On Assignment: Happy Thanksgiving!

by | Oct 1, 2021 | Assignments | 0 comments

“It’s barely the beginning of October, and you want me to start thinking about Thanksgiving?!” Well, welcome to the world of graphic design, publishing, and commercial photography! For those of us who like to do most of our photography in the outdoors, I guess this can be a bit of a problem. For me, it especially was this time. I might as well have been in the southern hemisphere!

The best word I can think of to describe the photos I took for this assignment is, embarrassing. Open-mouthed smile Yes, it was a great time with the family! But . . . Thanksgiving?

210918_James Staddon_1624 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 200 mm, 1-800 sec at f - 4.0, ISO 200

210918_James Staddon_1641 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 200 mm, 1-3200 sec at f - 4.0, ISO 200

And Thanksgiving isn’t like Christmas. You don’t celebrate a spring Thanksgiving in Australia do you?

I really didn’t think much about how I was taking pictures of things either:

210918_James Staddon_1668 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 200 mm, 1-125 sec at f - 4.0, ISO 200

210918_James Staddon_1673 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 200 mm, 1-1600 sec at f - 4.0, ISO 200

I might be able to make something look more autumn-like in post processing, but if you don’t have something visually interesting to begin with, or choose objects that carry the weight of the message you want to tell, editing isn’t the best answer.

So, I didn’t really come away from that photoshoot with anything that I thought could work.

In other words, don’t shoot what I did this time. Open-mouthed smile Instead, do something better!

Here are 5 inspirational photos that I found on stock websites that I think better represent what the publisher is looking for. Can you replicate any of the following?

Falling Autumn Leaves background

I wouldn’t doubt if this photo was heavily Photoshopped. If you have Photoshop skills (or want to work on those skills), then replicating this would make a great challenge. I imagine you’d have to have at least three different photos to composite together. The first, and probably the most easy, would be a forest scene with light shining through, taken from a fairly low angle. The second would be a ground-level photo of leaves in the grass. The third photo (which may need to be multiple photos), would be more difficult to photograph: leaves, in focus, falling through mid air. Kinda like the following photo I took in 2010. I remember asking someone to shake the branches so the leaves would fall off while I snapped the photo. For this assignment, I would obviously use a faster shutter speed so the leaves would not be blurred out. And, of course, you could also just photograph leaves that weren’t falling. You’d have to cut the background out either way, most likely.

101106_James Staddon_8392 Canon EOS 40D, 80 mm, 1-50 sec at f - 5.0, ISO 800-2

A second idea that the publisher liked from a stock website was the following:

Autumn concept. Pumpkins, corncobs and leaves in garden on wooden background

Notice the vast area of beautiful background blur? I don’t think that bokeh is created by an expensive lens. It’s just really blurred out. And I think the publisher liked that aspect about this photo. Lots of space to add text for a social media post.

Here’s a third idea for what to replicate for this assignment:

Happy Thanksgiving greeting text with colorful pumpkins, squash and leaves over dark wooden background

This has a very distinct “Thanksgiving” flavor. Oak leaves fall much later in the year, like in November instead of October. The multi-colored gourds provide some very nice contrast and color. They are also a type of produce that can be stored for long periods of time and thus seasonable for November as well.

And as a fourth option:

Frame of autumn leaves on wooden background. Vertical. Yellow Red.

I decided to put this option out there for you since it was creative yet so simple. Just find some non-green leaves, and anyone can do this. It’s not all about the color. It has more to do with the placement of the leaves. This shouldn’t be hard to replicate.

And finally, here is a fifth idea:

Harvest or Thanksgiving background

The angle is from above, again, but I think the hay and dried corn are such great props. The arrangement is unique; heavy on the bottom, and lightly decorated on the other three sides. When I saw this, it felt well balanced and a great frame for a simple social media post.

Most of these photos could be done in a room next to a window with non-direct light shining in. I would recommend reflecting light back into the scene using something reflective or white on the opposite side that the window’s on.

Now It’s Your Turn!

Thanksgiving isn’t all about bright colored leaves. No matter where you live, choose one (or more) of the above 5 inspirational images, replicate them as best as you can, and submit your photos before the deadline ends for the latest Shoot to Serve Photo Assignment, Happy Thanksgiving!

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