Halloween Photo Tips

Take lots of photos. People love candid photography; you are much less likely to miss the moment if you always have the camera in your hands ready to shoot. Capture the transformation into costume by taking a number of photos throughout the process. It will allow you to put together a better slideshow or flipbook of the evening at the end. And it decreases the risk that you reach the end of the evening and realize that you forgot to take any photos. As years go by, you also won’t have to struggle with remembering who wore what costume in the photo because you’ll have before and after shots.

Zoom in and get close. By filling the frame with the subject, your pictures will look better. It will force you to have a strong focal point and it helps you to capture emotion as well. Also, make sure that you are close enough for the flash to light the subjects. You don’t want to end up with a bunch of dark pictures on Halloween.

Capture action. There’s nothing more boring than looking back on a bunch of posed pictures. Remember the evening by capturing photos of your subjects acting the part of their costume.

Incorporate the mood. Use a jack-o-lantern to light a shot in a spooky manner. Or create a ghost by setting the camera exposure for eight seconds and having the person duck out of the photo four seconds after you have started the picture. With extended exposures and a moving subject, you can also replicate the look of a moving ghost.

Adapt. Most Halloween photos are in low light or at night. Set your digital camera to the appropriate mode. Remember to use the flash if you must for lighting. And grab a tripod if necessary.


Photographing Jack-O-Lanterns. Turn off the flash and use a tripod. Try various techniques to add light if you don’t get the shot that you want, from using a flashlight to illuminate the pumpkin, turning on nearby lights or taking pictures outside around dusk. If all else fails, carve bigger holes in the pumpkins to allow more light to escape. If your hope is to get cool shots of your pumpkins, start with a large pumpkin and design big openings from the start. If the glow from the inside of the pumpkin is insufficient, try adding a flashlight inside the pumpkin. If you must add candles, cut a hole in the back of the pumpkin near the top to act as a chimney. We’ve heard that three candles is the best number for ensuring adequate light. But you don’t want to melt the pumpkin from the heat!

Lighting – One of the biggest problems with Halloween shots are that the photographer almost invariably struggles with low lighting. Halloween is a nighttime event, after all. It is supposed to be dark and creepy. But the best pictures at Halloween are usually taken near dusk. As the sun is setting, the shadows and darkness capture the mood of the holiday well. And yet you can still get crisp shots without using a flash due to the leftover light from the evening. There are also a lot of suggestions online for taking better photos in low light without a flash. Use them! Adjust your camera settings (ISO, shutter speed, f/stop and aperture to low light conditions or take advantage of the night mode on your camera. If you must add light through an external source, position it low for a spooky effect. An external flash would work great with this. Have someone shine a flashlight upward at the subject and see whether you like the resulting look. Or light a few candles nearby. Glow sticks are another option if you have them. Those who must use a flash may have luck by diffusing the flash with red cellophane. Test this out before Halloween though so you don’t ruin all of your photographs from the night! Another option if your camera allows it is to lower the flash setting to 1/2 or 1/4 for a softer light source. Wax paper over the flash can have a similar effect.

Change the Angle – Don’t take every photo at eye level. Get below the subject for a menacing shot upward.

Photoshop is Your Friend. Dial up the creepiness of the photo by adjusting the light of the picture through photoshop. Or convert a shot to black and white to make it spookier.

Posing – There’s a strong urge when taking a group shot for everyone to lineup. Resist. Place people in a triangle if there are three subjects. Divide five or more into multiple rows. Have some kneel. You’ll end up with better photos if you avoid a straight line.

Special Effects – Add to the mood of Halloween with some special effects in your photos. Try dry ice or a fog machine to create a creepy effect.

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