Taking Playful Fall Photos

by Leila S Posted on October 04, 2011

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Fall is one of my favorite seasons for photographing children playing outside.  Bright red apples present themselves for the picking and pumpkins are ripe for carving spooky silhouettes.  Trees alight in vibrant fiery colors and then fall in huge piles for us to throw, crunch under our feet and even jump into.

What to do with all this autumnal inspiration?

Shoot outdoors of course! The fall begs to be enjoyed out of the house.  The cooler temperatures are perfect conditions for innumerable outdoor sports and activities.  Whether it’s a crisp and cool afternoon or you’re experiencing the joys of an Indian summer, you should be good to go.  Just remember to dress in layers.  Get out your soccer balls and scooters and make some memories!

Capture the exuberant and the calm. You know that endless supply of energy kids seem to have?  Get it on camera.  You’ll need to use a fast enough shutter speed to stop them in motion.  The sun is the queen of light sources and often bright enough to allow you to do this.  You may want to experiment with adding flash to really freeze them in camera, even when there is plenty of light.  I also enjoy shots that emphasize movement with motion blur, which you can achieve with a slower shutter speed (start with 1/60).  Play.  Then keep shooting when the action stops.  You’ll want to photograph that fleeting expression, or reflective quiet moment too.

Be your own family’s photo historian as you’re enjoying all that fall has to offer.  Make sure to catalogue the little ones growing up while they’re still young and while they still let you.  I read this quote from Sharon Osbourne in Parents magazine and it resonated:  “Your children are basically on loan to you.  By the time they become young adults, they grow their wings and fly.  You should treasure every moment.”  My niece recently turned 15 and she’s been in front of my lens since she was 6 (when I met my hubby).  I’m so glad to have a photographic record of her through all the birthdays, holidays and in-betweens.  Luckily for us she still likes to go apple picking, but that could change tomorrow.

Fall style tip: The layered look is back with cute hoodies and cozy knitwear.  Fall wardrobes move into bold, deeper hues and earth tones.  Plus with Halloween around the corner, playful clothes and costumes abound.  Take advantage of the season by emphasizing these trends before you set out on your family photo shoot.

What’s your favorite fall family tradition?

Leila is a NYC kids lifestyle photographer who writes a monthly blog called Foto Shui – make your photos flow.


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  1. BarbaraJ Says:

    The fall is my favorite time of the year! I have a annual photo shoot for each of our four families (our adult children). Great article!

  2. petiam Says:

    LOVE your photos!!!! Great photo tips too! I adore the fall season, though here in SoCal it is so very short. Still I try to ‘catch it’, and I’ll be sure to use some of your suggestions. Thanks for the great article!

  3. Leila Sutton Says:

    I love that tradition of yours Barbara! And I hope you ‘catch it’ petiam! Some of the tips can apply all year round too especially in areas like yours where the weather is always right for an outdoor shoot. Happy shooting.


  4. AnnAbbott Says:

    Love our local pumpkin farm! We are heading out there next week. There is nothing better than the warm colors of fall to make a great photograph.

  5. Leila Sutton Says:

    You’re right, pumpkin and apple farms are amazing locations, AnnAbbott! My favorite part, the hot apple cider in the shop after all the activity outside! Hey there’s an idea to capture too :)

    Best, Leila

more about Leila S

My name is Leila (l-eye-la) and I'm a NYC kids lifestyle photographer. I shoot kids and families for advertising and editorial clients, and everyday moms & dads from all over the world. I'm always aiming for that perfect balance of expression, action and environment to come together and tell a story. In my case, that story is most often honest and joyful. When I'm not out shooting with clients, you'll find me toting around my gear whenever I have the opportunity to travel or in my own neck of the woods at family parties. I just can't get enough. Parents, friends and family (even my own mom!) often ask me how I get them and their kids to look so amazing. Some of it is technical and some of it is just learning to notice the right details. I'm thrilled to be able share with my fellow Shutterfly enthusiasts my professional advice on how to "make your photos flow". And yes, I use Shutterfly too for my personal snapshots! I've made beautiful photo greeting cards and love their share sites for giving my friends & family insider access to the gazillion shots they're always seeing me take. Visit my website at leilasutton.com, follow me on facebook.com/leilasuttonphotography, or peruse my blog fotoshui.com - make your photos flow.

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