Taking great fall photos of your kids

The other night when taking pictures of my little girls playing in the leaves, I found myself nostalgic thinking of similar scenes when our big kids were small, and wishing I’d known more about photography back then. I’m still not a professional– talk to my son-in-law or his brother if you want the real deal! But I’m getting better at capturing the glow of sunshine on fall leaves and the faces of my precious ones. I thought I’d walk you through the pictures I took the other day, and talk about what I did in case you’re hoping to capture some everyday moments with your own children.

1. Go with evening light.  An hour before sunset when the light is warm and low and golden usually works best.

2. Turn off your flash if possible.  Natural light is going to give you a much warmer, softer look.  If the light is fading, turn your children so that their faces are at least partially toward the light, or use fill flash from at least 6 feet away to avoid that white washed-out look.

3.  Keep the background as simple as possible.  See that cow in the photo below?  He does give you a sense of the place where we live, but he’s also distracting.  Ditto for the red wagon and the garden hose.  Sometimes you may need to move clutter out of the way, and other times you may be able to declutter the background by taking a few steps to the right or left, or shooting from a higher or lower angle.


4. Don’t be afraid to get down and dirty.  Get some shots with your camera almost on the ground, so that lots of grass and leaves are in the foreground of the picture between you and your child (make sure your camera’s focus point is still your child tho!)


5. Angle upward.  Lie down on your back near your child, point the camera up toward your child’s face, and ask him to throw some leaves up in the air.  This is a great way to get just your child’s face, flying leaves, and sky.


6.  Get high and shoot down.   Ask your child to lie down in the leaves, with you standing overhead shooting downward.  If you’ve got several kids and need to get higher to include everyone, try standing on a deck or porch above your kids.  Or get out a stepladder to gain some extra height.  (Just don’t get so involved in your shooting that you forget your elevation!)


7.  Shoot close up, far away, and in between.  For example, get a closeup of just your child’s hand clutching a wad of leaves, then try a faraway picture showing the height of a tree with your little one standing underneath it.


8. Capture motion.  Give your kids something to do, whether it be jumping into the leaf pile, throwing leaves up into the air, or shaking the branches of trees.  Then take lots of pictures rapid-fire, to increase your chances of getting your timing right.


9.  Set your child off-center in some of the photos.  This look is often more interesting than putting her right in the middle of the picture.


10. Embrace imperfection.  Don’t be too quick to delete blurry shots– they often give a photograph a nice feeling of movement.  And I personally think that a laughing kid in everyday clothes is much more interesting than a stiff kid in immaculate clothing.  So run, chase and play as you snap away. With fun in the wind, you’re sure to get a few photos that catch that joy!


If you’ve got more tips, add them in comments, below.  I’d love to learn more.  And if you found this post useful, I’d love a pin on Pinterest.

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  1. Great set of photos! I am taking a photography class right now with a bunch of high school students through a charter school. Learning so much! I would recommend following this guy on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/improvephoto/ You might get a kick out of where he is from… 🙂

  2. What kind of camera do you have? Ours died and Im on the hunt. Thanks

  3. Don’t forget to hand off the camera and get into some of those pictures too. Have the girls capture you with each of them, they will be proud of the photos they took and treasure you in the photo. I know you already know this but I always remind moms (and myself.) My mom was the family photographer, and there are almost no pictures of her. It’s not something I want to repeat.

    Thanks for your good photo tips, I need to come north to get some colorful leaf pictures someday. Ours here in Oklahoma are always just brown. I love it that your girls seem so willing to play the models.