As the weather gets crisp and the leaves change, the colors of fall are all around. The bold reds, burnt oranges and golden yellows are a photographer’s dream, and many local families choose to make fall their ideal time for a family photo shoot. And while it may seem just as simple as booking your photographer and showing up on location, there are a few considerations to keep in mind, especially if you’re planning a photo shoot with your kids.

To find the best photographer to pair with your family’s personality, keeping communication in mind is key. “Every family wants a different vibe or a different location for their photos,” said Jennifer Hahn of Jennifer Hahn Photography. “It’s so important to keep communication open with the photographer to let them know what you’re thinking and what you want to get out of the shoot.” Once you’ve selected the best photographer for your family, be sure they walk you through the entire process.

Jennifer Brown of J&S Photography says she always talks to her clients ahead of time to let them know what to expect, especially if they’ve never done a family photo shoot before. “I like to walk the parents through it,” said Brown. “Being a mom myself and familiar with kids, I remind them it’s not going to go perfectly according to plan, and that’s okay. Our kids are not always going to be camera ready at every moment.” Ultimately, finding someone who is comfortable with kids will make the process that much smoother and more comfortable.

Finding a Location

Some of the most popular locations around the Yakima Valley for fall photo shoots include the Yakima Area Arboretum and Franklin Park, because of their proximity to town, along with the big trees with showy fall leaves. But there are a number of other stunning spots families are utilizing to get the best portraits for fall. “I love anything off Cowiche Canyon Trail, or up in the woods off Little Naches Road to visit the waterfalls,” said Hahn. “Snow Mountain Ranch is another stunning spot, offering a lot of open space. I find it’s better to have open range for the kids, without too much structure, and then I can just follow them along the way for those candid moments.”

Day-Of Preparation

As you’re setting the time of your photo shoot with your photographer, consider when your children are at their best. “I do a lot of shoots in the evening because of the lighting, but with little ones, it’s a slippery slope. You want the best lighting, but you want the kids to be rested,” said Brown. “I like to ask when the kids are happiest and try to coordinate around that.”

Be sure to consider a slot such as late afternoon if the kids are used to having an afternoon nap, and don’t forget to bring snacks to keep everyone happy and energized.

Choosing Outfits

To prepare for the day, consider your family’s outfits and talk to your photographer for advice. Often, a photographer will have helpful suggestions on what may be a good pattern or color to wear to match the photo shoot location. “Having your photographer give options for outfit ideas is so helpful,” said Brown. “I always tell people to try to pick from what they already have at home. Doing photos can be expensive, and they don’t need to go out to buy special outfits for the whole family on top of it.” In addition, be sure to bring a coat for everyone, or dress in layers, so everybody stays warm throughout the photo shoot.

Ultimately, setting up a family photo shoot, especially for the first time, can be daunting when you don’t know how your children will behave, but remembering to just roll with the punches will go a long way. “If you have that connection with your photographer, and they make you feel comfortable and not pressured, it’ll be fine,” said Hahn. “You never know what will happen, but you just have to go with the flow and your photographer will capture those moments.” Ultimately, it’s about spending time with your family and trusting your photographer to capture that, with the beautiful fall colors surrounding you. “Don’t sweat the small stuff. Just have fun with it,” said Brown. “Sometimes they won’t be perfectly perfect and that’s absolutely okay. Just embrace the season of life you’re in.”

Holiday Photos

For families planning a photo shoot for Christmas or the holidays, the same considerations on finding a photographer with great communication, choosing the best time of day and being prepared to have fun still apply. However, making weather a main consideration is crucial for winter shoots. “I love doing winter photos, especially because of the lighting. It’s such a magical time of year,” said Hahn. “But I always like to meet people somewhere close, where it’s easier to drive to in winter such as the Yakima Sportsman State Park.” According to Brown, dressing the whole family for winter weather is another key to a successful winter photo shoot. “The last thing you want is to be uncomfortable during the shoot,” said Brown. “After all, it’s all about having fun.”