Tips for Successful Outdoor Fall Family Photos | Cleveland Southside Moms

Hooray! You’ve decided to have family pictures taken! But now what? Who should you hire?
Where should you have them taken? When is the best time? What should you wear? That short
list of questions can quickly grow making the entire process feel overwhelming. Luckily, I am
here to help!
I’m Kelly Collins, owner of Kelly Collins Photography. I am going to give you as many answers,
tips, and tricks as I can to help make the process of capturing family memories enjoyable and

The most important question, and the first one you should tackle, is who will take your pictures. I highly recommend asking friends and family for references as a place to start. When you have some suggestions, spend time looking at each photographer’s website to get a feel for their style. If you enjoy the colors, look, and energy of their work, reach out to them with questions. Spending a little time talking and building rapport will help you find a good fit with someone who will help you create family memories! TIP: Asking a photographer to change their style to imitate an inspo pic that you have of a friend or found on Pinterest isn’t likely to yield great results. Each photographer has a finished product in mind when taking pictures, and that informs the way each shot is seen and edited. Finding someone that produces images that you love is really important. If you love bright, bold colors, choosing a photographer that produces more muted work won’t be the best fit for either of you. Helping the photographer understand your family will help, too. Personally, I love to chat with clients to get a feel for what their family loves, hear a bit about each person, and look for connections.

Now that you have someone in mind, how do you choose a location? To help your family be their best selves in your pictures, choose a setting that is comfortable for all of you! Are you a family that loves being downtown and walking the city and exploring museums, shops, and
restaurants? An urban feel, like downtown Independence, might be a great place to take some pictures. Is hiking, visiting the CVNP, or spending the day at the beach the way to your family’s heart? Going to a favorite trail or picnic area is a fun way to capture your family at their best. Does your family have a backyard that is absolutely your haven? Take pictures there! Here in Northeast Ohio we are so lucky to have such versatile landscapes and seasons that I will focus on outdoor family portraiture. If you are looking for more formal, or beautifully posed pictures, there are many photographers that have wonderful studio options as well. Again, talk to the photographer about your family and discuss ideas to decide on a location that will work for you both. I have favorite locations, as all photographers do, but I also love being introduced to new places by clients. Keep in mind that the location can be a great way to get kids (especially shy, young, or neurodivergent kiddos); to feel much more comfortable when a stranger with a camera shows up.

The next question – when to have pictures taken – involves both season and time of day. Many families gravitate toward fall pictures because of the incredible foliage we are treated to each year. While the fall does have so much natural beauty to offer, it is really a joy to consider family pictures in every season. In the spring, bright, fresh colors are emerging, and we all feel such relief from the longer, colder days. In the summer, the verdant landscape makes everything beautiful and the warmth offers many options for water fun too. Winter is one of my favorite times to take pictures. The neutral earthiness of the sleeping trees and dormant grasses makes for a landscape that lets your family really shine. Fresh snowfall is a really fun option for those who are brave enough for the cold!

Each season also means different considerations for time of day. Many people love to have pictures taken near sunset because of the way the sun is so kind to our complexions and the light is easy to use. What does that mean? It means that when the bright sun is directly
overhead, we have more things to consider, like squinting eyes, shadows, and heat! Cloudy days are actually wonderful for pictures because they diffuse the sunlight nicely, almost like a beauty lamp! Waiting for sunset during the summer and early fall means waiting until around
8pm for pictures. In the spring and winter it means much earlier, closer to 6pm. That can be a major consideration for families with little ones who are up later than usual and less likely to be cooperative.

What to wear is always a major question, too. The first thing the overwhelming majority of mamas express to me is some level of concern for how they look personally. Mamas, remember this: your babies love you. You are their comfort, their safe place, and their joy. They will cherish these pictures of you when they are adults because they will see the mama that raised them. What they won’t see are the parts of yourself that you may not be the most happy with. That being said, my best advice is this: Dress yourself first. You are likely to be the hardest one to find something for. Wear something comfortable; that feels good; and that makes you feel good. Dress the rest of your family to coordinate with you. Gone are the days of perfectly matched outfits. Choose a color theme that coordinates well and go from there. Once you have your outfit, the coordinating can begin and anything that feels comfortable and looks nice is great. You’ve gotten everyone dressed and in the family vehicle, and there’s one more thing you can do on the way to the photo shoot that will make your pictures great. Have fun! Listen to music and sing along, listen to an audiobook, or make jokes. Everyone will feel more relaxed, the kiddos will be much happier, and we will get a better look at you as a family. This is coming from the lady that used to be a taskmaster that would be laying out expectations, making ice cream promises based on smiles and cooperation. Let me assure you that an ice cream smile and a silly singalong smile are two very different things!

I hope these insights can help you to be successful in your next quest for capturing memories. Much of this information is useful for other types of photography like senior pictures, maternity pictures, and milestones. I am always happy to answer any questions you may have! You can view my website at or email me at [email protected]

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