Perhaps your most recent family photo is a minimum of 2 years old. Perhaps you need to fill up some empty wall space. Perhaps you've just been longing for those perfect pics of your most favorite people in the world. Whatever the reason, the beautiful backdrop of the fall season is the perfect time and setting for capturing your crew, and the good news is you don't have to travel far. Around Bergen County you'll find picturesque places to capture smile and memories with the fame. We chatted with Emily Kern of Emily Kern Photography and Colleen Carlson of Colleen Carlson Photography, two Bergen County professional photographers, who shared some inside info for snapping fall family photos.
What should families look for when choosing one or more locations for fall photos?
Emily Kern: First, scout out the location in advance and see how busy it is, especially on the weekends! If a park has nice colors during the fall, it will probably be packed on the weekends. I also try to see how many "backgrounds" each location has. By backgrounds, I mean how many different spots can I go to, to take photos at each location.
Colleen Carlson: Look for places that offer more than just a pretty place to take a picture. Particularly if you have younger children, you will get a more authentic smile if you chose a location that has things to do, such as an apple orchard, pumpkin patch or some place with animals because the kids will be more excited.
What tips do you have for getting younger kids to cooperate?
EK: I probably get asked this question the most! Before each session, I always ask what types of things the kids are into. That way, I have some tricks up my sleeve with getting the child to cooperate better. I'm also a huge advocate for bribes! Maybe a piece of candy, favorite snack or even a small toy -- a little can go a long way. Even during a session where the child may not be having it, you can't go wrong with some off-the-cuff candids!
CC: If you're taking the photos yourself, bring someone with you who isn't an immediate family member, or go with another family and do it together. Remember, mom and dad need to be in the pictures too. Children will always smile better for someone that's not their parent. My favorite way to get started is by telling the kids to make different kids of faces, such as a silly face, superhero face, scared face. The last thing I say is show me your super happy smiley face, and by that point their smile is ready to burst. Also, never say 'cheese,' is this brings the lips out in a straight line. Instead, I use 'monkey, happy or money' for the best smiles. Lastly, with a more difficult child, have someone tease the person taking the photo by pretending to tickle them or drop something on their head -- kids can't help but crack up at this.
What are some tips for finding a professional photographer that fits your family's personality?
EK: Get to know them! Follow them on social media, see what kinds of photos they post and how they edit photos. Every photographer has a different style, so it's all about personal preference. Meeting with them before your session might help as well. Another thing that is important is to find out why they became a photographer. You're trusting them with some of the most important moments in your life, so you want to make sure they truly love photography and will go the extra mile to capture moments that will last a lifetime.
CC: This is really important. While you want to find someone in your budget, it's important to find a photographer who can really capture your family. Look at their social media and website to see if their pictures are in the style you like, such as lifestyle photos versus portraits. Speak to the photographer, and ask them questions such as how they work with children. For fall photos, find someone who doesn't just set up in one location, but offers a variety of poses and locations to really capture the foliage.
What are some of your favorite spots in and around Bergen County for fall photos?
EK: Zabriskie Pond Park in Wyckoff is very cute, it's a smaller park but there are picnic benches, a covered bridge and a gazebo. The color during fall is great! The Ramapo Valley County Reservation is another great spot. The Ramapo Mountains explode with color this time of year. Skylands Manor in Ringwood, while not in Bergen County, is another one of my favorite spots. I've shot countless sessions there and the scenery is amazing and the color in the mountains can't be beat.
CC: My favorite place of all time no matter the season is Ringwood Botanical Gardens, which is a little oasis in Bergen County. They have a beautiful field in the back which presents all the colors of fall, as well as little hikes and paths, a bridge made of sticks and twine, a greenhouse and pathways that remind me of a fairy garden. It's a great place to get pictures of kids holding hands walking down a path together. Ringwood Manor also has beautiful foliage, a lake for water pictures and a beautiful waterfall, as well as tractors, cannons and stone rock houses. The Gardens of Wyckoff have a beautiful gazebo and doesn't allow professional photographers, so it's a gread place if you don't want crowds. Finally, The J.A. McFaul Environmental Center in Wyckoff has a miniature zoo for pics with exotic animals, plus little bridges and wooden pathways which offer lots of places to stop and pose.