Need Help Planning Your Fall Family Photos?
I’ve created this guide to help you identify the best timing and locations for fall family photos in and around Des Moines. Most of my family sessions take place on weeknights about 90 minutes before sunset and last approximately one hour. My typical turnaround time for gallery delivery in the fall is three weeks (so take this into consideration if you plan to order holiday cards.)
Sunset and temperatures change a LOT from September to November, as do the trees. If you know you aren’t available for a session until 6pm, then September will be best for you. If your little ones have an early bedtime routine, then late fall may work better. If you want a classic fall vibe with colorful leaves, plan for mid to late October. See the overview below of what each month offers September through November to help you plan what works best for you.
SEPTEMBER (early fall)
Ranges from 7:45pm to 7:00pm
Highs range from 80s to 70s
Lush and green
Sundresses, shorts, sandals, barefeet, button downs, chinos
OCTOBER (prime fall)
Ranges from 6:50pm to 6:15pm
Highs range from 70s to 50s
Peak time for fall colors is typically the third week, per Iowa DNR
Dresses/skirts, jeans, long sleeves - layers for warmer or cooler days
NOVEMBER (late fall)
Ranges from 6:00pm to 4:45pm
Highs range from 50s to 40s
Most are brown and without leaves (except for evergreens)
Sweaters, jeans, jackets, boots, beanies
Things to Note:
About sunset - my sessions typically start about 90 minutes before sunset to capture that golden hour light
About temperature - the temperature during golden hour will likely be cooler than the average high, so plan accordingly
About trees - no guarantees
About wardrobe - choose clothing based on temperature so no one is too hot or too cold (especially kiddos)
Locations Ideas for Fall Family Photos Around Des Moines:
Ledges State Park
This is one of my favorite outdoor locations for fall family photos and it's less than hour's drive from Des Moines. It offers many great options September through November.
Just a short drive west of Des Moines, Brenton Arboretum is full of trees and prairies. With the exception of evergreens, this location changes by the month from green to orange to brown.
Jester Park is another location with a lot of variety from trees and trails to prairies and ponds. It photographs well throughout the fall and even in the snow.
Whether you prefer shorelines, prairies or trees, Saylorville Lake offers all nearby. I love capturing your toes in the sand and the last of summer flowers, so September is my favorite month to photograph around the lake.
Downtown Des Moines
From murals and rooftops to storefronts and cityscapes, downtown Des Moines offers a variety of backdrops for family photos. An urban setting is also a great option if trees have already turned brown for the season.
Your Own Backyard
Or front yard. Photo sessions at home in your own backyard will always be meaningful, private and super easy because I come to you! Of course we're not limited to your yard. A stroll to the neighborhood park works as well!
A Tree Farm
This is the perfect location for an outdoor session in November when all the other trees have turned brown and lost their leaves, especially if you want to dress cozy in sweaters, boots and beanies.
Rose Farm is a magical place and available to rent for private photography sessions. The iconic greenhouse will be fall-themed from 9/8 - 10/22.
It will be holiday-themed from 11/3 - 12/21.
Indoor Photo Studio
Don't want to worry about Mother Nature at all? You can always book a private indoor photo studio for your session. Please note that studio sessions take place mid-morning through mid-afternoon.
Ready to book your fall photos?
DES MOINES LOCATIONS only
Fall is the most popular time for family photos and availability is limited, so be sure to book your session early! A session fee of $250 is required to book. Print and digital packages start at $600. Contact me to inquire about available dates.