When the vibrant hues of fall begin to paint the scenery around us, we can’t help but feel the urge to include that beauty in the backdrop of family photos. And yes, photos of you all standing together under a picturesque tree in a park are nice… but you’re too special to do what everyone else is doing.

As a Columbus family photographer, I’ve noticed the true magic happens when we let go of the staged photos and embrace the playful activities you enjoy as a family. The joyful laughter, real interactions, and the shared adventures — these are the moments that create beautiful family memories worth cherishing…

So let’s step outside the box, and away from the ordinary. Why limit ourselves to the usual park scenes when the comfort of our own backyard, home, or neighborhood can provide the perfect setting for heartwarming fall memories? 

A mom and dad push their redhead daughter on a swing

Here are 10 unconventional (but adorable) fall family photo ideas that will help you break from the poses and emrace the joy of being together.

1. Apple Picking

This one works perfectly in September, when most orchards in Ohio are in full swing and the golden warm days make for an amazing outing with the family. Have younger siblings ride on older siblings (or parents’) shoulders… The very best apples are at the top of the trees! 

2. Bake a pie together

Remember those apples you picked in activity #1? Slice and dice those babies and let’s throw them into a hearty homemade apple pie! Messy hands and flour fights in your kitchen will make for an unforgettable afternoon together, captured all on camera.  

a mom and dad playfully rub flour on their daughter's nose while baking together in the kitchen
A family picks apples from a tree at Lynd's Fruit Farm in Pataskala Ohio
A close-up of a hand holding acorns

3. Fall-themed backyard picnic

If you’re anything like me, what you love most about fall is all the delicious treats. And food is always an excellent choice of activities for a photo session because you’ll never have to worry about grumbling bellies! Put together a smorgasbord of your favorite fall delicacies – roasted pumpkin seeds, caramel apples, pumpkin spice popcorn – and wash it all down with a warm and spicy apple cider as you chill on a blanket together in the backyard.

4. Messy Pumpkin

Kids love messy things. And you’re going to carve a Jack-O-Lantern in the fall anyway, so why not do it when you have your professional photographer there to capture it? Your kids will hardly believe that squishing the guts of a pumpkin is allowed during family photos… and they’ll thank you forever! Pro tip: save the pumpkin seeds and roast them for your picnic in #3.

5. Visit your neighborhood cafe

What good is fall without a slow morning stroll with a sugary pastry and a warm hot chocolate to warm your belly? This gives your family a real, easy activity to do while I capture it all on camera. If you don’t have a neighborhood cafe, we can pop over to German Village for some Stauf’s and/or Pistacia Vera as we stroll the cobbled sidewalks.  

6. bonfire and s’mores

If you skipped over #4 because you didn’t want your kids getting messy on camera, you might as well skip this one too… or just give in! Kids really love getting messy. And I love seeing that moment when kids open up and feel totally comfortable being themselves. S’mores are a guaranteed way to put a smile on everyone’s face (including your spouse’s).  

7. Organize a family-friendly sports game

Think touch football or frisbee, and you get the picture. If you want to get really goofy and festive, make it a sack race with leaf bags! That’s a guaranteed way to get gut-busting laughs from every family member, even your dog, who will probably go bonkers from excitement.

8. Halloween costume fashion show

How many professional photos do you have of the whole family dressed up in their Halloween best? I’m going to guess none! This would be a great opportunity to make a runway in your home or in your yard and bust out some costumes from years past, with a voting system in place, and a prize for the winner.  

9. Rake the leaves

You can accomplish the yard work you’ve been putting off and get beautiful professional photos at the same time. Win/win! And it wouldn’t be a proper fall yard work day if we didn’t let the kids jump into the mountainous piles of leaves. They’ll be begging to repeat this for fall family photos for years to come.

10. cozy by the fire

If your home has a working fireplace, November is the perfect time to start it back up and get photos of your first über-cozy day of the season. Find some comfy blankets to sit on or wrap yourselves in, grab some favorite books and snacks, and stay put while I take care of capturing your memories painlessly.

bonus: Acorn spoon race

Just for fun (I mean, it’s all for fun, isn’t it?) balance an acorn on a spoon and race without dropping it. This would be a perfect addition to any of the activities above, and a hilarious moment to capture on camera! 

Remember, the focus of a family photo session is your genuine laughter, personalities, and relationships. This — not the backdrop — is what makes your photos truly memorable so you cherish them for years to come. 

A mom and daughter cuddle together on their living room floor in Columbus Ohio
A family with a toddler girl stands outside of the Book Loft in German Village Columbus Ohio
A little girl scoops seeds out of a pumpkin

Hi there!

I’m Daisy, and you’re very welcome here.

I’m a documentary Columbus Ohio family photographer offering stress-free and fun portrait experiences. I hope you enjoyed these Fall Family Photo Ideas, and if you’d like to chat about your own family photos, smash that button below. Can’t wait to hear what wild and wonderful things you’re dreaming up!

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