Engagements, Wedding Planning Tips

August 1, 2019

Fall Portrait Photo Guide


Fall Portrait Session Guide

Welcome to my fall portrait session guide! Fall is hands down my busiest season all year. My calendar is filled with beautiful weddings, portrait sessions and a few of my own family activities. Truth be told, I love it. The weather is a little cooler, the colors a little bolder and it’s the perfect time to cozy up for a few photos.

Based on how many questions I get about fall portrait sessions each year, I thought I would put together a little guide. Here’s everything you need to know!

One note: Keep in mind, these are all based on portrait sessions in Northern Virginia, DC and Maryland. If you’re planning a session in another part of the country, you’ll want to check on the typical weather if you’re not local. If you’re planning a destination session with me, I’ll do the research for you!

fall-portrait session guide


The best time for fall foliage in the DMV is typically mid-October to early November. Every year it’s a little different, so I do recommend following along theFarmer’s Almanac for predictions. These dates always go quickly, so if you’re hoping to have pretty leaves in the background, book ASAP!


Fall is one of those seasons that gives you lots of options! You can either dress it up, or go with a cozy sweater and scarf. I compiled a list of my favorite options in this blog post about fall photoshoot wardrobe ideas.

The best time to still be comfortable in summer outfits is early September through early October. It usually starts to cool off quickly after that! You can always still wear a dress, but you may want to bring a jacket to wear between photos if temperatures will be colder.

The best time to pull out the fall sweaters is mid-October and November. If you’re looking for the classic fall vibe, it’s usually best time your session this way. The leaves start to change, and the weather is a little cooler so you’re not sweating in your cozy ensemble. As always, you’re more than welcome to schedule a session earlier and still wear your fall outfits! It just comes down to personal preference.



The sunset time changes drastically during these three months. Sessions start times range from 3:00pm – 7:30pm depending on the month, and sunrise ranges from 6:00 – 8:00am.  I’ll give you our exact start time before you officially book so you know when you need to be there!

Also, don’t forget about daylight saving time. When this shifts, the start times for sessions all shift too. It can make sunrise sessions much earlier, which can be helpful if you want to get into work after it ends. On the flip side, it means you have to get up much earlier. It also means sunset session start times shift. I try not to schedule any sessions on the day it changes to prevent any miscommunication on timing. So it shouldn’t affect your session in any other way!

Tip: you can search on google for “sunrise + date + location” and it will give you the exact sunrise time if you’re curious what to expect!



The short answer is…anywhere! Fall is one of my favorite seasons because it brings beautiful colors no matter where you choose. If you’re looking for a nature vibe, I recommend choosing somewhere with tons of fall foliage, such as a local winery, trail or park. The city is also gorgeous in the fall, and the mix of clean lines, beautiful architecture and autumn colors is always beautiful. And if you’re looking for a location that offers both nature and city scenery, I recommend somewhere with a more laid-back city feel like Old Town Alexandria and Georgetown.

For more ideas, check out my lists of favorite locations:



I recommend scheduling your fall session at least 2-3 months in advance if possible! My calendar fills up very quickly in fall, partially because I’m already booked for weddings and because it’s such a popular time for photos. Once late November hits, there are fewer couples looking for portraits, so many of them want to fit them in during September, October and early November.

If you’re one of my wedding couples, you can schedule your engagement session as soon as you book! If you’re looking for a portrait session, I recommend reaching out in the summer or earlier to book a spot on my calendar. Send me a note here to get started! And as a side note, all of my portrait sessions are booked on weekdays. My weekends are reserved for weddings, and time spent with family. 

If you have more questions that haven’t been answered in this fall portrait session guide, send me a note at info@emilyalyssa.com. You can also book your own session here!


More Fall Engagement Photos:

Old Town Engagement Photos: Rena & Long

Maryland Countryside Engagement Photos: Allison & Ben

Book your own engagement session



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