Updated: Nov 1, 2022
So you're thinking about a family photo session this Autumn. Amazing! Family photographers all over look forward to this time of year for so many reasons. I'm going to guide your through everything you need to know about preparing for your family photo session in what I consider to be the most magical season of all. Let's go!
C O N T E N T S
3 Reasons to choose Autumn for a family photo session
The Autumn light
Autumn is a true gift to any photographer. The air is cooler, there is that unmistakable bonfire smell and you can hear the crackle of leaves underfoot.
The light from the sun is more golden at this time of year because it's coming to us at a different angle. The sun isn't getting as high up into the sky so it's intensity is not nearly that of mid summer. It's like you're dimming the lights to a warm and cosy glow. One of my number one rules is never photograph someone looking into the sun. The light is simply too harsh on our faces in summer to get the desired result however in Autumn the light is more forgiving.
Early morning and late afternoon are the golden hours for photographs to get the best results. It would have to be very early or very late in the summer months to get the same sort of light which is why we can achieve this far easier at this time of year. We only need to wait until 3 or 4 oclock! This means that little ones bedtime routines are not interrupted. I simply love a hair halo. The golden light captures hair beautifully, a wonderful opportunity for a memorable moment.
But what if the sun doesn't shine?
Unfortunately I can't guarantee sun but if it's cloudy that's also good. (yes really) The clouds act as a natural diffuser giving your skin a lovely soft tone against the autumnal colours. It's quite likely to be a little misty too which can give a more moody effect. The colours on the trees still look incredible against a greyer landscape. You don't need to worry if you don't get the perfect autumn day.
Children adore Autumn
Children LOVE discovering more in nature during autumn through touch and smell.
It's a magical time. Christmas is just around the corner and there is a brewing excitement amongst children. They also love leaves... running through them, hiding in them, you name it. Leaf throwing is a great opportunity for fantastic photos of your children with delighted looks on their faces. Get the whole family involved! You can start it off - If they see you having fun then they will want to be part of that. They can get completely absorbed and engaged by their surroundings, forgetting there is even a photographer there.
Frankly, the more leaves in their hair the better time they will have had. Don't fret about muddy boots and getting clothes dirty, it's all part of it. It's a fun time for kids.
Photos of family make ideal Christmas gifts
What grandparent/uncle/auntie wouldn't love some beautiful, heart bursting pictures of their grandchildren/nieces/nephews as a Christmas gift? Stick it in a frame for them to cherish. So don't think of it as just for your immediate family.
Plus, autumnal pictures are better to display all year round in your home rather than Christmas themed ones, like so many families opt for!
How to prepare for your family autumn photo shoot
What to bring
This may be obvious but dress for the weather on the day. Autumn is one of those funny months when you can have the odd milder day and you're too hot in a jacket and then the week after it could be feeling cooler and crisper. So depending on what mother nature presents, bring along a light jacket or something warmer and perhaps an umbrella.
Also consider where you are going to be. Woodland is most certainly going to feature in your session so ensure everyone has suitable footwear.
Lay out your outfits the night before so you don't get in a fluster and end up rushing the next day.
A rug or picnic blanket is advisable as the ground could be cold and damp. I may well ask you to sit on a fallen tree as it looks great in pictures, so for that reason too.
A pocket mirror and comb or brush is useful if you want to check your appearance at any point during your session.
The more prepared you are, the less likely you'll need some of this stuff but 'fail to plan, plan to fail,' that's always what I tell myself!
Basically all the usual stuff you would take on a family day out ie wet wipes, nappies. Include a change of clothes. Always handy just in case. Nobody wants to be miserable with cold feet and soggy socks. Yuk!
Snacks and a drink. When kids get hungry they can get grumpy so make sure you have enough to see you through the session. A typical session can last up to 2 hours. I would advise to give them something straight before and include a toilet stop so you can put these 2 things out of your mind even for half an hour and focus on enjoying yourself.
Does your child have a favourite toy or blanket they like to take everywhere? bring that. Some parents feel funny about these items appearing in pictures, however if it puts a smile on their face then all for the better.
You know, sometimes I miss not having a buggy any more as you can cram a whole load of stuff in there!
What to wear for your autumn family session
What colours to choose
It's time to dig out the warmer clothes again (although in Scotland I know many of us never really put them away...) Choosing what to wear for an Autumnal session needn't be tricky.
Firstly, go through your wardrobes and select items that colour complement. The outfits you have will determine the colours for you. Pick a colour scheme of 3 colours and work that through everyone's outfits. Try and stick to it. Combine patterns with plains in those colours for a great consistent look.
You can choose any colour scheme but generally, rich and earthy tones will complement your surroundings for that seasonal feel. For example, plum, mustard and blue go lovely together or orange, teal and brown. Warm neutrals mixed in with one more dominant colour works very well. Experiment. It pays to spend a bit of time considering colours in advance as they can make your photos look so much better!
Children's Autumn outfits
Dress them formal or informal, depending on what sort of feeling you want from your pictures. For a fun family day out where the kids can run free and be themselves then casual will work best. If you want more posed shots then you may want to dress them more formal but that can also be fun!
For the girls you can't beat some tights, a cord dress and some cute boots. A beret and a warm knit shawl would be an ideal choice for something more formal. A chunky knit jumper teamed with a farmers cap and jeans can be very endearing for the boys. If you're really struggling, don't get into a tizz. You can't go wrong with colourful hats, gloves and some wellies!
Autumn outfits for mums
Many mums worry that they won't look their best when wearing a bulky jacket but that's not true. The ideal coat will be in your wardrobe and it isn't going to make you look like michelin man. A warm shawl or cape is also an option, or a smart raincoat that has a warm lining. A more formal coat can be dressed down and is also very flattering.
You may not even need a coat. A chunky knitted jumper may be enough. Play about with textures. Knits go well with a lighter scarf and some denim jeans. A warm jacket will complement the look and feel of a thinner shirt or top underneath. You can also accessorize with one statement piece of jewellery.
Team a long winter coat with a simple scarf and some knee high boots for a classic look.
You also need to consider practicality. If you love a heel, then stick to one that's chunkier as it won't sink into any mud or damp ground as easy.
Above all, you need to be comfortable and feel good. Don't consider a dress when you're more of a jeans and t-shirt sort of person. Be you.
Outfits for dads
Keep it simple with trousers whether jeans or otherwise, a warm jumper with shirt underneath and a scarf with or without a complimentary jacket. (depending on how cold it is) Boots are probably better than the trainers at the back door and remember to get the iron out if you want to wear a shirt! These little things do get noticed in photos.
Layer it up! Make sure the clothes under your jacket are considered as you may well want to take it off half way through if the weather is milder or you feel you don't want it on any more.
I would avoid black if at all possible as it can tend to look too dominant (not to mention dull). If you want to, use it sparingly.
What to avoid
Neons plus anything with logos and slogans on them. These are just too distracting. Bright pink is an absolute no no as it will clash with the Autumnal surroundings. Muted or baby pinks on the other hand, will work fine.
For more ideas head to my Pinterest board here
you can download 'What to Wear For Your Photoshoot Without Buying Anything New' on the website. (it will appear as a pop up)
5 locations for your autumn family photoshoot in edinburgh & lothians
We are lucky in this part of Scotland in that we don't have to wonder far to find a gem of an Autumn location. If you follow my blog you will know that I rave about Penicuik House. It's a short drive from Edinburgh and a stone's throw if you already live in Midlothian. There's a great circular route which includes a pond with a boat house, a bridge, and you can walk it within an hour.
Cammo Estate on the outskirts of Edinburgh is also worth a visit at this time of year. Benefiting from mature and open woodland it's the perfect setting for family photos and reasonably flat for buggies. There's always a quiet spot somewhere with beautiful open vistas.
Roslin Glen and the Country Park is spectacular and it has the bonus of the old gunpowder mill ruins as additional interest for enthusiastic adventurers! It's more up and down with steps and some steeper paths but nothing that will challenge shorter legs too much. There's also the Esk alongside the mill itself which is always an attraction for skimm
Lauriston Castle is a gem of a place in Edinburgh, with a huge variety of spots for fantastic Autumn pictures. The grounds grace beautiful views over the Forth and include a Japanese garden, ponds and the most excellent tree for children to climb!
Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Pond bring back childhood memories for me as a wee girl feeding the ducks, all wrapped up in my winter woolies. (Autumn seemed so much colder back in the 80's!) Great views across Edinburgh over the allotments with meadow like fields and clusters of beautiful trees. Explore the forest walks running along side the Braid Burn and you can have a cup of tea in the Lodge Coffee house after your session.
These locations are ideal for young nature enthusiasts to spot wildllife such as grey squirrels rushing up trees and who knows you may even be very lucky and see a roe deer. Always a treat! A photoshoot is also an opportunity to try somewhere new which will make it more of an adventure for the whole family.
Let me just say as well, you don't have to go to a woodland for your Autumn session. It could be in a field at the back of your house (I'm thinknig hay stacks), your garden or even in a city spot. Plenty of places to choose from in Edinburgh. The Meadows, Arthur's Seat, Leith Links.... we are so lucky to have so much choice!
Kids activity ideas for Autumn photo shoots
The great thing about Autumn is that there are things you can do at this time that you can't do during other seasons and the number one thing is leaf throwing! Get the whole family involved for a leaf throw picture or get the kids to throw them over mum and dad which they will usually generate some natural smiles and laughter, perfect for capturing on camera.
The textures of leaves and berries make these items great for collecting during the photo shoot. I encourage children to see what they can find along the way and this means that I get genuine looks of curiousity and exciting interactions. Ideal! If kids are distracted from you photographing them and have something to focus on then the end results are way more natural.
Other things you can do...
Climb a tree
Hide and seek
Roll down a hill
Make a den
Races through the leaves
Splash in a puddle
Do a leaf angel
These simple activities are all going to inject some fun and giggles into your family photo session.
Autumn photoshoot Posing ideas for children
No doubt you will be in or near a wood somewhere for your Autumn session to make the most of those spectacular colours. Fallen trees provide a great opportunity for kids to sit on or play peek a boo behind. You may come across a den which the children will inevitably want to explore - another photo opportunity.
Peeking or jumping out from behind a tree
Leaning against or sitting on an old gate (very cute if there are several children)
Sitting on a fence/in a tree
Perched on a hay stack (not all autumn photo sessions are in the woods!)
Lying on the ground and looking up at the sky (great for siblings)
Balancing along a log holding hands with mum or dad
On mum or dads shoulders
You could even bring some pumpkins along if you like for a really October themed shoot - That pop of orange ...
Whatever outfit you choose, wherever you decide to do your shoot, don't stress. It's a fun experience for all the family. I don't follow any regimental plan during my sessions, they usually set their own pace and that's worked for me and my brilliant families for the past 10 years.
Want to chat?