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10 Tips to Produce Award-winning Fall Photo Shoots

Fall is a very special time of the year where photographers can capture the vivid and beautiful colors of nature. Here are some expert tips for capturing stunning fall portraits.

Location, Location

There are endless choices when deciding where to photograph your fall portrait sessions. Try to scout out local parks, country fields and barns nearby before the fall season begins so you have time to find out if you will need to obtain a permit or permission to shoot there. Many local parks don’t require a permit but be aware that there could be many other photographers working over top of each other. During this time of year, you may find that your go to spots will be busy and have to be shared!

Select the Best Lens and Camera Settings

I like to use a prime lens to shoot my portraits and my go to is normally the 50mm. I decided to shoot many of my portrait sessions with my 85mm this year because I like the beautiful bokeh this lens creates. Decide what kind of effect you want in your portraits and choose the right settings. Shoot wide open for blurred backgrounds or use a larger f-stop for more crisp in focus foliage. Just remember that when you are photographing multiple subjects, a larger f-stop will ensure that they are in focus. I tend to favor an aperture of 2.8-4 when photographing both groups and individuals. This will ensure your clients are in focus but also give you a blurred background.


The golden hour (after sunrise or before sunset) is the most popular time to shoot fall portraits because of its beautiful warm light. There are only so many of these hours and it may be hard to make time to photograph multiple clients during the fall days. When booking your clients during hours outside of the golden hour, use post-processing actions that can give the same warm effects.

Adapt to Changing Conditions and Deal with Sunshine 

No matter how much we hope for beautiful overcast fall days and golden hours, sometimes they just don’t happen. Temperature and precipitation may play a factor in the type of lighting conditions you have to work with. If it’s sunny, you might end up with ugly shadows on your subjects so have a plan in place for this (and all types of weather). On sunny days try placing your subjects ahead of the sun (the sun should be behind them). Not only will this lessen harsh shadows, it will create beautiful backlighting. I also recommend choosing locations that have areas that are also shaded. Choosing a location with large trees or structures are a good idea because they also give you different textures to work with the day of your shoot. Having a backup plan or a rain date in place is always important when organizing your outdoor sessions.

Rain, Rain Go Away!

There is nothing more frustrating than planning sessions in advance and having to cancel due to inclement weather. Your clients hearts might be set on outdoor photographs but you if not you can also offer fall themed indoor sessions for those have limited availability during this season. You can find some great fall “props” at local farms and garden centers this time of year (things like hay, bushels of apples, etc.). I like to use Luxe Lens overlays to bring the outdoors in! The great thing about overlays is that they  are easy to use and can really make an indoor photograph pop!


When shooting outdoors during the fall, I recommend keeping it simple when it comes to props. The fall foliage is the perfect backdrop so why spoil it with lots of STUFF! Bring a few things that you can work with and that are easy to carry around when photographing your clients. A rustic ladder or a picnic blanket are great options that will not distract from the fall setting.

Original photo by Rich Vintage Photography


Autumn Red Vignette preset + Cool Gradient Layer from Luxe Autumn Touch of Tweed Preset Collection


Film Fall preset from Luxe Autumn Touch of Tweed Preset Collection


Speaking of props, I love to use what nature provides to enhance my sessions! Get your clients to throw some leaves in the air or dance and roll around in them. Unfortunately sometimes they haven’t yet fallen or they are wet from a recent sprinkle. Another great opportunity to use Luxe Leaf Overlays! Get your clients to pretend they are throwing some in the air or simply use the overlays to frame a formal portrait shot.

Dress Code

If you want your fall portraits to stand out, tell your clients to wear colors that compliment those present in the fall scenery. Instruct them to wear bold, bright colors like maroon, yellow and orange. Remind them to stay away from busy prints and bright or neon summer colors. Simple solids are always best!

Post-Processing and Products

In addition to the lovely actions and overlays Luxe Lens provides, there are also some great tools that can help you enhance the fall colors. Turn lime green grass to a rusty golden green by using the color changer action or take away green skin hues by using the skin tool actions. You can even blur out your background in post processing which is a great action tool because you will be able to shoot with a higher aperture to ensure crisp and in focus portraits. All of these things will help make your fall photographs more beautiful. However you distribute your proofs, prompt your clients to print their images. Whether you offer print products or recommend reliable printers, fall photographs will always be enjoyed if they are displayed as art. Fall portraits are in high demand because they can be displayed and enjoyed year round!

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