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Embracing the fall season through photography

I don’t know about you, but fall is one of my favorite seasons. Why? It’s finally cooling off, there are more colors in the world and the air becomes more crisp and fresh.

What does this mean as a photographer?

Get out more for some fall photography

I am not a lover of summer or the heat that comes with it, so fall means I am out much more often with my camera. Where? Anywhere really. Head into the city or take a ride out to the countryside. Go exploring to find some new places to capture the colors of fall.

Does a city near you have a “henge?” What do I mean by that? There are certain times of the year, usually near the equinox when the sun sets right down particular streets. Here in Chicago, the photographers flock to get these Chicago-henge images.

Image ©Mark Marshall


There are plenty of photographic opportunities during the plethora of fall festivals. Music, food, people. Here are a few of the festivals that are staples of fall here in the Midwest (and in other places I’m sure).


This is one fest you can likely find just about anywhere anymore in the fall months. Polka bands with the members dressed in true Bavarian garb, people dancing, the blue and white checkered tablecloths. All of it is there for your photographic pleasure.

Apple festivals

If you live in an area where there are apple orchards, there will be festivals celebrating the picking of apples. Trust me. Just a quick search took me to this site which lists apple festivals in the states but also in Australia, Germany and Mexico. Apple orchards are a great place for fall photography. Take the family out to pick apples, shoot some candid family photos of the day. Create a photo book of your fun fall adventure.

Fall and pumpkin festivals

Many cities and towns have their own fall and/or pumpkin festivals. Again, there are so many opportunities at these local festivals. You can almost always find incredible food to shoot, people having a good time, bands playing music and of course, pumpkins and jack-o’-lanterns.

pumpkin contest

The only photographers missing out with festivals might be the die-hard landscape shooters. Even they should be able to find some shots covering these festivals. Wide, overlooking images of the entire festival or sunset silhouettes of carnival rides. Anything is possible.


The leaves and colors of fall make for amazing backdrops and props. Autumn light is lower and less harsh than that of summer so your images will be softer, perfect for portraits. If you have a family portrait session take them somewhere with a lot of leaves, bring rakes and shoot images of them raking up the leaves, then watch the fun begin. Once there are piles of leaves, of course, they’ll want to (have to) jump in them. What a fun family photo session and you’ll get some creative and unique images.

fall portrait

Events for fall photography

Homecoming and football

Homecoming is a big deal for many high school kids — the big game, the dance, getting dressed up and along with that comes the photos. This is a good opportunity to have images of your kids when they actually want their photos taken. Make sure to get nice close headshots along with the images of their outfits, them with their dates and their friends. Don’t forget the details too, bouquets, corsages and freshly done hair in a style they don’t normally wear.

Fall means football as well. Whether it’s your local high school or college or you get a chance to attend a professional game, take your camera. Locally you may be able to get a spot along the sidelines and capture some great moments. If it’s a big game at a larger stadium look around and take photos of the crowd, and the whole field and document your entire experience.


Haven’t heard of or seen cyclocross? The season starts the end of September and goes through December. It is a blast to photograph.


This one is easy. Kids and costumes, what could be easier? I once saw a portrait photographer offer the trick-or-treaters a Halloween portrait when they came to her house. If your house and yard are decorated for Halloween you have a ready-made backdrop for some fun images of the local kids in their costumes. Print on the spot and they’re getting one of the coolest treats ever. (Less sugar and their parents will love you for that.)

Forest preserves and parks

Fall tends to mean that these places are a little less crowded which means you can take your time, set up your shots and be more deliberate about the process. You won’t have to wait for people to move off a trail or away from that fence in front of that amazing pond. There may be more wildlife activity in these places now that the weather is cooling down. Take your time, pick a spot and hang out for a while, just be ready to capture whatever comes your way.

Changing of the leaves

Of course, this is the big one right? Check your local area fall leaves calendar, or head out on a road trip to somewhere that is known for having spectacular fall leaf colors. Smokey Mountains National Park has an interactive fall foliage map on its website. You can slide along the dates to find the peak colors for your area.

So, grab a sweatshirt and get out there. Fall photography is invigorating and fun. What will you be photographing?

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Rafael Jones

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