5 Tips for Great Halloween Photos

Halloween photos are special. Not only do we get to see photos of our sweet people, but those sweet little people are in costume! We get a quick look into their personalities and loves.  We remember, “She was obsessed with princesses that year,” “He wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up” or “She loved the Harry Potter movie.”  Plus, kids are just so darn excited to ask total strangers for candy and that excitement shines through!

Below I’m sharing my tips for capturing great Halloween photos.

1. Have realistic expectations.  

Newsflash: your kiddos don’t care about getting their photo taken.  Their minds are focused on one thing only and that is CANDY!  You want them to stand still while you mess with your camera?  No thanks!  With this in mind, prep both you and your kiddos.  Decide your location and camera settings ahead of time.  Maybe you can go outside the night before to practice where you might take photos on Halloween night.  Have a quick talk with your kiddos, letting them know you will start trick-or-treating right after they cooperate for a few photos.  Bribery is 100% allowed.  (“We can get candy as soon as you let me take a few photos”)

2. Get genuine smiles. 

No one looks good saying, “cheese.”  Try it yourself.  Go to the mirror and say cheese.  Is that your most genuine smile?  The same is true for our kids.  Rather than get them to “cheese”, capture genuine smiles.  You know what makes your kids laugh and smile.  Pull out the super dumb jokes.  Talk about their stinky feet, dad’s crazy hair, and tell poop jokes if necessary.  Do whatever it takes to make them smile, all while clicking away.  This might be the time to enlist help.  I often have my husband right behind me doing something ridiculous in order to make my kids smile.  Just make sure your helper’s head stays right by yours so the kids look in the correct direction (if that's what you want).  Often, instead of telling kids to say cheese, I'll ask them to say something really funny.  Tell them to say, "I'm going to eat all your candy" or "Monsters like to sneeze" or "Halloween, Halloween, Halloween."  Chances are, they'll find these sayings hilarious and you can capture a smile.

3.  Give challenges.

Often on Halloween, we want a nice group shot.  Getting a good group shot of kids might be more challenging than landing on the moon.  This is where the “when I say 3” trick comes in.  Get a group of kids together and tell them, “When I say 3” I want you to…. (make a funny face, jump as high as you can, or give your sister bunny ears).  Then count to three very slowly, taking photos the whole time.  The eager anticipation of the “3” activity will keep your kids happy and allow you to capture some cute expressions. 

4.  Take advantage of Golden Hour.

Unless it is pouring down rain (and I hope that doesn't happen!) go outside for your photos.  Photographers call the hour right before sunset “golden hour.”  This light is soft, diffused, and has a beautiful warm glow.  It makes for some beautiful photos.  Halloween activities usually get started right around golden hour.  Look up the sunset time in your area.  I looked up the sunset time here in Northern VA on Halloween and it is 6:10 (that suddenly seems so early!).  So, around 5:10 I know I’ll have some beautiful light.  I’ll try and take my kids out during that hour to grab some shots.  As the sun sets, I’ll have to increase my ISO to accommodate the decrease in light (if you don’t know what ISO is or how to use it, check out my workshop!).

5.  Stage some trick-or-treat shots.

Since the sun will be setting so early, it will probably be dark once you head out trick-or-treating.  It’s really hard to get great photos in such low lighting conditions.  Instead of trying to shoot in the dark, get with a neighbor and stage some trick-or-treating earlier in the evening.  Capture those photos and then don’t worry about carrying your camera around the rest of the night. 

I hope these tips help!  I'd love to see some of YOUR Halloween shots.  Please share on my Facebook Page.

And just for fun, here are my family's Halloween photos from years past!