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Posted by James Maynard – October 19, 2012 browse all

Halloween Photography Tips

Halloween photography can make for some of the most memorable pictures of our lives.

Like any other sort of photos, the rules and suggestions for producing great Halloween pictures are going to be many of the same ones that make for great photos at any time of year.

One of the things you are going to want to keep in mind for great Halloween photos is the rule of threes. This is one of the first rules taught in any photography course, and it is simple to master. As you look at a potential shot on the screen of your digital camera or through your viewfinder, imagine that there is a grid imposed over the image with two vertical and two horizontal lines, similar to a tic-tac-toe box, forming a three-by-three box of equally sized squares.


Try to arrange your shot so that the parts of your image to which you want to draw attention are located at one of the four points where the lines meet. Secondarily, use the four imaginary lines as secondary spots of concentration. For Halloween photography, this means that you could get some great results in Jack-o-lantern photographs by framing your photo so that the glowing eyes and/or mouth fall on the intersection points. It is on these areas that people’s eyes will naturally fall as they examine your photos of The Day of the Dead.

As you do your Jack-a-lantern photos, try zooming in on them, getting as close as your camera will allow. This will lend an air of spookiness and creepiness to the photographs that will work well with the Halloween season.

As you are taking pictures during the celebrations leading up to the holiday, you can get some great effects from treating jack-o-lanterns as you would people, leaving more room on the side of their face to which they are looking. If the person or carved gourd you are taking a picture of is looking to their right (your left), leave more room on the left side of the photo. The human mind has a habit, once it sees eyes, to look in whatever direction the person they are viewing is staring. Take advantage of this by leaving room for the viewer’s eye to travel.

Kids in costumes is one of the most delightful things about the Halloween season, and photographing them presents some unique opportunities for great shots. Not only should you get the usual angles from above the children, like they are arriving at a door, but you should also get pictures from below. While you are down there, try shining a light upward on the faces of the children, as you bring the camera in close on their mask. The effect, done correctly, is reminiscent of the old horror films of the 1920′s and 1930′s. When you are doing your digital processing of these shots, try editing some in black and white or sepia versions, and play around with any setting that could make it look like a frame from an old scratched film.

For a spooky photo at Halloween, take pictures of people holding lit jack-o-lanterns up against the sky at dusk. Turn off your flash, and the person and decorative gourd can be silhouetted against the darkening sky. Since Halloween photography is often done at night, if you have a SLR camera with interchangeable lenses, use the largest aperture lens possible. Otherwise, you will want to use longer exposure times, which can produce either desirable or not-so desirable effects depending on the circumstances. Also use a tripod whenever possible when shooting the in low-light conditions. Using a flash can produce harsh edges in your photos and can drown out candlelight, which most people want to avoid. However, some photographers tend to enjoy the effects they get from putting a red diffuser over their lens for photographs of the Halloween season.

Try out these tips and tricks and see what you think. After importing the photos to Lightroom, enjoy them on your iPad with Mosaic View.