You spend loads of time (and let’s face it, money too) on their costumes, either selecting just the right one or carefully crafting the details of it yourself. Wouldn’t it be a shame to not record all the cuteness–or greusomeness–with a well-captured photo?
There are a few things anyone with a camera (um, that means you Miss Reading This On My Phone) can do to make their Halloween photos a little more picture perfect.
Get Ready Early
This is the hardest one for me which is why I am putting it first. I tend to get my kids ready to trick-or-treat a few minutes before dark and then think about photos. You’d think as a photographer I would know better.
It’s important to get ready early for two reasons.
1) You will have time to give to taking photos and not be rushed. You don’t need an hour-long session or even 15 minutes, but there’s a huge difference in the amount of attention you and the children are able to give to the camera when you aren’t anxious to start ringing doorbells!
2) LIGHT! This is most definitely my struggle. It’s fall. The sun is going to bed earlier, and it’s taking your natural light source with it. Let’s face it, indoor photos are almost never as magical as outdoor ones. To capture the essence of Halloween and Fall, you really need to be outdoors.
Natural light just naturally lends beautiful feeling to the photos as well.
So be sure to get those costumes on before the sun starts setting. About an hour before sunset is best.
Get On Their Level
When taking photos of kids, bend down and shoot from their eye-level. Shooting from above gives you an adult-eye-veiw which can emphasize a child’s smallness. But Halloween is about a child becoming their favorite characters. That makes them larger than life!
To capture photos that show Halloween more from a child’s perspective, adopt their perspective! Getting on their eye-level draws you in to their world and really makes the photos engaging.
To capture that larger than life feeling, consider shooting from the child’s waist-level. This is for legit camera-wielders because it usually requires laying on your belly.
Get in Character
Think about the character your child is dressed as and how you might feature that in the posing and location.
One year, my daughter was dressed as an indian (I’d say Native American, but honestly, she was dressed as the characterization of that noble people so I’m going to use the term that fits, i.e. Peter Pan’s indians, anyway…) so I had her peek out from behind a tree as though she were hiding and tracking something or someone.
Years later, she wanted to be a bride. This shot happened somewhat by accident as she was walking along with her friends. I wanted to get a shot of her in her costume so I made her pause. I positioned myself to get that golden backlight, but I had no idea just how “bridal” this shot was going to be. I looked at the screen on the back of my camera and about fell over.
Side note: my daughter always looks older in photos that she really is. She’s 10 here.
Get the Details
Some of my favorite things about costumes are the details. You think of these little things when you’re putting it together but you might not even see them in a face-forward shot. Be sure to photograph those fairy wings, the make-up details, shoes, the way his chubby little fist sticks out of the super-hero sleeves! Anything that brings you joy, get up close and get a photo of that. If you make a photo book with your images like I do, you’ll love the detail shots for filling in and adding to the story.
My husband had the genius to photograph me helping my girls get ready for trick-or-treating one time. Though not technically perfect, it’s one of my favorite shots because it shows the details of our day.
Get the Location Right
Ok, this goes for all photos, not just Halloween. Take a moment to consider where you will take the photos.
Be sure the background isn’t too distracting.
A plain wall, empty grass, even your empty driveway can all be the perfect plain background for your photos. What makes a location beautiful in real life is not the same as what makes a good back drop. This shot of my girls on the driveway turned out great even though no one would ever say “Hey, you have a beautiful driveway, let’s use that!”
In this shot of my girls, the decorations behind them are busy and eye-grabbing. Those decorations are just the perfect touch in my sister-in-law’s dining room where these were taken, but in the photo, they’re extraneous.
I have found that there is often a bit of lovely blank wall just inside the front door. Couple that with the light from an open door and it can be the perfect location! Which brings me to the next point about the best location.
Look for the light
Avoid flash if at all possible. It is so hard to get good photos with flash. I get it; this is Halloween, and all the good stuff takes place after dark, so you get a pass if you need to use the flash.
When the sun is bright, good light can be found in the shade of a building, just inside a door or under a porch or patio. As the sun starts to set, you may need to move into wide open light and actually face the sun to get the last bit of light left. Which brings it all back to that first bit of advice–Get in costume early!
The girls here were just under the shade of the patio. Obviously I didn’t get the best background, but they were standing in good light and I did what I could.
The main thing is to remember to grab your camera and get to taking pictures!
When all your fairy princesses and pirates-superheroes are recorded for posterity, they can grab their sacks or buckets and head out for the best part of Halloween: candy, candy, candy, candy…(I really hope at least one of you read that in the voice of Garfield from the 1980’s Halloween special.)