Five Ideas for Making Fall Portraits Unique

Fall Floral Crown Lacey CarrollWhen I think of fall, my mind is filled with images of brightly-colored leaves, baskets of apples, warm scarves, carved pumpkins, and crisp morning air.

Fall is a great time to take portraits, but sometimes creating unique photos can be challenging.

Here are five ideas to help you capture extraordinary images during your next fall portrait session.



Find a spot that screams fall! 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.

In Northern California where I live, the tree leaves are just beginning to change color. So, last week for my sister's maternity shoot (photo above), I selected a nearby field with tall, golden grasses instead. And because I shot about one hour before sunset, the grasses had a beautiful, autumnal glow.

There are many other fall location ideas, too. An apple orchard is a wonderful location for fall 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 fall 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 families love to bake in the fall! Whether it’s apple pie or pumpkin pie you’re making, have the whole family 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.


Although it may seem too obvious, there are many ways to uniquely incorporate leaves into your fall 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 center of the leaf pile.) Another idea is to tell the kids — and perhaps, the adults, too — to throw the leaves up in the air. Be sure to set your camera to continuous shooting, so you can capture as much of the action as possible.

Laying in Leaves Lacey CarrollAnother 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 step stool or ladder.)

Leaf Over Eye Lacey CarrollOr select one pretty leaf and cut a small hole in it. Then, ask the subject to hold the leaf up in front of her face, so that the hole is directly over one of her eyes. During a senior portrait session, Photographer Lacey Carroll captured this unique image (above).

Leaf Bouquet Lacey CarrollGathering up a bunch of leaves and shaping them into a bouquet is another unique fall-friendly portrait idea.

Or use a few piles of leaves to spell out the year (for a graduating senior) or a child’s age.

Pumpkin Patch Lacey Carroll


Pumpkins make great fall props – for the young and old alike. Gather up a bunch of pumpkins and set them all around your subjects, or place them in a Radio Flyer wagon 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.

Leaves-Table - Justin Wilcox

There are so many other seasonal props that are often synonymous with fall: warm quilts, mugs filled with coffee, hot cocoa or apple cider, bales of hay, Indian corn, gourds, stalks of wheat, red barns, flowers such as mums, and even roaring campfires. (The photo above was taken by Photographer Justin Wilcox.) You should be able to find most of these food items at your local farmer’s market. As for the other props, check with friends and family, peruse Facebook yard sales, search Craigslist, or ask your photography friends for recommendations on where to rent seasonal props.

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 fall portraits.


In the fall, the kids return to school and football season begins in earnest. 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) on their school campus in the late afternoon or early evening. (Check with the school for hours and availability.)

If you’re a die-hard football fan, why not sport your favorite football team’s jersey? Throw in pom-poms, a megaphone, or a foam hand, and you’ve got the makings of a spirited fall portrait session.


There’s a lot you can do before snapping fall photos to make them unique, but there are also ways to take your images from ordinary to extraordinary post capture.

For instance, after you’ve shot your fall photographs, you can easily apply overlays or textures to your images in Photoshop. What are overlays and textures? Overlays and textures are JPEG images that you add to the top of your original image. With overlays, you can add gorgeous light, rich color, beautiful skies, and even elements such as falling leaves or snowflakes to your photos.

Special thanks to Lacey Carroll and Justin Wilcox for providing images for this article. 

Happy fall everyone, and happy shooting!



About the Author

Jennie Harless is a hobbyist photographer who loves capturing life through her lens. Her favorite subject is her 3-year-old son whom she and her husband adopted at birth. Jennie and her family make their home in Northern California, but love to travel to places all over the United States. Her photography and writing can be found at The Life and Times of Jennie Rose and Jennie’s Journey.

7 thoughts on “Five Ideas for Making Fall Portraits Unique”

  1. Hey, thanks for this website, love it!
    I have a tricky question about DoF. I saw a nice pic here in the Autumn Tips, a girl was holding a bunch of leaves in her hands and the focus was on the leaves not on the girl. What kind of settings do you use for that? Every time I try to do something similar the focus goes to the person instead of the foreground (except when I use Auto mode but I don’t always want to do that).
    Thanks 🙂

    1. Hey Karol,

      You should be able to change the autofocus mode on your camera to “single-point” rather than area-focus. That way, you aim the autofocus point at the object that you want to be in focus, and snap the photo. If you let me know what kind of camera you have, I can help you out with the details.



    2. Hi Carol, you want to make sure that you focus is on the leaves and I do not know what you are shooting with but you want your lowest apeture setting on the camera and make sure you focus point is on the leaves.

  2. Tiffany Wichert

    How do you get that filter you have for on top of the location! I just love it and was wondering if there was a website or something you had to buy in the store!

  3. Gregory Brumfield

    how do you get your picture on symphony cast, do you downloaded it or is this on Instagram i look forward for your reply thank you. oh co-indecently send my regards to Alison Young and may god bless.???.

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