When it comes to Halloween, you want people to be scared because of your creepy costume, not quivering in fear at the thought of having to look at yet another set of deadly dull photos.
Though filled with tons of photographic potential, Halloween photos can easily lean into the realm of boring. Bland. Same old same old.
So this year, let’s kick things up a notch.Here are some tips to help you take Halloween photos that all the ghouls and goblins in your life will actually enjoy looking at!
Tell Your Spooky Story
The biggest difference between an engaging set of images, and one that leaves you wishing you were one of the undead is whether or not those photos draw you in with a story.
And Halloween is absolute full of storytelling potential. Here are a few tips to tell the tale of your Halloween with style!
Capture the Anticipation
The fun of Halloween starts long before October 31. The lead up and anticipation is almost as fun as the day itself, so capture it! Get shots of the kids picking out their costumes, practicing their “Trick or treat!” at home, getting the decorations out of the basement and putting them up together, carving pumpkins to put out on the doorstep. This is all fantastic rising action, pulling your viewer along as they look forward to getting to see the big day!
Set the Stage
Every spooky story needs a setting, so capture photos that help set the scene. Get some shots of all those great decorations at your house, and even decorations around the neighbourhood. Shots of each pumpkin, the candy in the bowl near the door, the costumes hung up and ready to be worn, leaves on the ground – photos of details add richness to your story, and help your viewer get a deeper sense of the atmosphere.
Capture the Characters
When it comes to Halloween, the characters really are the story. Seeing those little superheros all dressed up, or your friends wearing their finest zombie attire, are the whole reason the day exists! So you’ll want to put a lot of effort into getting great photos of everyone in your tale.
There are two ways to do this. First, you can get candid shots of all the characters, getting ready, role playing in their costumes, and then taking part in the action.
You can also make sure to get a good solid portrait of each one. With all the effort that goes into getting prepared, a great portrait can ensure that you do that costume justice! You can look for a simple background, to put all the attention onto the costume, or shoot the portrait with some context in the background (think a spooky forest, or a decorated house, for example).
Don’t forget to encourage your subjects to get into character and show you their spooky faces!
If you’re having a big party, a photo booth is a great way to get portraits of all your guests in their costumes! Click here to learn how to set up a simple photo booth.
In any story one of the most exciting parts is the action. With Halloween it’s stepping out the door, and finally going trick or treating! While this part of Halloween is certainly hectic, make sure you have your camera at hand to get the shots. Your story won’t be complete without this key part of the day. (The lighting here can be tough, so make sure to keeping reading for tips on how to handle that!)
If you aren’t going trick or treating, but having a Halloween party instead, it’s the same idea. You build up anticipation by photographing the party preparations, and then shots of the actual event will be the main action. Just like trick or treating, it can be hard to juggle enjoyment of the party with documenting it. Keep on reading for more tips on how to balance the two!
The Big Finale
What is Halloween all about? What is all of this effort in pursuit of?
Candy. Lots of candy.
This is the climax of your story – when your little one finally gets that piece of long awaited candy. Or maybe it’s that avalanche of treats rushing onto the floor as you tip over your treat bag, and revel in your spoils!!
My own memories of this moment include sorting out the good stuff from the stuff I’d be willing to trade. Swapping with my sister. Enjoying those few precious pieces my parents let me have that night, and carefully storing the rest for later. These are all great photos to capture to give your viewer a sense of achievement in the story.
And the Conclusion…
The peak of the action isn’t the end of the story. You have to bring your viewer down gently with the conclusion. Maybe it’s a shot of the kids passed out in their costumes with chocolate on their faces. Or perhaps it’s the host of the party slumped on the couch with a huge mess behind them. The aftermath of all that fun. Your viewers should feel satisfied that the story has a conclusion, and if you can make that last shot funny or thought provoking you’ve really nailed it.
Final Storytelling Tips
A few final thoughts on building a strong story. The more you can get variety in your shots, the more your viewer will be intrigued by each image. Change your distance, your angles, your lenses. Try to show things in a new way, and show things that others won’t notice.
Aim to capture the emotions of Halloween as well. Emotion is a key part of storytelling, and helps your viewers to connect with the characters. Faces are critical here, so watch them to get emotions like excitement, happiness, and, particularly on Halloween, a little bit of fear and surprise!
Oh and don’t forget to include yourself in the story! You’re a big part of it, after all! Take a selfie, use a tripod, or let someone else have a turn with the camera and get in there!
Finally, when you’re going through your images, and choosing ones to put online, or share with friends and family, do a TIGHT edit. Share the best of it, not all of it. If you can whittle things down to the absolute essentials – the small group of images that, when put together, tell the whole story – you’ll be able to keep their attention and engagement through the whole set.
Don’t put in 10 images of the decorations when two will set the scene. Don’t include 8 photos of your kids trick or treating when one will get the point across. You’ll want all those extra photos for yourself, but the tighter your edit what you’ll share, the stronger your story will be. The tough part is finding that right balance between telling the whole story, but keeping it focused. It’s hard to achieve, but the only way to figure it out is to practice, practice, practice!
Keep your mind on the story, and your eye on the action, and you too can take some spooktacular Halloween photos to amaze and astound! So put on your costume, pick up your camera, and get out there and shoot!
Do you have any tips for great Halloween photos? What’s your favourite part of the story to photograph? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below now!