with Courtney Slazinik
Best Halloween Photography Tips for Memorable Photos
Best Halloween Photography Tips for Memorable Photos

Halloween is just around the corner and it’s the perfect time to photograph your, your kids, pets, and friends. However, there are certain things to keep in mind when it comes to Halloween photography. There are mistakes you can avoid as well as different types of photos you may not have considered taking.

Best Kept Secret of Photographing Halloween Costumes

Don’t take all your photos on Halloween. If your children are anything like mine they are itching to start Trick-or-Treating. This means that standing there while you take 37 photos of them will be painful for them and you. Instead, encourage your child or family to dress up on another evening.

It helps if you doing this in the evening closes to golden hour so you can get that beautiful warm light. Most children love to get dressed in their Halloween costume so this doesn’t feel like chore but instead something fun to do.

If you don’t have time to take Halloween costume photos prior to Halloween then take those shots first.

Just like in a session, you want to get your most important shots done first. You want the cute shot of your little one posing in their outfits right? Do it first thing when you walk out the door.

ISO 1000 | 2.8 | 1/200

*All shoot with Canon 5D Mark II & Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L

Make Your Halloween Photos Unique with this Tip

Consider taking your children to a location specific to their Halloween costume. It would feel like a unique styled photo shot. I don’t doubt the kids would love to act like their costume in a fun location.

Photo Credit: Heather Whitehouse

Take Your Halloween Photography to the next level with Silhouettes

When we think of Halloween photos we think of that quick photo of your kid in their costume. But how can you take your Halloween photography to the next level…try a silhouette shot. This works especially well if your child has a unique silhouette with their costume.

Keep in mind you don’t need to head outside for this as you can take silhouette shots indoors as well. The key to a successful silhouette shot is to make sure their is proper backlighting coming in on your subject.

Click here to step-by-step directions on how to take silhouette photos

Child in fox costume standing in front of glass door creating a silhouette

Tips for Getting a Group Halloween Photo

As a parent you are probably always trying to get a photo of your children together or with their friends. This can be quite the challenge and if we are being honest nine times out of ten our photos end up looking like this…

It’s important not to get frustrated or give up. Because the truth is this is your life at that time. The above photo was taken five years ago and so much has changed from that image. I’m so thankful I didn’t trash it but instead kept it and honestly it’s one of my favorite Halloween photos to do. It perfectly reflects my life at that time.

However, I want to help you so that although some of your photos will look like this you are able to get more that don’t.

Click here to read the Dos and Don’ts of Taking Group Photos

One of the best things I have found to help my kids cooperate when taking group photos is not always asking for that perfect “everyone smile and look nice for the camera” photo. Instead, I will trade silly photos for a couple of nice ones.

Allowing your kids to act out their costumes helps when it comes to group photos.

Also, consider your settings. When photographing multiple people you don’t want to be shooting wide open with your aperture. I suggest starting at f/3.2 and stopping down (raising the aperture number) if you need to. Remember as your aperture number increases that means less light is coming into camera sensor.

Read more about when to use a smaller f-stop

You need to balance this by raising your ISO which I will dive into next.

The One Setting You Don’t Want to Forget About

The most common mistake I see photographers make is being afraid to raise their ISO in fear of noise. Somewhere along their journey they were warned not to raise their ISO. It is important to raise your ISO when you need more light.

In fact, trying to keep your ISO low in order to avoid noise will actually create MORE noise in your photo than if you had just raised it in the first place. You want to get a properly exposed photo straight out of the camera and not rely on editing software to “fix” your photo.

Are you comfortable shooting in manual mode? Need a few extra tips? Check out our intro to manual mode guide

ISO 1000 | 2.8 | 1/200

Take Advantage of Low Light to Create Memorable Photos

As mentioned above raising your ISO is a great way to make sure your photo is properly exposed. However, remember our job is to photograph the light we are given and not to try and create bright airy photos if the image was taken at 7pm on Halloween night.

Embrace the low light and make sure your settings are set accordingly.

Need more help when it comes to low light? Check out our guide to mastering low light

Shoot From a Variety of Different Angles

I like to remind people to shoot from at least three different angles anytime you pick up your camera. This is especially try for Halloween. It’s easy to take a few photos of your child and then put your camera away. There is nothing wrong if that is what you want to do but shooting from different angles helps you to tell the story of the evening through your images.

Include the Special Details

Does your kid’s outfit have a special detail about it? Obviously with this little one as Dorothy you don’t want to forget about the red slippers. This is when the ‘get low’ tip came in handy.

ISO 3200 | 2.8 | 1/200

Photograph Them Going to and From the Door

Children grow and change so quickly, one year you may have to walk with them to the door and the next they are leaving your behind to be with their sisters because they can do it themselves. Photographing them actually trick-or-treating adds to the story you are telling with your photos.

Don’t forget to snag a photo of them as they walk away from the house all pleased with their new candy.

ISO 1000 | 2.8 | 1/200

ISO 2000 | 2.8 | 1/200

Put Your Camera Away & Enjoy the Evening

It’s important to take the photos you want and then put your camera away. Your children want you to be a part of the excitement and if you are stuck behind your camera worried about getting the perfect photo you will miss out.

Also, remember it is completely okay to take a few snapshots and call it a night. The important thing is that you are photographing these memories and remember how cute/fierce/scary your kiddo looked that year.

Best Halloween Photography Tips for Memorable Photos

  • Wendy Farris
    October 18, 2014 at 10:12 PM

    Very cute :) How do you get such clear images with such high iso’s?!! I get noise if I bump it up to even 200 :(

    • October 19, 2014 at 10:10 PM

      Hi Wendy! When these photos were taken I had a Canon MK 5D ii, I now shoot with a Nikon D700. With these cameras you are able to crank up your ISO and not get much noise. Some tips though to help you with noise with your current camera is overexposing a bit. Underexposing even in the slightest can add to the noise your camera produces. Also do you shoot in RAW? Both LR and ACR (for photoshop) have noise slider that help reduce noise in post processing. Just watch the slider so your photos don’t become too smooth and you loose your sharpness. The highest I ever bump up that slider is +20. I hope those helped you a bit. :)

  • Maryann
    October 19, 2014 at 12:09 AM

    Great post I’ll remember these tips as my Princess Leia trick or treats. @Wendy I imagine because she’s using about $4000 in gear. My gear costs a whopping $600 so I also get grain too around 400 ISO. Embracing it is hard to do!

    • October 19, 2014 at 10:13 PM

      Hi Maryann! I’m so glad you liked the tips and please post your photo of Princess Leia on the Facebook page, we’d love to see it! :) Yes you are right in that my gear helps me with the high ISO and noise. I too started out with a Canon Rebel, It’s hard to embrace that grain but it’s awesome you are! So tips I give that helped me with noise is overexposing a bit. Even being slightly underexposed at a higher ISO can cause even more noise. Also do you use the noise reduction slider in post? If you shoot in RAW and have either ACR (photoshop) or LR you can use that to help reduce the amount of noise. Just know to watch it and not over do it so your photos don’t loose their sharpness. Hope this helps and have a awesome Halloween!!!

  • Susan
    October 19, 2014 at 6:46 AM

    It would be nice to see Halloween tips for the northeast. It’s cold with bulky jacket under costumes, and gets dark really quick where you deal with porch and streetlights. Your tips are great and still apply, but our photos will never look the same :/

    • October 19, 2014 at 10:07 PM

      Hi Susan!
      Sorry I couldn’t give you much tips for the colder weather. :( That year was a pretty warm Halloween, usually our Halloweens are rainy here in the good ole PNW. But when it’s dark I’d really work with your street lights. If you are able to crank your ISO, position yourself to snap your photos with your child under that light. Last year that’s what I did. It’s the second photo in this post. http://www.melissanoste.com/happy-halloween/ Honestly since we were going out later at night because she is now older I knew I had to really watch mine and her position to the light available to me. I will however put in the request to the other ladies for a possible future post. :)

  • October 31, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    Thank you for these- especially the last one:) I can totally see myself behind the camera and missing the moment a little. These are gorgeous! I’m always afraid of bumping up my ISO. http://Www.daniellegeriphotography.com

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