Tip 01 · Kristen Mickulesku
Take the road less traveled.
The best way to shoot fall colors is to get out in them. Take a road trip, camp if you can. Pull over for everything that catches your eye. Take a new route and explore a new town or trail. I always prefer an unmarked viewpoint to the crowded “must see” hot spots. To me, the beauty of an image has a lot to do with the memory it invokes. Experience first, shoot second. Practice spontaneity and creative freedom.
Try something new photographically, too. I like to take a high/low approach and bring an old, hand-me-down camera with expired film or a disposable alongside my medium format camera. Playing with different film stocks, lighting situations, and techniques gives me a variety of images and helps me tell a compelling story. Often the images I love the most were those unplanned moments I wasn’t expecting to capture.
To me, the beauty of an image has a lot to do with the memory it invokes. Experience first, shoot second.
Tip 02 · Mimi McCormick
Look for layers.
Autumn colors are naturally going to be layered in their varying tones of yellows, oranges, reds, and greens. But beyond that, it's helpful to look for "layers" from a depth perspective, too.
Set yourself up so there are both some foreground and more distant elements in your frame. If they overlap with one another, even better! From there, play with your aperture if you're able to on your device: is it more intriguing if the background is blurred, or if the foreground is? Or is it just as interesting if the whole thing is shot a bit more flat, since there are various, contrasting layers in the frame?
Set yourself up so there are both some foreground and more distant elements in your frame. If they overlap with one another, even better!
Tip 03 · Justine Quinones
Forego the golden hour.
Most photographers, including myself, are drawn to the “golden hour” of photography for creating images with beautiful light. However, when it comes to fall photography, I prefer to shoot in the early morning or late afternoon. In these hours, the sun is high enough to filter through the vibrant autumn trees, illuminating the leaves in their full color and allowing me to capture the scene in great detail. This approach adds natural, bright colors to photos and offers an opportunity for minimal photo editing later on.
But when those cloudy days are in the forecast, I also find myself running out the door with excitement. Cloudy fall mornings are one of my favorite conditions to shoot in, as fog & clouds automatically add so much unique drama to a photo. The soft diffused light of a cloudy morning mixed with a mute background makes the colors of the autumn trees pop, helping create a scene that draws the eye into your image. Choosing the right lighting allows me to really open my creative spirit and discover scenes that capture the feeling of crisp, fall air.
When it comes to fall photography, I prefer to shoot in the early morning or late afternoon.
Tip 04 · Dirk Dallas
Capture the essence of autumn.
It’s all too common to shoot the beautiful fall season wide and a bit distant in all its untouched, as-is glory — but don’t be afraid to step in close and literally bring in your own touch to enhance the story.
This can be using the surroundings as actual props and framing them in such a way that transforms them into a unique still-life subject. Look for anything that can be a focal point and add visual interest into the frame. For example, you can use leaves, a pine cone, or a pumpkin - just to name a few - and arrange them following the rules of photography composition.
Don’t be afraid to step in close and literally bring in your own touch to enhance the story.
Tip 05 · Kylie Morgan
Play with texture.
This is one of my favorite things to play off of, especially in the fall, when the world is full of color and texture. Play off of the clouds, grasses, rocks, and foliage. Challenge yourself to not only shoot your subjects straight on, but rather from above, below, or the side. This not only provides for a diverse gallery, but can also evoke different emotions than shooting straight on. It allows your subject to be the main focus, even in the autumn scenery.
All three of these images are taken in the same location, but from different angles. By focusing on different aspects of texture and perspective, the same location and subjects create different looks & evoke different emotions.
By focusing on different aspects of texture and perspective, the same location and subjects create different looks & evoke different emotions.