As the seasons change, so should your color palette

Technically, the first day of fall was September 23rd. Not until today did it feel like fall to me. I am not sure what it was that made today the day when fall finally hit me.  I love fall! It is without a doubt my favorite season! I welcome the break from mid ninety degree temperatures and love wearing long sleeves, light jackets, and sweaters. Most importantly it is college football tailgating season!  I love drinking pumpkin flavored drinks, and well eating anything pumpkin flavored ! With the change of seasons come not only changes in what you eat, but more importantly your color palette!

Now that I think of it, it was probably this tree outside my window combined with the pumpkins on sale at the grocery store that gave me the fall feeling. When cooking, fall allows you to use squash, pumpkin, cinnamon, and apples in any recipe you choose. If you are cooking with these ingredients, shouldn’t you be shooting with a different color palette?

The answer is yes. Lets look at this pumpkin.

Same pumpkin in each image. The only difference is that each image has a different background to it. While each background looks different, they all say fall! Fall is perfect for breaking out your rich earthy browns and any other natural materials you like.

Let’s take a closer look at each image.


In this shot, our pumpkin is sitting on top of dark stained wooden boards. A separate wooden board is used for the background. Dark stained woods are great for fall! They go well with any yellows, deep reds or oranges that your food will have in it. These colors pop against the dark background. Using wood automatically adds a warmer feel to a scene, this is perfect for fall!

In this picture, our pumpkin is sitting on another piece of wood. This time one long piece of wood is used. By raising your camera height and tilting downwards, you can have that one piece of wood be both the background and foreground. Notice the difference in the shape of the pumpkin between the prior image and this one. This change is caused by the camera angle. This brown is lighter than the previous shade, but is still great for fall! With a lighter brown, you could have a slightly more monochromatic color scheme with pumpkin bread or warm cinnamon rolls or a fresh baked apple pie as your subject. Again, the brown is nice and warm in tone. Perfect for fall.

This pumpkin is sitting on top of a piece of slate. Like the prior picture, this is one long piece. The camera is raised up and pointing down so that the slate is both the foreground and background. Slate doesn’t have the warm quality of wood, but it is still great for fall. What I like about the slate is what it looks like when you add contrast to it. By adding less fill (moving your foam board reflector away from the subject), the left side of the pumpkin on slate is much darker than the other images. I think adding a little more contrast to your images is great for fall! As well as taking a more lo key approach is perfect for fall. Fall is when the days get shorter, you can reflect that by adding more contrast to your images.

Here, the pumpkin is sitting on burlap. Burlap is a perfect fabric to shoot on for fall. It comes in a variety of textures, colors and sizes. It gives a real earthy and natural feeling to your images. Combining it with fall produce can help give it a “straight from the farm” feel to your image. Imagine having a bushel of apples in a burlap sack or finished pumpkin pie cooling on burlap. You can also use burlap as an accent piece and layer it on top of wood or stone.

These four pumpkins are only a few of the millions of combinations you can use in your food photography. There are hundreds of other ways to introduce fall into your pictures. With the changing seasons come new foods. Remember that it is also time to change your color palette as well! The bright colors of summer can seem out of place in October and November.

Remember, you are always trying to communicate a message with your image. Having the correct color palette is critical to this message!

As we continue through fall, I will show you more ways you can include my favorite season into you photography.

For those readers in the Southern Hemisphere, disregard the fall message. It is spring time for you! Time to break out the pastels! Winter is over and spring should be there!

For those of you who want to learn even more, will be teaching two 2 day food photography workshops in Charlotte,NC. One will be the weekend of December 10-11th and the other will be December 17-18th. I will be showing you numerous ways that you can shoot your food at night as well as giving your food photography a complete overhaul!

I would love to see you there.


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  1. says

    Neat! Thanks for making this tutorial for clueless people like me. I never even thought about this. All your pictures are beautiful, by the way. :)

    I live very far away from Charlotte and can’t attend the workshop. That stinks because I’d love to know how to shoot at night. Or with this horrible and almost constant super intense greyness that starts in October and stays until May. To those who can make it, have fun!

  2. says

    Another great post! I love how you show the same subject with the background changed, It really brings into focus, sorry for the pun, what difference the background can make, I love the burlap, going to have to go out and find some!

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