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Everything to Know About Outdoor Fall Family Photos in Oregon

December 11, 2022

Filed in: Families

Ahh, fall portrait season. The weather turns, the kids go back to school, and you realize…it’s time to start thinking about fall family photos! Maybe you do it to have a photo for your holiday card, or it’s just your favorite season, either way: if you’re considering outdoor fall family photos this year, let’s talk about everything you need to know for successful outdoor fall family photos! 


family of three in a orchard for outdoor fall family photos

Why You Should Book Outdoor Fall Family Photos

When you have your family photos outdoors, your family naturally gets to have an adventure together! I’ve selected my portrait locations to share places that not only have incredible light and beautiful backdrops, but are quiet natural spaces where your family can truly connect. So the first thing to know about your outdoor family photos this year is that you can come ready to relax and enjoy being with your family. 


If you’re a list-maker like me, you probably have a ton of things you love to do with your family during the fall season. Planning outdoor fall family photos can help you check something off your fall bucket list! Whether it’s just taking in the stunning PNW landscape as it turns into fall or it’s having me tag along on a visit to a rustic barn or apple orchard: your family photos can become a memorable family adventure.


family of three and a dog for fall photos in portland oregon


A bonus to scheduling your family portraits in the fall: we aim for October, which means that your holiday cards are practically done (you can design and order them through me once you receive your gallery!) before holiday events even start. 

Best time of day for outdoor fall family photos

The best time of day for outdoor fall family photos is usually a few hours before sunset, but if it’s a particularly overcast day, we might go an extra hour earlier. Just like spring and summer sessions, I still adore a morning session in the fall. If you have very young children, it’s almost always worth it to get happy kids at a morning session!


fall family photos in portland oregon


6 Essentials to Bring to your Outdoor Fall Family Photos


A neutral color blanket

I always have a few of these to lay on the ground so that we can do seated family photos. But if you have one you love or that matches your outfits particularly well, bring it! My favorites are solid light neutral colors so that it doesn’t reflect any unnatural colors on your face and keeps the focus on you. Something with texture, like a chunky knit, can really add to the cozy fall feeling.

An extra blanket for cozying up in together

Really, what is fall without a whole lot of cozy? A blanket to throw around your shoulders as you snuggle together is a fun thing to have on hand. 

Layers, layers, and more layers

There’s nothing less fun than sitting out in the cold with clothes that aren’t made for the weather. Keep the smiles on your kids by making sure they are plenty warm. The best way to do this while still keeping your outfits photo-ready (ie, not bundled into heavy winter coats) is by using layers! Heavy tights under dresses, thermals under pants, and cardigans and scarves over long-sleeved shirts.

Hand warmers

If it’s especially cold out, to tuck into kiddo’s pockets


Leave the cheese puffs and chocolate at home and bring “clean” snacks that are small and won’t leave a trace, like cheerios. 

Tissues and/or wipes

I usually have these with me for clients to use, but just in case, it never hurts to have tissues for kid’s noses and wipes for muddy hands available. 


5 Unique Outdoor Fall Family Photo Ideas

fall family pictures in an orchard near hillsboro, oregon

1. Spend an afternoon in the orchard


Gingham dress, neutral colors, and straw hat in cottagecore family photos by Albany Oregon photographer Samantha Shannon

2. Go for serene neutral tones in a fall field


family photos on a dock near hillsboro oregon

3. Take in the fall color


barn family photos by lake oswego photographers samantha shannon photography

4. Have a barn as your backdrop


mom dances with her daughter in front of mountain view at the columbia river gorge

5. Let the landscape do the work at the Columbia River Gorge


Color Schemes for Fall Family Photos

Wondering what colors look best in outdoor fall family photos? I love sticking to a base of light, warm neutrals. Think tan, ivory, and camel—and then mix in a dash of “fall” like burnt orange, olive, or other soft earth tones. I wrote a blog post on my favorite color schemes for family photos that you can check out here! As you shop, add those fall vibes through textures and specific pieces that feel particularly fall, rather than heavy or distracting colors and patterns. Just by mixing in chunky knit sweaters, ankle boots, cozy blankets, and plenty of layers, you’ll make your photos feel especially fall! 


What to Do With Your Fall Family Photos

Many clients typically book outdoor fall family photos with their holiday cards in mind: sharing images from their session on their cards to friends and family. After their session, my clients have the option to purchase professionally printed holiday cards. I love how they can see their images in the designs right in the online shop, making it super easy to decide which one is your favorite.

gallery wall in bedroom - decorating with family photos


It’s no secret that I’m also a huge fan of turning your family portraits into wall art or heirloom albums. After you receive your gallery, we can work together to design wall art that will remind you of your family’s fall adventure. Clients love that I can create a to-scale mockup on their walls so they can see exactly how it will look before it’s ordered.


What next?

If you’re ready to book outdoor fall family photos, head over to my main website to learn more about Portland family photos and contact me. If you’re still planning on your own, check out one of these posts for more ideas on your next family photo session:

How to Prepare for Your Family Photo Session: the Ultimate Guide

9 Last Minute Dresses for Fall Family Photos

Favorite Kids Fall Clothing for Pictures: Local PDX Edition


PS, if you’ve been loving following along as I share my favorite photographers nationwide, you’re going to love my share today! Jasmyn is a Scottsdale baby photographer that I just adore, and this week her photos of a 6 month milestone session caught my eye. Check her out!

comments +

  1. Jasmyn says:

    Samantha, I love all of the great tips you mentioned for fall family photos! This is a wonderfully laid-out guide, which is perfect for busy families!

  2. […] Read More | Outdoor Family Portraits in Fall […]

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