Autumn portraits are an absolute must at this time of year. The season’s dazzling array of colours demands you get out there and take photos. However, sometimes inspiration can desert you as you look for that unique portrait shot. Here are some ideas to help you make the most of this wonderful time of year and snap some extraordinary images.
Location, Location, Location
Find a spot that screams autumn! If you live in an area with a plethora of deciduous trees, go for a drive and search for a beautiful spot – a location that shows off the beauty of autumn.
There are many autumn location ideas. An apple orchard is a wonderful location for autumn photos. You can take photos in a tree (kids love to climb trees!), under a tree, between the rows of trees, or even as you munch on caramel apples. A pumpkin patch is also a great place for autumn portraits. There, you’ll find plenty of pumpkins, gourds, hay bales, wagons – and maybe even an old truck.
Bear in mind that sometimes you have to pay for the use of a farm for professional photos. Most of the time, I’ve found you simply need to ask permission ahead of time.
If shooting outside is not an option – perhaps because of inclement weather or time constraints – head indoors. Many kids love to bake in the autumn! Whether it’s apple pie or pumpkin pie you’re making, have everyone get in on the action. Dress up in aprons, cover the counter with bowls and ingredients, and get to work. If a little flour gets on your face, all the better! And when the pie is ready, enjoy a warm slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Leaves For Days
Although it may seem too obvious, there are many ways to uniquely incorporate leaves into your autumn portraits.
One idea is to rake up a huge pile of leaves, and then ask the kids to jump in them. (Or if you have a little one, place them in the centre of the leaf pile.) Another idea is to tell the kids — and perhaps, the adults, too — to throw the leaves up in the air.
Another idea is to create a layer of leaves on the ground, and then ask the subject(s) to lie down on the leaves. Try to get up high above the subject and shoot down. (If you are vertically challenged like me, you may need to bring a stool or ladder.)
Or use a few piles of leaves to spell out the year (for a graduating senior) or a child’s age.
Pumpkins and Props
Pumpkins make great autumn props. Gather up a bunch of pumpkins and set them all around your subjects, or place them in a wheelbarrow around the kids. If you have a little one, consider cleaning out a pumpkin and placing your child inside it. It’s not only a unique idea but an adorable one, too.
There are so many other seasonal props that are often synonymous with autumn. Warm quilts, mugs filled with tea, hot cocoa or apple cider, bales of hay, Indian corn, gourds, stalks of wheat, red barns and even roaring campfires are all good places to start.
What you wear can also help your fall portraits stand out! Consider bundling up in a warm sweater, a pretty scarf, or a fun hat. If you live in a milder climate, don a floral crown with flowers and leaves found in the fall. In addition, riding boots and jeans almost always work well for autumn portraits.
School Is In Session
In autumn the kids return to school. If you missed the first-day-of-school shot, snap some beginning-of-the-year shots now. (No one will know!) Props such as an old desk, newly-sharpened pencils, lined paper, books, and an apple work well. If it’s possible, take photos of your subject(s) at their school in the late afternoon or early evening. (Check with the school for hours and availability.)
While not everyone is into cuddling and may prefer their personal space, using the cooler temperatures as a way to encourage snuggling up can add increased feelings of happiness and warmth to your portrait photography. Even if people are just pretending to enjoy the snuggling, it has a pleasing effect on the pictures, and when the cuddling is genuine, it’s even better!
Get A Jump On Holiday Business
With big holidays just around the corner, autumn is the perfect time of year to offer a special or sale on portraits as people start thinking about the holiday cards they’ll be sending out. A great family portrait makes the perfect holiday card, and as long as you don’t overbook yourself, you can benefit on the eagerness of clients to get such a task done early.