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Top 5 Tips for Fall Family Photos– From a Photographer

November 10, 2022

Fellow photographers, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! That’s right – fall family photos are in full swing, and that means most of our schedules are at their fullest. It’s so much fun to stomp around in the leaves with precious families, enjoying the cooler temperatures while we capture sweet memories. And this […]

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Fellow photographers, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! That’s right – fall family photos are in full swing, and that means most of our schedules are at their fullest. It’s so much fun to stomp around in the leaves with precious families, enjoying the cooler temperatures while we capture sweet memories. And this year, I’m clueing you in on my top 5 tips to make your sessions better than ever. Tuck these in your back pocket, and pass them on to your clients when you book a fall shoot! You’ll have a blast, and your families will treasure their photos for years and years to come. 

Top 5 Tips for Fall Family Photos from a Photographer | Jillian Goulding Photography
  1. Keep outfits timeless.

So many clients book fall sessions for their holiday card photos — and I love that! Buuuuut going full-on “deck the halls” with red or green or wearing flashy trends doesn’t actually end up serving most clients well. Instead, advise them to choose timeless neutral colors! Here’s why: 

  • Holiday-specific color schemes are hard to repurpose. If clients want to hang their family photos in their homes, or even just use them at a different time of year, neutrals are the way to go. 
  • “Trendy” clothes age photos, marking them clearly. Just think back to your old photos! You know which ones — you can look at them and go, “Oh, that was sooooo 2013.” Choosing to wear fashion that’s stood the test of time will actually make client photos seem ageless. 

I use Style and Select to help my clients choose outfits that match but still have that timeless look were all going for.

  1. Pick a location with visual diversity. 

As a photographer, you can maximize any session just by choosing the right spot to shoot! For fall family photos, make sure to select a location with different backdrops so that your clients will have a variety of options to print, send, and post. 

I love booking family sessions in parks with open space and trees! That way, I can take some photos in the open field, along with some forest-lined backgrounds, or even find a pile of leaves which is especially fun for young kids. (Just make sure to shoot the leaf shots last! Otherwise, you’ll be picking off flecks of brown from everyone’s sweaters for the rest of the session. Yep, learned this one the hard way.) 

Fall is also a great time to shoot on a quaint city street! Local sights are fun to capture in the background, and everybody loves a good brick backdrop. No matter where you choose to shoot your family sessions, just remember to mix it up.

  1. Take advantage of the season. 

Outdoor sessions can be magical all year long, but fall truly brings out the best colors. Capturing those browns, oranges, reds, yellows, and golds works with EVERY skin tone and style! I feel like that sunset golden hour is even more gorgeous in the fall. Keep this in mind when you’re planning your family sessions! A sunset family shoot is my favorite, hands-down — the light is so flattering, and since the sun sets earlier these days, you can still book sessions with babies and kids during this hour without upsetting anyone’s sleep schedule. It’s truly perfect. 

  1. Don’t worry about poses. 

Gone are the days of sending galleries full of shots of families sitting still and smiling directly into the camera. Okay, you might want a few of those… but it definitely doesn’t need to be the bulk of your photos anymore. Overly posed photos can feel stiff and boring. Want to know a secret? I hardly ever pose my clients these days. 

When I book a session, I like to let my clients know that what I want most is to capture their true personalities and their authentic connection as a family. The most fun part? This will look different for every single family! Here are some of my favorite ideas: 

  • Spread out a blanket and capture your clients laughing over a little picnic in the park!
  • Have an athletic family? Tell them to bring a soccer ball or football to their shoot – it’s perfect for them to run and play. 
  • Find a big pile of leaves and capture the fun! This one is especially great for little kids who might have trouble sitting still for photos.

However your family wants to spend their session, let them focus on enjoying the moment together. Laughing, smiling, teasing, and hugging all make beautifully captured moments — sometimes, even more than a posed smile ever could. Still not sure how to keep your shoots flowing smoothly? Check out my best tips for creating smoother photo shoots

  1. Don’t overbook yourself.

This last tip has very little to do with your clients and lots to do with your own sanity. As you know, fall is the busiest time for photographers everywhere. That’s a fantastic “problem” to have! But make sure you’re taking care of yourself as you step into a season that can be booked to the brim. Don’t burn yourself out by taking on more sessions than you can handle — both as a photographer and as a person. You’ve gotta set those work/life boundaries so you can enjoy your fall, too! 

Want to set yourself up for success this fall? Here’s the foolproof plan.

  • Calculate how much you’d like to make on fall family photos this year.  
  • Don’t forget to factor in time for editing, business expenses, and the cost of your expertise.
  • Do some math to figure out the right number of sessions that will allow you to reach your financial goals without burning out on your business or your life. 

I hope these tips will help you find your most successful (and most fun!!) fall yet as a photographer. I can’t wait to see the magic you create!

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I’m Jillian Goulding, a photographer and educator raising babies and building my life in Sacramento, CA.

Over the years, I’ve transformed my side hustle into a thriving photography business that has taken me and my camera to the beaches of San Francisco Bay, the pages of People Magazine, and the screens of Extra TV.

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