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Halloween Photography – Trick or Treat Photography Tips

Published by Alisha Fierst

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Halloween is usually an excellent opportunity for photography. It has a great combination of visual impact and activity but can also become jaded and overworked. Here are a couple of tips to keep your Halloween photography fresh and exciting.

Finding the Golden Mean

Although not inviolate, the standard rule of thirds that makes for good composition should always be considered when setting up your shots. Use your cameras view finder grid or if it doesn’t have one, try to keep the focal point of you photo in any one third portion of the frame, preferably on the dividing lines between the portions.

Frame fillers

Filling the frame with the subject adds drama to a shot and Halloween photography is all about drama, so don’t be shy of getting in close and using up frame space.

Creative angles

Add impact to your Halloween photography by using creative camera angles. The quintessential jack-o-lantern can have new life breathed into it by shooting from a dramatic, low perspective. Just so, compositional relevance can be given to individual elements in a shot by shooting from a high camera angle.


Halloween is not a one man show and is an ideal opportunity to shoot stacks of group photos. Try to keep them as informal and spontaneous as possible though. Halloween photography is definitely not portraiture!

Attention to detail

So much time and effort get s put into Halloween preparation by all concerned and offers the photographer a plethora of interesting detail to shoot. These photos are not only a great addition to the album for purely aesthetic reasons either. The soldiers that labor in the background preparing food and decorations will also appreciate having their efforts showcased in the Halloween photography spread.

Candidly speaking

If there was ever an outstanding candid photography opportunity, then Halloween photography is just that. Try and get in as many off the cuff, candid shots as possible. There are bound to be many such opportunities even at the most subdued Halloween party. Unforced activity and un-posed participation in the activities will often record the party vibe the best.

Party flasher

Halloween photography is the same as most occasion shoots in this respect – flash is bad. Halloween photography is by definition, low light shooting, so avoid excessive flash by using faster lenses, higher ISO ratings or longer exposures. If you have to use your flash, try and diffuse it with some white or colored cellophane. If you are using a separate flash unit with an angle head, bounce the flash of the ceiling or tilt the head down and use its white card for diffusion. Halloween is
spooky and your shots will always benefit from soft, diffused lighting and flash.

That’s a fact Jack

What speaks more eloquently of all that is Halloween than a killer jack-o-lantern! Unfortunately they are one of the hardest things to shoot really well. They have the most impact in low or no light situations and are very often part of larger displays or groups. In trying to get the exposure just right to catch that effect, those other elements are often under exposed.

One of the most effective ways of catching your lanterns full effect is to use a bunch of candles as fill lighting. They give off a soft diffuse light and add hugely to the ambiance. One trick that works a charm is to close up on the aperture and use a long exposure from a tripod. The lantern, candles and any other static items will be caught crisply, but the candle and lantern flames will be blurred out and create a really unique, ghostly look. This works particularly well if you can keep the lantern illumination slightly stronger than that of the candles.

Hopefully these tips will have you producing some really memorable Halloween photography next October!



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