Halloween Photography Ideas
This was a really fun and bittersweet blog post to write! While I was looking for some Halloween photography ideas to pass along to you, I took a trip down memory lane and looked at Halloweens past. I've pulled a collection of Halloween photos from the very beginning of my photography journey, right up to this week. Some things I noticed about my early days was that I loved me some pop up flash, I missed focus (A LOT!), and I truly didn't understand light. But you know what? I DON'T CARE!!!!
I am so grateful to have each and every one of those pictures. They make me happy, they make me a little teary-eyed too. I remember the day that my daughter walked out the door to go trick or treating with her friends in another neighborhood. I hadn't wrapped up work for the day. I didn't get a single picture that year. It was sort of the punch in the face I needed to get me to slow down and appreciate these days because they are short-lived. So, while my goal is that these Halloween photography ideas will get you Instagram-worthy shots, please remember (I beg you!), the memories are far more important than the perfect shot. Be in the moment, enjoy the process of learning, and screw perfection.
1. Start early and capture the beautiful fall light
I don't know about where you live but the light in my front yard is AH-MAZING in the Fall. When I was still working full-time I used to sit in my home office and stare out the window at the colors and the light and wish I was anywhere but in that chair. As I went through 14 years worth of photos, I've captured entire childhoods right in this very spot. My challenge for you is to find a beautifully lit spot and get great shots before the action begins.
2. slow down that shutter and bump up your iso!
To be clear...this is once the sun goes down. You'll want to use Shutter Priority mode if you aren't familiar with manual yet. Shutter Priority is "S" on most cameras, and Tv on Canon (stands for Time Value, obvious, huh?) This can be a little tricky but you'll need to experiment with how far you can take your shutter down before you start to get camera shake. This will be determined by many factors... 1) how shaky your hands are, 2) if you are using a stabilized lens, and 3) if you have solid surface or tripod to use. Never trust the back of your camera. Make sure once you take the picture that you ZOOM IN all the way and make sure that you have a crisp shot. I can't tell you how many times I've thought to myself, "nailed it!" only to get it back on the computer and find a soft, blurry shot on the screen. Slow down and check to avoid disappointment. Start with 1/100, then 1/80, then 1/60 (this is probably about as low as you'll be able to go before things start to get blurry, at this point set the camera down on something sturdy or use a portable tripod.)
Related Article: Getting Sharp Images and Avoiding my Biggest Focus Fails
See how far you can push your ISO up. In the ghost picture, I was using Canon's original digital rebel. It did not have high ISO capabilities and if you went to 1600 (as high as it would go, the picture would be very grainy.) The jack-o-lantern picture above was taken with a new camera that can easily go to ISO 3200 with no visible noise. Test your camera to see how far you can go before you start to lose quality. Increasing the ISO will help you keep your shutter speeds up high enough that you can hand hold without blur.
3. Use available light to add light to your shots
Look for the glow of a pumpkin, spotlights, a streetlamp, candles, car headlights (of course, not if it is coming toward you ;)) anything to add light to your shot but doesn't kill the mood. Your pop up flash will generally wash out any existing light and while you'll be able to see the subject, it usually isn't quite what you see with your eye.
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4. Can't use available light?...use your pop up flash (with these tips in mind!)
Let's face it, Halloween is a dark holiday. At some point, to get the shot, you may be forced to use your pop up flash. There is something called the Inverse Square Law (and we are not in any way going to discuss it in this blog article!) When you are talking about flash photography, it means that the closer you are to the subject, the brighter the light in the foreground and then it will get immediately darker (the light falls off very quickly.) That's why when you blast someone with your iPhone flash they look super bright and washed out and everything behind them is dark. To combat this, you want to step away from your subject when using your flash. The further you are away (without being too far away of course) the less of that "super bright/immediately dark" issue you will have. It will be more evenly lit. In combination with that, you'll want to slow your shutter down as well. This allows more of the background light to soak in so you get a nice, evenly lit subject but you don't lose all that cool creepy Halloween color and ambience. This takes a little practice to get it right. Watch out for the dreaded red eye when using flash.
5. Don't forget to tell a story!
My final Halloween photography idea has nothing to do with camera settings! If you read any of my tutorials, I talk a lot about telling a story with your photos. Where were you? What was the weather like? How were the decorations? Did you have any special props or details you'd like to remember? In my blog post on storytelling when you travel, I talk about the wide, mid, close shot. This applies to Halloween as well. Go wide...set the scene. Get a little closer and show us the players...who did you trick or treat with this year? Get in close...show us the details. Those things that make your neighborhood or your party different than someone else's. Think of it like you are making a Shutterfly book. How do you tell that story from start to finish?
halloween photography tips and tricks
A lot to remember? Download a FREE cheat sheet to walk you through the steps to get started shooting in low light.
I feel fortunate some days that I learned photography before there were such things as Insta-worthy or Pinterest worthy photos. I learned, I shot, I liked...I didn't have the burden of comparison to bring me down. I hope that you will shoot that way as well. In the end, it is these memories that you are making with your family and friends that really count.
I'd love to see what you come up with. Join our Facebook community and post your pictures there, or follow us on Instagram and use the hashtag #thebiggirlschool to show us your work! I am also collecting all of these tutorials on my Pinterest board. You can follow it here.
Related: The Ultimate Thanksgiving Shotlist
Andrea Ferenchik, Founder
Andrea started The Big Girl School because she loves sharing her passion of photography with other women. As a former trainer at Microsoft and current professional photographer, she has the unique ability to break down technical jargon of the camera into easy to understand language. She loves nothing more than to see her students grow and thrive in their photographic journey.
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