Outside of maple syrup and cheddar cheese, Vermont is best known for our stunning foliage. Each year, we watch as first one tree, then a few, and then entire mountainsides turn from hues of green to oranges, red and yellows. Foliage season transforms entire Vermont landscapes, and it isn’t just tourists that appreciate the beauty. I, too, find myself stopping along sides of roads to snap a few photos before the magic quickly fades. Due to its allure, Vermont photographers receive an overwhelming number of requests for fall engagement photos, wedding photos, and elopement photos; everyone – even the locals – want their photos taken during October to capture the epic colors and backdrops that autumn provides.
1. Start Planning for Fall Engagement Photos Early
Vermont photographers’ calendars fill up quickly this time of year (especially October), leaving extremely limited availability. So, my biggest suggestion when preparing for an autumn session? Book early! While every photographer is different, I often book weddings up to 12 months in advance and usually recommend that non-wedding sessions book autumn dates at least 6-8 months in advance. For those that can’t plan this far ahead, it’s still worth reaching out to see if your photographer has availability as you get closer to your requested date – just know that October is the busiest and most requested month of the year. If you can’t secure a spot for peak foliage, consider a session just past peak, or even a day in November – we promise your photos will still be gorgeous! Personally, I find that the muted neutrals of November makes for one of my favorite, and often underrated, months. Additionally, the light in November is extra soft and glowy on a good weather day.
2. Plan Your Outfits Accordingly
As summer turns to fall, wardrobe choices change to to reflect the season. Often, clients will choose sweaters/tops and pants/dresses in “fall tones” such as burnt oranges and deep reds. While these colors are stunning on their own in daily life, be mindful that they can be quite distracting in photos, as your images will already be full of Vermont’s colorful landscape.
Because of this, I highly recommend couples wear lighter, neutral tones for their fall engagement photos. Why? Wearing a neutral color will ensure that you are visible in front of a brightly-colored backdrop. If you wear oranges and reds to reflect the season, you’ll blend into the photo and, more often than not, clash and create a distracting blend of colors. As a photographer, my goal is to highlight the two of you as a couple in whatever location you choose. If you dress to blend in with the landscape, the image tends to be less aesthetically pleasing and draws the viewer’s eye away from the two of you. Choosing a lighter color tends to gently highlight the two of you without taking away from the epic foliage in the scene.
If you are determined to wear a richer color, steer more toward cooler blues and greens vs. reds and oranges so that you’re complimenting the existing colors of the landscape. The result? Stunning portraits you’ll cherish for years to come.
While we try our best to predict the weather, Vermont is still, well, Vermont. The weather changes here frequently (and is often forecasted incorrectly). Due to changing weather patterns year to year, the start of foliage season varies slightly each season. Other factors such as wind and rain also affect how long foliage will last. Generally, the leaves begin to change at the end of September, with “peak” (a.k.a optimal) foliage around the first or second week of October. This means that fall engagement photos taken in early October will have a brighter mix of greens and oranges, mid-October sessions will have a range of oranges, yellows, and reds, and the end of October and early November will start to incorporate more browns and neutrals.
Long story short, the date of your photo session will likely affect your backdrop, as will the weather. But don’t be disappointed if the weather on the day of your shoot isn’t what you’d hoped for! Photographers are, after all, “painters of light” and it’s our job to find the most flattering light and landscape wherever we are, so trust your artist and you’re sure to love your images.