5 Tips on How To Shoot Great Halloween Photos

Red Riding Hood as Marilyn Monroe
Boo! Fall is in the air and Halloween will be coming soon. As the holiday where everyone decides to go out all dressed up, it naturally presents itself as one of the best holidays for photo opportunities. If you’re strictly the photographer this Halloween, you’ll have less to worry about. If you’re taking photos and are out partying then you’ll probably have a bit more trouble since your attention will be a bit more split. Here are some tips to ensure that your photos come out great looking.

Put People Into Character

A costume that is bound to be worn by lots of people this Halloween is any cast member of the Jersey Shore. If there is a guy dressed like, “The Situation” then why not have him act like it and photograph him as well? For example, he loves showing off his abs so this will be the perfect time to snap a photo. Lady Gaga, Harry Potter, the cast of Twilight, Scott Pilgrim, and perhaps the cast of Kick Ass are also hot choices. Familiarize yourself with some of these characters and pose them accordingly.

This comes from what actors call, “getting into character.” It is when a person psychologically puts themselves into the shoes of another person—therefore taking on their persona.

If you’re at a party and dressed up yourself, then this may be a bit harder to do as your energies will also be split between having fun and shooting. Embrace traditional pop culture and you should be fine.

Vertical Photos, Autofocus on the Face

Shooting verticals is a proven method for capturing a person’s entire costume. Some people put more thought, creativity and time into theirs than others. While you do want to capture the entire costume it is critical that you autofocus on their face and capture their expressions. For absolute best results, focus on their eyes.

Those verticals aren’t always practical, they help the photographer to focus on one person at a time and to also put them into character. This may not always be easy to do at a crowded party either, so try to pull the person aside for their own quick and personal photoshoot.

Be sure to take a look at some of our other tips to help you such as editing photos in black and white, tips for shooting events, and our beginner’s guide to shooting great portraits.

Lighting is Important

I can’t emphasize just how important good lighting is to every photograph. Lighting can make or break the feel of many photo opportunities during Halloween. Last year at NYC’s Halloween Day Parade, I took advantage of various street lights and the colored lighting that many stores gave off. Besides the colors, the light had both hard and soft qualities to them. Look for these types of lights and think about your subject’s character to figure out what will be best for the photos.

I’m currently experimenting with the Orbis and it will be very good for Halloween portraits. In fact, off-camera flash is a favorite technique of mine and Gevon’s.

Look For Intimate Moments

Belle is beautiful

Even if you cannot take loads of individual posed portraits, it is always great to take the alternative approach of being the fly on the wall. Like most good street photographers, you’ll probably end up throwing out a lot of your photos and only using a select handful of many shots. Examples of intimate moments are like the one above with a mother taking a photo of her daughter dressed as a princess. The little girl’s expression is priceless.

As a note, crop in quite a bit in post production and make us feel even closer to the action.

Carry a Fast Lens (or two, or three)

If there is anything I learned last Halloween it is that an F/4 aperture lens will not cut it at night. An F/2.8 lens will even have trouble. To be quite honest (and I know I say this often) bring prime lenses. The much faster apertures of these lenses will let you shoot in very low light and perhaps may even allow you to keep your ISO settings down.

For more, be sure to take a look at why we think your lenses are more important than your camera.

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.