Autumn photos
22 Nov

How to photograph your family in autumn

So many people say that autumn is their favourite time of year. Why? It’s all about colour and pumpkins and apples and the smell of change in the air.

It’s also a great time for photographing your kids because nature has given you a beautiful backdrop.

However, it’s not just about plonking them down in the leaves and telling them to have a run around. If you want to have more professional and polished results, then there are a few things you can do to improve your autumn shoot.

1. Coordinate the clothes. Think about how you’re going to dress your subjects. Basically, their clothes should work with the autumn palette of red, orange and yellow. In the lead up to the autumn shoot, I keep my eye out for fun hats, tops and accessories, so that I have the looks sorted when the right day comes along.

Colour wheel

If you look at the colour wheel, it’s best to stick with colours that are either right next to your colours or directly opposite. You can also use brown to your heart’s content here as it pretty much goes with everything.

Baby in autumn leaves

Choose clothing that works with the autumn colour palette

2. Choose the day and time carefully. As you can imagine, you’ll get brighter colours on sunnier days and more muted colours on cloudier days. Autumn light in general is pretty awesome because it never gets as harsh as summer light due to the angle of the sun’s rays. That being said, I would still time your shoot for either morning or afternoon just before the sun goes down, so that you get a nice soft light in your images.

young child holding autumn leaves

The above images were taken between 10-11am

article about how to take photos of your family in autumn leaves

This image was taken around 3:45-4pm. Notice the softer light.

3. Lurk in the shadows. If it’s a sunny day, then you might find the light is a bit harsh, even in lovely autumn. There are two things you need to do: 1) make sure the sun is behind your subject. This will avoid squinting eyes and also provide a beautiful halo outline that helps to separate your subject from the background. 2) Move into the shadow. Last weekend I was photographing Baby in the park and found that the light in the open was causing too much reflection off the leaves and they were burning out (e.g. coming up white) on my screen. So I moved us into the shadow of the tree, with the sun still behind Baby. This is especially important if you are under a tree because you want to avoid getting the dappled shadows from the branches on your subject’s face.

baby crying in leaves

This was taken in bright sunlight. Notice the high contrast between the light in the background and the light in the foreground and also the glare of the sun on the leaves behind the subject. Crying Baby had nothing to do with lighting (poor thing!)

4. Pretend it’s cloudy. Now that you are in the shadows, you might take a picture and think it looks a little blue. The way to combat this is to change the light temperature setting to cloudy. Even if you don’t have a fancy SLR, your camera will most likely have a setting that is meant for use on cloudy days. The reason you want to do this is that it will instantly warm up your image. If you are using your iPhone, you can try shooting through your sunglasses (whether this will work depends on the lenses on your glasses. Bring multiple pairs and experiment).

demonstrating the same image with a cold and warm colour temperature

The image on the left is cold and blue on the face, whereas the right-hand image, which has the cloudy setting applied, is warmer

5. Bring help. Photographing kids is always easier if you have help, so make sure it’s not just you and junior. I had my mother-in-law with my last weekend for my shoot, although the biggest problem was that my subject just wanted to cuddle the photographer the whole time. So cute.

child's legs in autumn leaves and child holding yellow leaf

Don't forget the details, which can be great if you are designing an album of your shoot.

6. Think about activities. Unless your child is very young, you’ll need to make this shoot fun. Try different things to get the right expressions from your subject, like:

- Give them bunches of leaves to throw in the air
- Ask them to kick leaves around
- Bury them in leaves
- If it’s a young child, ask your “assistant” to twirl leaves above the baby’s head to get him/her looking up
- Get them to hold the leaves in their hands and zoom in on the hands (don’t forget the details! Always handy if you want to turn this into an album)
- Ask them to lie down in the leaves and look up at you (tell them to count the leaves in the tree)

Those are just a few ideas for you. I’m sure you’ll have some of your own, too.

child playing in autumn leaves

7. Take along some props. Those of you who are familiar with my photography will know that I love a good prop. Well, don’t be afraid to bring a few along with you. For Baby’s first autumn shoot, I brought along some granny smith apples to add a punch of green (and give her something to play with). Other things you could bring are: pumpkins, a child’s wagon (red if you have it!), old wooden crates, make bunting out of cardboard and write A-U-T-U-M-N on the flags, balloons, a heart made out of tree branches (like a wreath)…the list goes on. But the great thing about autumn is that the colours are really the stars of the image, so whether you prop it up or not, it’ll be fabulous.

Baby with green apples in autumn leaves

The green apples just add another bit of colour, especially as this image was taken on an overcast and thus less colourful day than the other images.

I hope you’ve learned a few good tips and tricks from this article. Please share it with your friends and join my linky below if you’ve done any autumnal shoots with your family.


  1. 22 Nov

    Chloe (from Chloe Witters)

    Love the Giraffe top! Autumn really is the best time of year for photos.

    I’ve linked up – my post is a bit of a rambly one about solo-parenting this week, but it does include the autumn shots I took last weekend.

  2. 22 Nov

    Julia from ICAWatermelon

    Thanks, Chloe! Great pics. I’m feeling a little giddy that people are adding their posts to my linky :o ) Yippee!!! Jx

  3. 23 Nov


    Really love your photo’s, I tried to link up but I’ve never done it before so not sure I did it right! I really like your blog design too!

  4. 23 Nov

    Julia from ICAWatermelon

    Hi, Kat, It worked! Great post :o ) I’m so glad you like my images and thank you for linking up. Jx

  5. 25 Nov

    Funky Wellies

    Great post and advice! I think my favourite pic is these two little legs in the leaves with cute apples on them…

  6. 27 Nov

    Helen Spencer (SaveEveryStep - family stories past and present)

    Beautiful as ever.

  7. 29 Nov

    Chanelle Segerius-Bruce

    Wow she is getting bigger and bigger!

  8. 23 Sep


    Thank you kindly for sharing your knowledge looking forward to taking a few snaps of the kids now at the woods .

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