seven Fall Portrait Photography Guidelines (for Outstanding Results)

7 Fall Portrait Photography Ideas (for Outstanding Results)

fall portrait photography tips

Autumn provides professional photographers with an abundance of colors and amazing light, which is why fall months is one of the best seasons just for portrait picture taking . It offers up marvelous, moody, and even nostalgic photos like this one:

girl on a log in the fall

But while fall portrait photography can look amazing, capturing the best shots is not always easy. Yes, fall backgrounds look awesome and fall light is spectacular, but you shouldn’t just purpose your camera and expect the best.

In this post, I’ll share my top fall photography portrait guidelines. And by the time you’ve completed, you’ll be able to create stunning images like a pro.

Sound great? Let’s dive right within.

1 . Prepare your equipment and check the weather conditions

leaves changing color

Preparation is the key to any successful capture – fall portrait sessions included.

Of course , ensuring your digital camera batteries are charged, your own memory cards are crystal clear, and your lenses are thoroughly clean seems like a no-brainer, but it’s often the fundamentals that we overlook.

Pro tip: When eradicating cards, double check that you have down loaded everything, then use the in-camera Format function to clear your images . Don’t delete photos through your computer – otherwise, a person risk card-writing issues down the line.

Also, be sure you check the weather. In many areas of the world, the weather can change rapidly, so it pays to stay educated. If you’re doing a paid session, you may have to schedule far beforehand and you’ll simply have to enjoy a bad weather day – but if your fall portrait photoshoot is more informal, keeping an eye on the elements can make a big difference. At the very least, it’ll keep you from venturing away into the cold only to find that your session gets rained away within minutes.

By the way, if you and your subject/model are up for it, fall months portraits in the rain can look beautiful . But you’ll need to protect your equipment (try a simple rain cover) and make sure you wear a coat.

a misty autumn portrait

2 . Get out when the light is best

Light could make or break a drop portrait, so this tip is certainly critical . You can shoot autumn pictures on overcast days, especially if you’re after a moody, nostalgic look. However , I personally prefer the warm light of dawn and sunset.

Now, dragging your loved ones out of bed for a photoshoot is always going to be tough, so I recommend skipping the particular morning light; instead, aim to start your shoot about an hour before sunset. The low sunlight will be flattering, plus you can find a beautiful sunset to include in the background (or to use for fun autumn silhouettes).

By the way, make sure you look up sunset times for your local area prior to scheduling a shoot. You may be surprised to realize how early it gets dark, and also you want at least a good hr of shooting before the sun goes down.

a few. Choose the right clothing

Make sure everyone dresses properly. It’s getting colder, and if everyone stays warm – including both the model and the photographer! – you will have one less thing to worry about.

Also, it may seem lovely and comfy outside, but believe myself: it gets cold quite quick when the sun starts to go down. And advise your own subject to bring a change of clothing. It can be wet and muddy, and you certainly do not want to end the session with an accidental tumble.

As for clothing colors and visual : In the fall, getting this right can make a big difference to your images. Ask your subject to wear natural shades that will either blend in or complement the colors from the leaves and trees. For the photo below, my boy wore a dark red cardigan, as we knew the area experienced very vivid reds within the trees:

boy wearing a purple-red sweater

My daughter wore black and white, which is a timeless combination that will blends in well. Also, my son wore the gray hood that proved helpful well with my daughter’s clothes.

If you carry out have multiple subjects, try to avoid clashing patterns or even colors. Discuss clothing options in advance, and consider coming up with a color scheme that everybody can follow.

Also, avoid t-shirts or sweatshirts that have dominant trademarks. These can be very distracting, plus they can date a picture.

Again, ensure there is one (or more) changes of clothing available. This will not only offer variety in your images, yet will also prepare you to cope with any accidents in the damp and possibly muddy conditions.

4. Choose your location wisely

Within autumn, you want to find the best colors and textures available, which regularly means heading to a botanical garden or a beautiful forest. Pay attention to the foliage, and feel free to check out a foliage predictor map; certain areas, based on their elevation and latitude, will turn before other people, and the more fall color, the better.

Also, note that fall conditions can transform really quickly. Leaves turn over a couple of days, and it often will not happen until later than you think (which is where the fall foliage map is available in handy! ). You also have to check that the leaves continue to be present (a heavy wind flow can take them down overnight, so if you find a good place to take, don’t dawdle! ).

For my most recent shoot, I searched on the web for arboretums, which often feature collections of interesting trees like this one:

Japanese maple colors

One more quick tip: Make use of social media for location tags to see what other people have photographed over the last few days (at or even near the same location). Instagram, Twitter, and even Trip Advisor work well. You may find a great place that you would never have got considered otherwise.

5. Use the right aperture (and settings)

In fall portrait photography, your ISO should remain low to prevent noise, as well as your shutter quickness should sit at 1/125s and over (I consider 1/60s to become my absolute minimum, supposing my lens or digital camera doesn’t include image stabilization).

But it is your aperture that can really make a difference. We highly recommend you experiment with various apertures; that way, you can produce beautiful blurry backgrounds , as well as experience that emphasize the color and texture of the leaves.

To get an extremely blurry background, set your own aperture to its largest option (i. e., the best number, such as f/4, f/2. 8, f/1. 8, etc . ). For me, this is usually f/2. 8, though with all the kit lens that comes with your camera, you should be able to take at around f/5. Here is the type of effect you can expect having a wide aperture:

girl with blurry background using an f/2.8 shutter speed

If you want greater description in the leaves, try focusing on your subject but growing the aperture to f/8:

girl fall portrait f/8 aperture

And if you want everything in focus, from the subject in the foreground to the leaves in the background, you can increase the aperture to f/16 or even f/22. Be cautious when shooting at f/22, though; your shutter quickness will be significantly lower therefore you’ll probably need to increase your ISO, plus you’ll get image softening due to diffraction.

girl autumn portrait f/22

I usually shoot in RAW , as it allows me that extra flexibility when editing. With contemporary cameras, JPEGs are very versatile, but I still recommend you capture RAW data files if possible (some cameras allow you to capture a RAW plus JPEG at the same time, which is a good option if you’re attached to JPEGs).

As for your camera’s White Stability setting : You can always depart it on Auto, yet I like to use Cloudy White-colored Balance for fall pictures. It warms up the colours, and while you can always adjust afterwards if you shoot in UNCOOKED, it’s helpful to get an accurate preview of the final result.

6. Aim to catch emotions and natural huge smiles

The best family portrait photos tend to look natural , which requires natural poses , but also organic expression .

Now, when it comes to stimulating natural expressions, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. For adults, I generally recommend you get your subject comfortable in advance by talking with them, asking them about their life, etc . You can also try making them have a good laugh, though this can be tough, or you can give them something to do (e. g., play the violin) and photograph them as soon as they’re fully engaged.

For children, you may use props, you can tell jokes, or you can ask them to run towards you as fast as they can. You could also ask the parents for suggestions, as they know their children greatest!

For the image below, I questioned my children to laugh hysterically for no reason at all. This looked ridiculous, but as they calmed lower, the smiles were a lot more natural.

kids laughing hysterically during photo shoot

If you’re photographing more than one kid, ask one to tell the other a secret. This will generally get them giggling:

Another suggestion: If you’re photographing just one kid, ask them to tell you about a subject they love. My son will certainly talk for hours about everything Star Wars or Wonder. And I can ask our daughter her math questions for a range of reactions.

Basically, do anything to distract the kids or obtain a reaction – then prepare yourself with your camera to catch the moment.

seven. Enhance the colors in modifying

The best fall portraits – including my very own! – go through some sort of editing process. Now, the modifying program you use doesn’t really matter; Lightroom is great, being Adobe Camera Raw, Catch One, Luminar AI, ON1 Photo RAW. Even totally free programs such as RawTherapee can fit the bill.

And you don’t need to be an expert publisher to make your fall portraits shine. For the photos in this article, I actually kept the editing quite simple; aside from some little exposure and contrast tweaks, I went to the HSL panel in Adobe Camera Raw and saturated the Reds, Greens and Yellows. This really brought some extra punch to the images:

before and after editing fall portrait

Of course , modifying is mostly about personal choice, so feel free to experiment like crazy. I do recommend you increase the colors a little bit, if possible; this way, you can emphasize those beautiful fall hues.

Fall portrait photography guidelines: final words

Well, there you have it:

7 enjoyable tips to enhance your autumn pictures. The next time you’re out shooting, try a tip or two – I guarantee you’ll see some great results!

Now over to you:

Which of these tips do you like best? Do you have any fall portrait photography tips of your own? Reveal them in the comments below!







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Sean Gannon

Sean Gannon

possesses Headshots UK , which specialises in corporate headshot photography over the UK. He works with large corporate clients, photographs countless colleagues, and works with professional individuals, to create headshots use with print, as well as their own internet sites, and of course social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter. With national coverage, Headshots UK have a network of photographers to capture business portraits where ever their clients are centered.

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