Fall Photos: How to Step up Your Game


Photo Credit: Kenneth DM. Example of simple background, eye level angle, and turning away from camera.

The sun is close to setting as you’re driving up the canyon. Looking around, there is color everywhere the eye can see, bright oranges and yellows with the scent of fall in the air. Right now is the best time to take pictures and there are many ways to improve to make them better and more fun.

First, choose a place to take pictures. Up the canyons or a mountain are good options because the leaves are falling and changing colors. Avoid areas that have a boring or busy background. 

“Simple backgrounds are really good, like brick walls [and] white backgrounds… [Although] you don’t want to find something that’s, like, too bland,” says Malia Bodily, a 2020 graduate of Bingham High School. “You want the people to stand out, but you don’t want the background to stand out even more I guess. So you want it to kind of … blend together [and] have both of them stand out in a way.” 

Fall leaves make a great background, as they are colorful and interesting and simple at the same time. I like to take a drive up either the Big or Little Cottonwood Canyon, and look for where the leaves are most vibrant. I usually just pull off on the side of the road when I find an area that looks pretty.

Second, when posing people, don’t have them face directly at the camera. It often is more flattering and accentuates their features to have them turned. When positioning a group of people, let them stand together and make sure they mingle so it is balanced. A good rule of thumb is tall people in the back and shorter in the front. Then look for little things. Make sure people are standing straight, not too close or far from each other, and aren’t blocking one another. 

Third, try different angles. Pictures at eye level are usually best, but you can also stand above or below the subjects. Using different angles gives the eye something new to look at. Standing uphill or on a rock to take pictures can eliminate the possibility of the subject having a double chin. Whereas standing below can give the impression that the person is on a pedestal and important. With the fall colors, do whatever looks best for the people and includes the beautiful background.

Fourth, the best lighting is natural lighting, and being outside to take pictures is perfect. The best time to take pictures using natural light is called the “golden hour.” Right before sunset or sunrise, there’s a beautiful aura to everything and the light and shadows are balanced. Avoid speckled shade and the middle of the day; the harsh light creates harsh shadows.

Fifth, DSLR cameras are excellent quality, but can be tricky to work with. There are presets that can be used on those cameras to make the pictures easier, but it can’t give a specific look or flair.

New phones have great cameras that also work well for picture taking as they are handy and easy to use. Gorgeous fall pictures can be taken with any camera, so if a phone or a simple camera is what is accessible, use it.

“Even though you have way more control over the DSLR,” says Tyler Hoffmeyer, the yearbook and photography teacher at Bingham High School. “It’s just more likely that you have your phone with you.”

 Last but not least, take lots of pictures because deleting is always an option. Have fun with it, and remember that photography skills will improve with practice. Now is the best time of the year to take pictures, so get out there!