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15 Best Tips for Beautiful Autumn Photography

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Related course: Simply Stunning Landscapes

Autumn is the perfect time of year for taking images of beautiful colours, cosy moments and breathtaking sceneries.

It’s also the perfect season to get into creative autumn photography to improve your skills and impress your viewers.

We collected 15 tips for you to improve your autumn images. Take a look, and try building them into your photography.

Female hand close-up with colorful bouquet of autumn leaves.

1. Focus on Thrown Leaves to Create Exciting Compositions

People throwing leaves in the air are a classic action shot in autumn photography. But this idea is so popular that it might make your photos look like any other autumn portrait.

To avoid this, experiment with a different focal point to make them look less boring. For example, the subject in your portrait doesn’t always have to be in focus.

For something a little abstract, set your aperture to any small number like f/1.8. Then pull your focus away from the person as they throw leaves in the air. Focus on a couple of leaves instead and turn your subject into a blurry outline.

You can also experiment with freelensing. Or use a Lensbaby to create an intense blur in specific parts of your photos.

Autumn photography of thrown leaves in the foreground with a blurred female in the background

2. Paint Leaves to Add More Intense Colours

Another way to breathe life into autumn photography is to paint your leaves with eco-friendly paint. You can intensify the colours if they’re dull. Or paint them a completely different colour for a surreal effect.

You can also use painted leaves as backgrounds, foregrounds, or simple props that people can hold.

This is a perfect activity for family photography, especially if small children are involved. You can distract them with eco paint. And you can take candid photos of them at the same time.

Painted leaves are not only great as props but as the sole subject of your photos too. You can capture magnificent patterns and textures in these photographs.

Autumn photography of colorful leaves on the ground

3. Highlight the Transitions Between Summer, Autumn, and Winter

You can always find reminders of summer when wandering in nature at the beginning of the fall season. It can be a little flower or a few green plants or trees among the changing red and yellow leaves. You can capture a compelling contrast.

This is true at the end of fall as winter approaches as well. You can sense when it’s coming, and sometimes the orange leaves meet the first frost.

Try capturing these seasonal phases to enhance autumn’s beauty.

Autumn leaves

4. Use Monochromatic Colour Palettes for Eye-Catching Photos

Some of the most beautiful autumn photos feature subjects that seem to blend in with their surroundings.

This monochromatic look isn’t typically desirable in other photography genres. But it’s a winner in autumn photography.

Before a photo shoot for portrait photography, ask your model to wear an outfit with red, orange, or yellow tones. Then match them with the appropriately coloured background. You can scout out some monochromatic autumn scenes beforehand.

You can also do this with leaves. Focusing on a specific coloured leaf, while the background has more autumn leaves of the same colour, will make the same blending effect.

Beautiful autumn photography of a female model in orange posing in front of orange leaved trees

5. Take Photos at Golden Hour to Emphasise Autumn’s Colours

Autumn may not be the sunniest time of year. But it does still come with the warm, soft, and directional light of golden hour. This light is found both in the morning before sunrise and before sunset too. It is ideal for bringing out the golden colours of autumn photography.

Use key light to take classic portraits, backlight to create silhouettes, and sidelight for atmospheric portraits.

Silhouette of a person sitting on a log in an autumn forest

6. Capture Rays of Sunlight for Ethereal Autumn Photos

Autumn is the perfect season to capture rays of sunlight. High humidity and sunshine can create these stunning scenes.

You have the best chance to catch these in the morning when the sun is not too high over the horizon.

Sometimes, you’re just lucky to see scenes like this. But pay attention to the weather forecast to improve your chances. If it predicts a sunny, humid day, it’s worth going to the forest to photograph these moments.

You can also take off your sun hood to create lens flares.

7. Shoot Low-Angle Shots to Capture More Layers of Depth

Autumn photography is mostly about the beautiful surroundings and colours of nature. So, shoot from a low angle to include more of the foreground and the background. This will nicely frame the subject in your image.

For instance, when taking a picture of an autumn tree, it can be beautiful by itself. But getting down low and showing colourful leaves in the foreground allows you to show the details of its leaves in greater detail. Not to mention capturing the lovely contrast the leaves have against the blue sky.

Shooting from a low angle lets you frame the entirety of a fall scene. This is perfect for places with large trees, lots of leaves, and a beautiful expanse of sky.

Autumn photo of a big oak with red leaves on a blue sky background

8. Take Pumpkin-Themed Halloween Photos

It goes without saying that Halloween and autumn are inseparable even if you don’t live in America.

Halloween can be about scary and dark scenes with a lot of props and decorations. Or you can capture children going from house to house for candy.

And, of course, there are plenty of Halloween photography scenes you can take with pumpkins too. But aside from Halloween pumpkin carvings, did you know you can use these vibrant props as props for baby portraits!

Yes, you can carve holes in a pumpkin, so the baby sits in it and pokes their legs out. Baby portraits like the one below are fun for family and children photographers to try, who need a boost of creativity.

Adorable autumn portrait of a baby in a pumpkin

9. Take Thanksgiving Photos of Sharing Abundance

Like Halloween, Thanksgiving also has its own autumn atmosphere that you can capture. It’s about harvest time and sharing that abundance with others.

Thanksgiving is about food, family, friends, and warm hospitality.  You can best capture this holiday season through family gatherings and dinners.

Take time to capture pictures of scrumptious food on the table and fun times around it together with loved ones.

Autumn photography of a Thanksgiving turkey and side dishes on a table

10. Use Food Photography to Capture the Essence of Autumn

Autumn photography involves taking pictures of seasonal food as well. It’s all about hot beverages, pumpkin pie, squash, walnuts… the list could go on.

Plus, food photography is a great indoor activity when the autumn weather is bad. You don’t have to go outside to enjoy autumn. You can bring a piece of it with you inside instead.

You can collect autumn reminders like leaves and pinecones to decorate the table and complement the colours of the food on the table. They can add the perfect touch to your food photography.

Also, use autumn produce as decorations too. Buy a pumpkin for the photoshoot, and you can even make a soup of it the next day. That way, your decoration won’t go to waste!

Pumpkin pie and a hot beverage on a table with autumn leaves walnuts and pinecones

11. Throw Leaves at Your Subject For Better Poses and Camera Angles

As we talked about earlier, a lot of times, autumn photography features people posing the same way while throwing leaves in the air.

To make this idea more interesting, throw leaves at your subject while they pose instead. This will allow your model to pose without restrictions.

It’s impossible to throw leaves at someone and hold your camera at the same time. So use a tripod and a timer or ask someone to throw the leaves for you.

You’ll get the leaf-throwing concept. And you’ll also be able to experiment with interesting angles at the same time.

Autumn portrait of a female model throwing leaves in the air.

12. Create Stunning Autumn Landscape Photos

The months of autumn are the perfect opportunity to take more landscape photos. And there are several ways to approach them.

Sometimes you can’t capture a scene because there are so many distracting details. In this instance, we suggest using a telephoto lens or a prime lens with a wide aperture. Using a shallow depth of field will help you blur those distracting elements from your image.

However, sometimes you want to capture more details. If you want your autumn photography to be more detailed, use a narrow aperture like f/16. This will ensure that both your whole landscape is in focus.

Then there are times the scene is so magnificent, but you can’t capture the grandeur of it all. A wide-angle lens will help you create a sense of scale. But you will want a strong subject in your photo to show depth and perspective.

Keep in mind that your landscape photos might look distorted if you use the wrong angles. To avoid this, always keep your camera level.

If you struggling to capture beautiful autumn landscapes, be sure to check out our course, Simply Stunning Landscapes.

An outdoor portrait of a female model sitting on rocks amidst a beautiful mountainous autumn landscape.

13. Take Photos in Fog and Rain for a Different Look

The magic of autumn isn’t only shown through sunny images with orange leaves. Don’t forget how beautiful misty and rainy weather can be.

Get up early, or go out in the late afternoon to capture fog. And, with the proper waterproof camera and gear, shoot on rainy days.

Umbrellas are great props to use for portrait photography in the rain. And street photography can be rewarding after heavy rain, with large puddles you can use to reflect urban landscapes.

A foggy forest and mountain landscape in autumn with a sun flare

14. In Bad Weather, Create Cozy Images of People Indoors

Yes, one of the downfalls of taking pictures in autumn is bad weather. But if the weather isn’t ideal, you can take portrait photos and cosy images of people indoors.

Indoor photography can be perfect for photos sessions with families and couples. Use details in their homes to bring out and capture their personalities. It’ll give your photos more meaning. You can practice beforehand by taking photos of your own friends and family in their homes.

When it comes to lighting, take photos of people next to larges windows. And be sure to adjust your camera’s white balance if you’re using artificial light sources.

It’s also a great opportunity to experiment with making self-portraits or still-life images in your home.

A cosy indoor portrait of a female model and a dog - autumn photography tips

15. Combine Fairy Lights With Autumn Colours for Glowing Portraits

Fairy lights are often used in nighttime photography to create ethereal portraits. You can also use them in the autumn to add a touch of dreaminess to your photoshoot.

Use fairy lights to make your portraits more interesting by placing them in your background for a bokeh effect.

You can place them in a lantern or jar and have your model hold them in their hands or even up in front of their face to add a glowing detail to the photo.

For the best results, use coloured fairy lights that complement autumn’s reds, yellows, and oranges.

An outdoor portrait of a female holding a lantern with fairy lights in front of her face.

Improving Your Autumn Photography: Conclusion

Autumn’s colours, landscapes, and light create the perfect outdoor studio for every kind of photographer. Autumn colours are so iconic that you won’t have a too difficult time with them. And even when foul fall weather keeps you inside, there are lots of indoor photography options too.

We encourage you to go out and make the most of your surroundings. Or stay in and take images of family gatherings, food, decorations, and people.

We hope our 15 autumn photography tips will help you get images that perfectly illustrate the atmosphere of this season.

Want More? Try Our Landscape Photography Course

Do you want to capture stunning landscapes every time you shoot?

I’ve developed a five-step process to capture stunning landscapes. It covers location scouting, weather, time of day, composition and camera settings.

I’ve outlined my process in this course.

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