A pumpkin patch photoshoot has been on my photo bucket list for a few years now. Pumpkin patches aren’t has common in the UK as across the pond, so there aren’t as many options. Couple that with the fact that Autumn is the busiest time of year and this year is the first chance I’ve had to visit.
I was more excited than the kids!
We visited Pencoed Fach Organic Farm in South Wales for our trip.
f you’re in the local I highly recommend a visit, the staff were super friendly, there were plenty of pumpkins available and the prices were great.
Let’s dive in to my top tips for your pumpkin patch photoshoot!
Get the Best Light by Going Early or Late
On sunny days, the light is harsh and strong in the middle of the day, even in Autumn.
Whilst sunny days make the farm look great, the light is not very flattering on faces, as it causes to harsh shadow and squinting.
Instead, go early in the morning or later in the afternoon. The sun is lower in the sky then, it’s softer and more flattering for portraits. Plus, you’ll get that dreamy golden Autumn glow in your portraits.
Don’t Just Focus on The Display
Most pumpkin farms have a display where you can take photos. Ours had a great one, plus it was in a polytunnel facing the entrance, so there was plenty of natural, even light to work with.
The displays are great for a snapshot, but they can be busy, so you’ll find it hard to avoid people in your background. Take your shot on the display, but spend most of your time in the field. This is where you’ll get action shots of the kids, more natural expressions (because they’re not posing) and interesting light to work with.
Take a Mixture of Wide and Close Up Shots
Tell the story of your pumpkin farm adventure by mixing up your shots. Stand back and take wide shots showing your children in their location, and then closer shots for more traditional portraits.
Get Down Low to Capture the Action
Pumpkins grow low to the ground, so you’re gonna have to get down low (and probably muddy!) to get the best shots.
Crouching down allows you to be part of the image. Instead of looking down on your child, shooting on their level makes you part of their world, and you get the best view of the pumpkins.
Candid Photos Beat Posted Shots
Sure, you could get your kids to stand still and pose, but if you want real smiles and engaging photos, let them play and capture them acting natural.
If you struggle to capture images without any posing, try using suggestions instead of posing. This way you get natural images, but you still have some control.
Here are some ideas to get the kids to cooperate
- Play hide and seek – make it teams of kids vs grown ups if you want photos of them together
- Wheelbarrow races – place the wheelbarrows in the spot you want the photos beforehand
- To get them to move into the right spot for your photo, challenge them to find a pumpkin in a certain area
- Give them tasks to stop them wandering off – e.g. what’s the smallest pumpkin they can find, biggest, greenest etc.
- Show me! If you want them to look at the camera, ask them to show you what they have found (don’t overuse this, they wise up pretty fast!).
Read my tips on how to get real smiles from children here
Show Off the Seasons Colours
Autumn is such a beautiful time of the year, it would be a shame to just photograph the fields. Try to incorporate some of the wider environment to show off those beautiful Autumn colours!
If you use Photoshop – check out my video tutorial on how to boost Autumn colours in Photoshop
Look for the Light
When choosing a spot to photography, don’t just look at the scenery. Look at the light as well. Check there the sun is in relation to your shot.
Look at your children and see how the light effects. If it is cause bright spots and shadows on their faces, move positions until the light looks even on their faces.
In the image below the children are facing the sun The sun is lighting their faces so we don’t have to worry about shadows. The colours are vibrant and there is a lot of contrast.
This is called front lighting. Be careful to expose your image correctly when you are front lighting as otherwise you could have blown highlights on skin – not a good luck.
This image was shot from the opposite direction, with the sun behind them. Images shot in this light usually need to be edited to bring back some contrast and vibrancy, but you do get some beautiful light effects when back lighting.
It can be hard for your camera to grab focus when backlighting. If you are struggling to get focus try these tips:
- Find a spot where there is something partially blocking out the light, like these trees in the background, so it is not spilling right into your lens.
- Use a lens hood
- Cover the top of your lens with your hand, focus, then let go before you take the shot
- Point your lens down slightly so that you are not pointing directly at the light
Avoid The Crowds
It may seem like we had the field to ourselves in these images, but that wasn’t the case. It was pretty busy on the pumpkin farm and we had to move around to get away from the crowds. These photos below show how many people there were around us.
There’s no magic wand to avoid crowds in your photos, we just moved around and waited for quieter times. Of course, you can Photoshop out people in the background, but if it’s more than a few people it get’s time consuming. I think in the images above I only had to Photoshop one person out of an image, for the rest I just looked for spots that were quieter and made sure there were no people in my frame. Just be patient and move around and you’ll get some people free shots.
Take Lots of Photos
Take advantage of digital photography and take lots of photos. I took about 200 photos during our pumpkin patch photoshoot but I’ll only edit and share around 20. The rest I dismissed for various reasons such as bad lighting, over or under exposed, blinking, funny expressions or being out of focus.
Some people may think this is too much, and many photographers say that you should spend time to get the perfect shot rather than take a lot of photos. But for me this works. Sure, not every photo is worthy of the photo album, but I enjoy shooting moments as they arise. Plus, children are quick and unpredictable, a few missed shots are to be expected.
So don’t worry if not all your images are masterpieces. Shoot lots, experiment, and get the one photo you love.