeting time of year when we get to see an amazing display of rapidly changing foliage. But I’m not just talking about the leaves! Some of you may live in an area where you don’t experience the foliage change and that’s ok.
There are other ways to embrace the colors of the fall season. Think pumpkins, apples, and cozy sweaters and scarves. These are all things that you can incorporate into your fall photographs that will still give you glorious autumn colors.
PHOTOGRAPH FALL TRADITIONS
There are so many lovely fall traditions that you can photograph. Maybe you have children that head back to school in the fall. I always love the early morning shots of children waiting for the school bus. The sunlight is gorgeous and their breath hangs in the frosty morning air.
OR maybe you take an annual trip to the local pumpkin patch, or spend a day in the orchard picking apples, or carve pumpkins, or go trick or treating. I think you get my drift! There are tons of fall related activities you can take advantage of in your photography.
And don’t forget all the wonderful traditional fall baking. Fall seems to bring out the baker in everyone and you can totally use this in your photography. At our house we are always baking muffins, pumpkin bread, pies, cookies and all kinds of fall themed treats. And they make for great photography.
Start photographing the fall traditions that you are already doing with your family or friends. Not only do they make for wonderful and very colorful photographs, but you are capturing precious memories. And isn’t that what photography is all about?
If you don’t have children maybe you still go pick apples or carve pumpkins? Or maybe you pull out that favorite sweater, or make a hot cup of your favorite spiced apple tea. Maybe you go hiking and can capture the changing colors. Or you want to capture the first fall frost. Think of your fall rituals and use them in your fall photography.
I have already talked a lot about pumpkins and apples and all things fall that you can use in your photography. Think of your fall props as details that tell a story. What comes to mind for most of us when we think about fall? For me the first thing is COZY. Any prop that you can use to convey that warm, cozy feeling of fall is going to help your viewer connect with your image.
Let’s say you are taking a shot of a nice, warm cup of steaming tea in your hand. Why don’t you add some nice fluffy socks on your feet in the background, or a colorful blanket in your lap. Do you see what I am getting at? All those extra details and props help to tell your story of fall.
And finally focus on warm colors. Warm colors, as opposed to cooler colors, are going to really help evoke that cozy fall feeling in your viewer and help them connect more deeply with your image.
CAPTURE THE DETAILS
This leads perfectly into my next tip which is capture the details. Yes it’s wonderful to get those sweeping landscape shots and to capture the colors of the changing foliage. But fall photography is so much more than just the trees. Maybe you focus on one beautiful leaf floating in a puddle. Or photograph your child with a handful of acorns or a pinecone. Yes the leaves are magnificent and we love them, but let’s not let them overwhelm us and forget the little things about fall we love too.
GET OUT AND PLAY IN IT
Don’t just photograph fall from a distance, go out and play in it. Get your subject to jump in the leaves, throw them in the air, roll in them. These make for some of the best fall photographs. Not only are the leaves amazing in the photograph, but so is the look of joy on the person who is playing in them. I mean, have you ever seen someone, child or adult, jumping in leaves who isn’t happy? It’s a double whammy!
THE PERFECT FALL OUTFIT
You know you have that favorite sweater, hat, scarf, pair of boots that you just can’t wait to pull out once you get a whiff of fall in the air. Well here is a tip for putting together fall outfits that PHOTOGRAPH well. Whenever I am shooting a subject in the fall it can be helpful to dress them in colors that compliment but do not match the fall colors.
If your subject is wearing an orange dress and the leaves in the background are orange then she is going to blend into the background and get lost in the image. It will be hard for the viewer’s eye to focus on the subject. (If you want to know more about how to dress for the best photos you can read all about it in my post here). However, if you dress her in blue, she is going to stand out from the background, but the colors will still go well together.
CAPTURE THE FALL HOLIDAYS
This is a step beyond just capturing fall traditions. There is so much to be photographed just around the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas (clearly not it FALL) are probably the most photographed holidays of the year. There are so many details to capture…making the pies, the turkey, cranberry sauce, setting the table. I mean the list goes on and on.
Not only are there physical details to be capture but there is so much emotion to capture as well. Family greeting each other after being apart for most the year. Children sitting in their grandparent’s laps. The family gathered around the table. Playing football in the backyard. There are so many photographable fall moments just around this one holiday. The options are endless.
And I haven’t even mentioned Halloween yet! Halloween is another fall holiday with so many different photo options. Costumes, Jack o lanterns, trick or treating, the candy haul. I could go on and on. I think by now you get my point. There is sooo much to photograph in Fall!
My final tip for fall photography is to be particularly aware of your light. Sunset is always a favorite time for photographers, but I find it is particularly important in the fall. You want to be sure that you are shooting in light that will enhance the brilliant fall colors. Shooting in bright midday light is going to wash out a lot of your fall colors. Harsh sunlight washes out (or blows out) the color, soft light enhances it. A bright red leaf is not going to look as colorful in harsh midday light as it would in soft evening light.
The next time you pick up your camera try and be particularly aware of the colors and details that define fall for you. So there you have it! My favorite tips for mastering fall photography.
- Embrace the Colors
- Photograph Fall Traditions
- Use Fall Props
- Capture the Fall Details
- Get Out and Play in Fall
- The Perfect Fall Outfit
- Capture the Fall Holidays
- Be Aware of the Light
Bring these tips along with you on your next fall photoshoot and watch your photography improve. I can’t tell you how much I wish I had known these tricks when I first started shooting. Best of luck to you and your photography!
P.S. I’m participating in a super fun blog circle this month with some of my photography friends. Check out my friend Michele’s blog post Family Photography Sessions. It’s all about fun ideas for family photo sessions!
Ruth Young is a professional, portrait photographer and photography educator located in Culpeper, Virginia. She photographs her daily life with her 5 small children and has a passion for teaching photography. For more about Ruth follow her on Instagram where she posts daily.