The leaves are beginning to fall and the beautiful colors of fall foliage are making their appearance. You know what that means? Photographers are being booked left and right for family portraits at the local pumpkin patches! This time of year is the most popular for taking family portraits for holiday cards. Have you been tasked with capturing family portraits?  Follow these tips to capture the best photos everyone will keep hanging all year long.

You’ll be capturing a moment the family your photographing will cherish forever. Be an integral part of the whole planning process. Don’t show up to the shoot without having planned and researched your photo ideas. Be prepared to travel to other locations if needed, add props where they fit and pose each person to fit the photo story.

Location & Scenery

Choosing a great location will make all the difference in your photos. Whether you’re shooting indoors or outdoors it’s important to know your scene to plan the family setup properly. If you’re planning an indoor shoot natural lighting is the best! Be sure your shoot isn’t too staged, but offers the appropriate props to help the scene come alive.

If you choose to shoot outdoors, planning the perfect time of day for the best lighting is important. Take your family to the local pumpkin patch, a park full of leaves, or to a farm where Christmas trees are being sold. Can you get more festive than this?

Maybe the family is interested in less conventional photographs. You could end up taking family portraits at the beach or a classic setup in a studio or local location of their choice.

Extra Tip:  Placing your subjects close against a wall and using direct flash could cast an unsightly shadow on the wall. If you don't have enough space to get them away from the wall bounce or elevate your light.


The family most likely has an idea of what they want to wear. Take time to plan out your background scenery based on their fashions color scheme. Also, be prepared to make suggestions when appropriate.


Props help the photo come alive! If the family has decided to theme their photos with a particular holiday, adding the popular props can make the photos more interested. The family, however should be the main focus, so don’t get too carried away with the props, as they can be a distraction.

Encourage your subjects to have fun! If you’re shooting outside of the studio, you have more room to move around and experiment. Take group shots, candid shots and individual shots of each family member. These could make for interesting and fun holiday cards.  Show confidence by providing encouraging feedback to make your subjects trust you and to loosen up a bit. This makes for pure and natural shots. Everyone’s holiday cards will be different. Some more festive than others, but the important key is to tell the family’s story through each photo!