Get the Best Fall Foliage Shots

In yesterday’s issue, our Featured Publication, Wendy VanHatten made a very good point when she said: If your goal is to write for big-name magazines like Budget Travel, you’d be well advised to have a few published clips to wave around first.

Of course, our aim here is to help you land them.

And so I was particularly happy to hear from editor Tom Schueneman today.  He's at the helm of The Traveler, a monthly e-letter housed at, and he called this week to say that he’s putting together his third annual “Fall Color” issue this month.

He writes, "I'd love to get some great fall photos in my mid-October issue. And if contributors can add an article to go with them, even better.  I can pay $10 for each photograph I publish and my standard $40 for each article."

If you have a photo or two to submit to Tom -- or an idea for an article -- let him know I sent you. You'll find his writer's and photographer's guidelines here.

And if you don’t yet have a photograph to sell, consider taking some over the next few weeks.  Here are eight tips I lifted from our Holiday Photo Guide: 83 Quick Tips for Taking the Best Holiday Photographs Ever to help you improve your odds of getting not just memorable -- but saleable -- shots:


TIP #1: Include a dominant feature in the photo. Colored leaves are pretty, but consider adding something else to draw the viewer’s attention. This focal point can be a tree, a rock, a person, a mountain or a small section of any one of these. And it will also help show off the scale of your landscape.

TIP #2: Look for diagonal lines. Diagonal lines lead the viewer’s eye into the photograph.  They typically start in one of the four corners of your picture and stop around the center or cut all the way across.  Sidewalks, fences, roads, bushes… can all be used to create diagonals.  Rather than stand straight in front of them (so that they cut across your picture horizontally), walk to one side until they form a diagonal that starts in one of the corners of your frame.

TIP #3:  Add people. People add interest to photos. A multicolored mountainside takes on different shades of meaning when you see a hiker at the base. A playful child transforms a pile of leaves into something much more special.

TIP #4: Adjust your camera settings to intensify fall colors. Break out the manual. Change the saturation level in your camera’s adjustment level. Digital shooters can also turn off automatic white balance, which neutralizes vibrant colors. Or you can achieve the same effect in a program like Photoshop. Use the “Hue and Saturation” tool, and increase the saturation by 10-20%. Film shooters should be aware that different films show more saturated colors. Try Fuji Velvia for a richer color palette.

TIP #5: Great fall photographs aren’t always about color. You can create a mood with your photographs by shooting in the early morning mist or simply testing different tones (like black and white and sepia) in your camera or in Photoshop.

TIP #6: Bring a tripod with you. The longer your lens and the further you zoom it, the more susceptible your pictures are to camera shake.  If you’re using a shutter speed slower than 1 over your lens length, even the slightest vibration or movement can ruin the shot. Once the fall colors peak, you have a relatively short window of time before the trees shed their leaves. Don’t let your careful planning go to waste.

TIP #7: Carry a small beanbag if you’re using a long lens. This inexpensive tool can also help avoid camera shake. Most drug stores carry these bags — the kind you heat in the microwave and place around your neck to relax muscles. Once you put the camera on the tripod, lay the beanbag over the lens. This will deaden the tiniest vibrations, which a long telephoto can magnify

TIP #8: Take along a step ladder. A ladder can serve two functions. It gives you an unusual shooting perspective, and it offers a steady spot to place the camera, reducing shake. Most people experience the fall colors five or six feet from the ground. Shooting from eight or 10 feet can make a subtle but pronounced difference.

YOUR TASK THIS WEEKEND: Get out of the house. Grab your camera and a notebook and look for something to photograph and/or write about. (It might be something for Tom's Fall Color issue… or maybe a bargain travel story for a publication like Budget Travel.)

Stories that save readers money are popular at lots of travel publications… so it's a smart place to focus your energies.

Tomorrow, I’ll send you some advice from freelance travel writer Jennifer Stevens on just how to write them.

Follow her advice… find a bargain travel story near you… and promise yourself that by the time you sit down for dinner on Sunday, you'll have at least a dozen photos to look through and the content for a bargain travel article that could just land you a by-line before the end of the month.

Keep your eyes out for Jen's article tomorrow.  And as always, keep me up-to-speed on your travel-writing or photography success. If you have a story to share, send me a quick note at

Have a great weekend,

-- Lori

Lori Appling
Director, Great Escape Publishing

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]