For the record,

I am a big fan of pumpkin patches.

But there are only so many holiday pictures at pumpkin patches until you realize you want to do something different - something unique - something with originality. Here are five creative fall photo shoot ideas for you and your family to savor through the years, that don’t involve wheelbarrows full of pumpkins and sitting atop hay stacks.

1. The beach!

fall photo shoot creative brant bender photography

The beach is forever astounding because it is truly a wonder to see, especially if you have holiday cards to send out of state. You can (pumpkin) spice up your fall photo shoot with outfits involving plaid, boots, darker jeans, corduroy, etc. for a more seasonal vibe in front of those glimmering sands and cerulean waters. Nearby, beautiful, and classic, our local beaches are one of the best parts of living in San Diego - take advantage of it!

2. A winery

family photo with fall vineyard photoshoot

Consider a family portrait surrounded by green-turned-amber vineyards, as well as the rustic tractors, barrels, and barns that are part of a winery. The rustic woodiness of the cellars, combined with the turning of fall seen on the vines, will ring in the perfect seasonal feel you’re looking for in your family’s fall photo shoot. The Bernardo Winery is my personal go-to, where there is never a bad shot and its timeless setting fits any season, any weather, and any kind of day.

3. The town of Julian

julian san diego apple orchards brant bender photographer

There is nothing like the cozy and utterly delightful mountain town of Julian. If you don’t mind spending a little extra time and money on driving to Julian for your fall photo shoot, I’m here to tell you it is the small town photo op of your dreams. Julian is just far enough east to make visiting a nice day trip for the family, and to observe real seasonal changes in the environment. Think about scheduling your fall photo shoot at one of their historic landmarks, a picnic site painted in fall foliage, or their renowned Volcan Apple Farm. Not only will your family visit a town full of endless charm, but you are also guaranteed amazing photos here.

4. Railroads

railroad family portraits san diego ca

Railroads convey the warmth and nostalgia of “a simpler, easier time.” Their old-timey, resilient and age-old tracks are perfect for unique family pictures. And for all you new parents out there, kids love the train. A railroad photo shoot may give you the perfect chance to capture pure joy on your children’s faces, making for an authentic holiday postcard.

5. Lakes

creative family photo shoots brant bender photography
When the twilight sun hits a lake just right during autumn, photos of the scene can be breathtaking. Grab your family for a fun-filled day at a local lake, and capture the golden yolk of a falling sun on water illuminating your loved ones. For an added bonus, find a wooden dock or large rock to create an isolated, end-of-summer. nature-y feel to your photos.

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