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Tips for Outdoor Portrait Sessions in Fall or Winter

There is a special kind of magic that comes with outdoor portrait sessions in the fall or winter. Beautiful autumn leaves, snow lightly falling, or icicles hanging from trees can create a

family portrait fall leaves

Fall portrait at an Annapolis family’s home.

beautiful backdrop for any photo session.

Here are some tips to make your fall or winter outdoor photo sessions go smoothly:

  1. Dress warmly. You will be surprised at how often this is overlooked for outdoor portrait sessions. Since you’ll be standing outside for a long period of time, short sleeves, thin fabrics, and open toe shoes will not be comfortable for very long. Shivering makes it hard to look happy and pose properly! (Also, for the best portrait, choose colors that coordinate well together. These can include navy, burgundy, or dark gray shades, but even a splash of color can work. Just make sure that everyone’s clothing works well together so that not one outfit stands out from the crowd.)
  2. Wear sunscreen. Protecting your skin – especially for children – should be a priority throughout the year, not just in summer. Use a good moisturizer to protect everyone’s skin from the chilly winds and low humidity.
  3. Watch the weather. Warmer days may seem more pleasant, but melting snow can change the entire look of your backdrop. If you are looking for light snow flurries, try and keep an eye on the weather forecast to make sure that you don’t end up with melting or heavy snow.
  4. Be flexible. If the weather isn’t exactly what you had hoped for, see if you can still make the photo session work. If you had to schedule this session in advance, you may just have to work with the weather on that particular day. (Keep in mind, many photographers charge more for outdoor portrait sessions partly because they often need to be rescheduled due to the weather. When that happens, it means another time slot that the photographer cannot book.)
  5. Incorporate color. Even though fall and winter have some amazing colors to work with, why not wear a splash of color to really stand out in your photos? For example, vibrant shades of blues, greens, and burgundy look amazing among crunchy brown leaves.
  6. fall children

    Fall child portrait at Allen Pond in Bowie, Maryland.

    Plan your day. Taking your photos just after sunrise or just before the sun sets will provide you with amazing lighting, so try to plan your session around those times. (I usually don’t recommend mornings for fall photos, however, because it’s colder and grass and other surfaces are usually wet with dew. Fog can also block an otherwise beautiful background.)

  7. Bring warm drinks and snacks. This can be especially important if you have small children – you know how cranky they can get if they’re hungry (husbands, too!). A warm drink can also be great for the adults, and will make the experience more enjoyable for all. (Try hot apple cider or hot chocolate!)
  8. Talk with your photographer. Plan your session in advance and get further tips for locations, props, and more by talking with your photographer at least a couple of weeks before your session.
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