5 Tips for Capturing the Colors of Fall in Your Outdoor Portraits

posted in: Photography | 2

This year the signs are pointing to an early — and hard — winter. We had autumn leaves on our deck today, we’ve seen deer with antlers earlier than usual, and my friend reported that up north the trees are already sporting fall colors. This winter may come early and with a vengeance.

That being said, let’s talk fall colors. Outdoor portraits look fantastic when you have the vibrant fall colors on display. I love doing family portraits, senior portraits, and the like outdoors in fall.

So, if you’d like to plan for a portrait session outdoors this fall, make sure to contact me well ahead of time so we can plan and accommodate for the autumn leaves that will likely come — and fall — earlier than usual.

5 Tips for Fall Portraits

1. Earlier is better.

If you’re worried about the leaves falling quickly, it’s better to get your outdoor portrait taken when the fall colors are just starting to fill in.  If you wait too long, you’ll get the tail end of fall, and your setting may not have many leaves on the trees still.

2. Scout out your location.

Even within a five mile radius, the onset of autumn can vary, depending on how well the trees are sheltered or how much they are exposed to the elements.  Plus, the type of tree matters — different kinds of trees will change colors and lose their leaves at different rates.

3. Make a backup plan.

While you can prepare for most scenarios, it is always good to have a backup plan.  Be flexible, just in case you need to make on-the-fly changes.  I’ve changed locations at the last minute, and even changed appointment dates to work around the weather (or in this case, the leaves).

4. Dress appropriately, and bring a sweater.

The weather can change so quickly during autumn.  Sometimes we have been ok in short sleeves, other times a light sweater is not enough.  So, be prepared — and remember that the wind can make it seem much colder than you might anticipate.

5. There’s always next year.

Life happens, and sometimes capturing that moment you had envisioned ….well, it just doesn’t work out exactly as you wanted.  But that’s ok.  We do the best we can to ensure success, and then go with the flow.  Seasons come and go incessantly.  There will be more fall colors next year — if you miss out this year you can always try again come next fall.

Some Inspiration…

Now, for some past client portraits, taken during the fall.  I figure this will help get those creative gears turning, get you inspired and excited for fall to come (even though you might not be ready for it yet).

Family portraits like this one below are always gorgeous, but even more so in the fall.  There’s just something transient and ethereal about fall colors, don’t you think?

portrait family photographer dexter michigan - fall

And of course, senior portraits have just a little added warmth when taken in fall.  This scene would have been gorgeous with full greenery in the foliage, but by waiting for the leaves to turn golden, it has a little more interest.  There are leaves already falling, they rest on the steps, on the path, and you can enjoy the full range of greens to golden oranges in the setting.  We actually planned this senior portrait specifically to capture the autumn leaves at this location.  Our timing was impeccable.

bphotoart-portrait-420 - fall

And another senior portrait taken during the fall, after the leaves had started to turn colors.  This one was taken at my client’s home, so the setting was important and meaningful.  The fact that autumn is a transitional season, that it doesn’t last very long, also adds another layer of meaning into senior portraits, don’t you think?  Senior year is a time of transition, towards independence and adulthood — becoming your own person.

bphotoart-portrait-246 - fall

And one final senior portrait.  We spent a good twenty minutes searching for fall colors that would photograph well — sometimes scheduling constraints keep us from planning the “perfect” fall portrait session.  But, imperfect is normal…. it’s a part of life.  And we were able to find this stand of trees that had already started to turn.

bphotoart-20290-098-Edit - fall

I’ll reiterate myself now — plan ahead.  Fall comes quickly, and if you’re not careful, you might miss those gorgeous autumn hues that really make an outdoor portrait pop.

Case in point?

This week we noticed the leaves in our yard are already starting to turn.  The leaves are falling.  And it’s only August.

2 Responses

  1. These are beautiful! Fall does add a wonderful background to photos. I didn’t know that an early fall meant a more severe winter though – yikes! Leaves are already starting to change here too!

  2. Jennifer
    | Reply

    Thank you for the tips! I always need good ideas for making our pictures turn out better!

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