6 min read

6 Fall Photoshoot Ideas for Portraits

6 min read

Last updated:

wide shot of couple admiring an autumn landscape together

Fall is a brilliant time of year for portrait photographers. The warm golden light makes your models glow. The vibrant autumn colours make your backgrounds look majestic. All in all, this season is ideal for experimenting with different fall photoshoot ideas.

But where should you start? If you don’t know which direction to go in, consider using these ideas to enhance your fall photoshoot experience.

Start Indoors

girl looking at a fall landscape from her window.
Remember that your fall portraits don’t need to feature your model’s face all the time. Leave room for atmospheric portraits like this one. This approach is also great for photographers who want to dabble in self-portrait photography without showing their faces!

In some countries, fall goes hand in hand with unpredictable weather. If you can’t go out and shoot right now, why not have a cozy fall photoshoot indoors?

Ask your model to sit next to a large window. Ideally, you should have a view of a forest of a park. Your model can look out of the window. They can hold a cup of coffee or pretend they’re reading a book. There are many different poses you can work with for this idea.

The more available light you use, the better. However, if you need more light, don’t be afraid of using a lamp. Make sure your artificial light is warm so that it complements the atmosphere in your fall photoshoot.

Tell a Story Using Your Surroundings

fall portrait of a girl playing guitar in a forest.
This is a self-portrait taken during the golden hour. I posed for this photograph, but I tried to make it seem like I was in the middle of playing my guitar. Immersing yourself in a story can help you bring your photos to life in a very different (and creative) way.

You can add depth to your portrait photos by telling a story. This is very easy to achieve in any fall photoshoot.

Let’s say that you’re photographing a family. Instead of taking group photos all the time, you can give your models something to do. The children can throw autumn leaves in the air, the parents can play games, etc. You get the idea! These activities will all tell a story about the family and make your fall photos look much more interesting.

You can also use things like:

  • Campfires
  • Musical instruments
  • Vintage cameras
  • Pumpkins

Take Advantage of the Golden Hour

wide shot of a girl looking down during the golden hour.
Backlight is also perfect for dreamy fall portraits. You don’t necessarily need to use it to create silhouettes. All you need to do is shoot against the sun while your model stands in front of you. This can highlight the texture of their hair, outline their body shape, and create beautiful rays of light in the background.

Many photographers love fall because of the golden hour. The light has a different and magical look to it during this time of year. You can make use of it twice a day: right after sunrise and right before sunset.

You can use golden hour light in many ways. Your model can:

  • Face it directly. This will create a beautiful and even glow on their face. Golden hour light isn’t as harsh as daytime light, so you don’t need to worry about taking unflattering fall portraits.
  • Expose one side of their body to the light source. (They should just stand to the side.) This will create interesting shadows on their face.
  • Stand with their back facing the sun. This will create backlight, which will create a golden glow around your model. Lighting like this is perfect for silhouettes.

What Outfit to Wear to a Fall Photoshoot

photo collage of outfit ideas for a fall photoshoot.
Here are some ideas on what your models can wear to a fall photoshoot. You can experiment with different outfits throughout your session. For example, you can ask your model to bring a trench coat, a jacket, and a few scarves. They can change every 30-40 minutes. This way, you’ll be able to take a variety of interesting photographs throughout your shoot.

Outfit styles and colours are very important in a fall photoshoot. If you pick colours that are too vibrant, your model will look out of place. Make sure you talk to your models before your photoshoot. Give them the freedom to pick their outfits, but guide them when necessary.

Outfit Colours

No matter what, prioritize your models’ comfort. Their clothes should be comfortable but visually pleasing. The colours should be neutral. Black, white, and grey can work well in any environment.

You can also experiment with shades of beige, brown, and red. Try to avoid clothing with large logos as it can look distracting in your photos.

Outfit Styles

If you don’t know what type of clothing your models should wear, consider these options:

  • Trench coat
  • Sweater
  • Scarf
  • Beanie
  • Turtleneck
  • Cowboy boots
  • A very long and elegant dress

Creative Fall Photoshoot Ideas

Take Pictures From Different Angles

portrait shot of a boy standing in front of a fall landscape.
Portraits with negative space are unique. In the fall, you have many opportunities to make this negative space look striking. You can fill it with out-of-focus trees, branches, or even a gloomy sky. To avoid detailed backgrounds, use a large aperture like f/1.8. This will keep your model in focus and blur out the background. The resulting bokeh can complement your composition without being too distracting.

Make use of negative space. Negative space is space that isn’t filled with your model. You can achieve this by cropping your photos. The point is to not keep your model in the very centre of your frame. You can fill the negative space with vibrant autumn colours.

A great way to achieve this is to shoot from different angles. If you shoot from a very low angle, you’ll be able to photograph subjects that are usually not visible in conventional portraits.

Use Foregrounds Throughout Your Photoshoot

portrait of a girl looking through branches, with a background of blue sky.
When you shoot through objects, make sure you use manual focus. This is the most efficient way to keep your model in focus. If you use autofocus, your camera will have a hard time finding the perfect spot to focus on. This can result in a lot of wasted time and many unwanted outtakes! Manual focus might seem intimidating at first, but it’s fairly easy to master.

A foreground is something that’s close to your lens. If you use a large aperture (e.g. f/1.4), the foreground will look like a blob of colour covering a part of your frame. Many portrait photographers use this to add depth and vibrance to their pictures.

What can you use as a foreground? Anything you like! You can use elements of nature, your subject, and other details. There are many, many possibilities. You can partly cover your lens with an orange leaf, your hand, or grass. You can shoot through foliage or a fence.

Take Photos of Reflections

creative photo of a reflection in a puddle and autumn leaves.
You don’t need to use the same composition as the one in this reference photo. You can focus exclusively on the reflection in the puddle. Make sure you use manual focus so that your lens doesn’t focus on the texture of the water. Your model can jump, dance, or just pose the way they’d normally do. Your results won’t look as sharp as a normal portrait, but they’ll definitely allow you to experiment with a lot of fun fall photoshoot ideas.

For this tip, all you need is a puddle. If you shoot from the right angle, you’ll be able to capture reflections of trees and clouds. Combined with the texture of water, these reflections will look stunning. You can also use puddles to take surreal photos of your models.

You can use details like this in diptychs, or photo collages.

Use Lightroom Presets to Enhance Your Fall Photos

wide shot of child playing in fall foliage.
Lightroom presets and Photoshop actions can give you a lot of creative freedom in your fall photography. If some of the colours in your shots aren’t vibrant enough, you can quickly give them a boost during the editing process. You can also tone down colours that are too distracting. For example, if there are too many greens in your shots, you can change their hue to orange. This can greatly enhance the fall atmosphere in your portraits.

Once you’re done with your session, you can start perfecting your photos. Custom Lightroom presets can quickly enhance your fall photos and give you more time to actually take photos.

You can download our special presets pack for autumn photos, which comes with 90 autumn presets and 34 brushes. These tools were made exclusively for fall photography and can enhance a variety of photographs. Whether you’re a portrait or a landscape photographer, you can use our tools to make your autumn photos look as beautiful as possible.

With the help of a few fall photoshoot ideas, you can take your autumn photography to the next level. Remember to make the most of autumn’s vibrant colours during your fall photoshoots. Use them in different ways. This will refresh your creativity and give your portfolio a wonderful boost of colour.

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Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.

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