As a Columbus Ohio family photographer, there’s no question about it: the months of September – November are my busiest of the year! As I help my clients prepare for their sessions, we cover all of the points like what to wear and how to prepare the kids. But during the fall, there are a few extra considerations everyone should know and today I’m compiling them into a “fall survival guide.” So if capturing your family’s story is on your priority list this season, my favorite tips will help you get it done AND keep it low-stress for everyone involved. 

Tiffany lifts baby Luna up into the air in front of a brick house

Choosing a month

During the months of September through November, those trees put on a show with their stunning shades of red, gold, and orange. In central Ohio, the peak color extravaganza usually happens around mid-October, but honestly, you’ll find some element of color from early September all the way to late November and each month has its own charm. October is typically the most in-demand month for family photographers, so if peak foliage is important to you, it’s beneficial to book early.

My recommendation: schedule your session for September. The golden, warm afternoons and longer days still give glimpses of summer but without the oppressive heat. Outdoor scenery is still lush and colorful with wildflowers, and early fall activities like apple picking and tending to the veggie garden are popular with kiddos. 

Little boy riding on his dad's shoulders

Time of day

As the sun casts its warm glow during the “golden hours,” shortly after sunrise and just before sunset, your family will bask in soft, flattering light. Planning an outdoor photo session during these times will give you a consistent and beautiful collection of photos. Keep in mind that the weather gradually cools and gets more gloomy as autumn progresses, so later morning or early afternoon might be better suited for comfort. Temperatures can range from 50F to 70F during the fall, so layering clothing is a good practice from both a style and practicality standpoint.

My recommendation: if you have babies or young kids who don’t do well in the evenings, schedule a session in the morning. You could also do an in-home session anytime that works around naps and routines, even into November, since you’ll be comfy and warm.

A little girl in a red jumpsuit and blue eyes


Nature’s got some serious skills when it comes to setting the scene, and here in central Ohio, it’s all around us. Think about the places you love spending time together as a family, and go from there. Perhaps you enjoy strolling down the street in the early evening, or maybe there is a local hangout or playground that brings back happy memories. You don’t have to go far – you probably have fall colors in your backyard! If you’re adventurous, check out this list of places to take pictures in Columbus Ohio for inspiration. 

My recommendation: Columbus metroparks are a total zoo in the fall (and not in a good way). If you want a private and personal experience, have a photo session at your home. It’s also the most convenient as you need within arm’s reach. It doesn’t mean we need to stay inside the whole time. We can venture into the backyard, onto the front porch, or go on a walk. Photos at home provide a level of comfort and personality that you just can’t get from a random park.

What to wear

You don’t want the whole family in matching outfits like you’re about to drop a 90s pop album, but you do want to coordinate. Warm tones, textured fabrics, and layers are your BFFs during the fall. Remember to prioritize comfort for everyone as the temperatures drop. Sweaters, scarves, and cozy jackets will keep everyone warm and happy. Your clothing should reflect your family’s personality while providing practical function.

My recommendation: For a unique approach to color combos, try a complementary color palette (think purples with yellows, reds with greens). Check out this article for exactly what to wear for fall family photos.

A mom in an emerald green sweater gives her toddler son a piggy back ride at a park in Columbus Ohio


Prepping is important for any photo session, but especially the fall when there are a few other factors to consider. Talk over the session plan with your family so everyone arrives with a relaxed mindset, ready to enjoy the experience. Plan your outfits ahead of time and ensure they’re clean and ready to go. If you’re opting for an outdoor shoot, keep in touch with your photographer and be flexible. As the weather gets more dicey, you might need to reschedule or have your session during a different time of day for the best result. If you’ll be at home, check out this article on how to prepare your home for a photo session. 

My recommendation: read your client contract + prep materials provided by your photographer, so you understand rescheduling policies. If sticking to an exact date is a priority, you can always have a session at home. If the weather’s nice you can always pop outside for some fall action! 

A mom and dad push their redhead daughter on a swing

Things to bring

Pack a small tote bag with essentials like tissues/wet wipes, makeup, a comb, bobby pins, and water. If kiddos are involved, also pack a few “clean” snacks (not to be used as a bribe) and a favorite comfort toy. For young kids and toddlers, you may also want to pack a change of clothes in case of accidents. On colder days, consider bringing some seasonal drinks like hot cocoa or apple cider to create a cozy atmosphere and warm everyone’s bellies.

My recommendation: Pack this bag the night before when you’re not rushing and trying to manage all the things… you’ll be so glad you did! 

Getting creative with your photos

The best photos happen when your family is connected and enjoying time with each other, not looking at the camera. You can inject a sense of playfulness into your photos by picking 1-2 activities to do during photo time. Decorate pumpkins, share laughter during a family picnic, or have a rowdy leaf-fight. These interactions capture genuine joy in a way that posing cannot, and you’ll be so glad to have those heartwarming memories frozen in time. 

My recommendation: Check this list of 10 fall family photo ideas, none of which involve standing under a tree! 

A little girl scoops seeds out of a pumpkin

Printing times & holiday cards

Printing your photos is arguably the most important part of the photography process and not to be skipped over! Printed heirlooms make the most thoughtful gifts for just about anyone on your list. But as printing labs have holiday order cutoff deadlines, you’ll want to ensure you are planning ahead. Check with your photographer to get an idea of turnaround times for receiving your digital images, and printing times for their professional lab. Ensure you are booking far enough in advance to accommodate for that.

My recommendation: As I tell my clients, plan for 6 weeks in between the session and delivery of the final PRINTED products ordered in their gallery storefront. For Christmas delivery of albums, frames, or other large custom artwork, the session must be scheduled before or on Oct. 27th. For Christmas delivery of cards, prints, or other small photo gifts (ornaments, calendars, etc.) the session must be scheduled before or on Nov. 15th. 

An array of various holiday cards on a table

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 The ultimate survival guide for fall family photos, 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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