How to Take Great Halloween Photos
Pope Gregory III started it all in 739 A.D. when he officially designated All Saints Day, but he wouldn't recognize Halloween as we
celebrate it today. It's become a night of fantasy for children of all ages, and with its glowing Jack-O-Lanterns, costumes, and
trick-or-treating, it's also a great opportunity for you to capture the spirit(s) with your camera.
"It's easy to turn this night of fantasy into permanent picture memories," says Chuck DeLaney, Dean of the New York Institute of
Photography, "but you have to follow two simple guidelines or, excuse the pun, you won't have a ghost of a chance."
"The most important guideline," says DeLaney, "is to know exactly what you want to be the subject of your picture. Then, when you
look through the viewfinder of your camera, make your subject the most important thing in the frame and try not to show anything
that distracts from it. The second guideline is to try to capture the 'feeling' of the occasion too."
For example, if you are shooting a Jack-O-Lantern, it's your subject. Make that clear by moving in close and almost filling the frame
with the pumpkin. Keep the background simple so it doesn't distract from your subject. Hint: To make this picture even more
interesting, include the faces of the kids or Dad or Mom hovering over it. Get down low so that you see their faces looming over the
top of the pumpkin. Careful now, you don't want to cut any heads off, even on Halloween.
Now the second guideline. To capture the eerie "feeling" of Halloween, shoot at night using "ghoul" lighting. Rule One is to turn off
your flash! You don't want pictures with its cold, clear light. Rather, you're looking for eerie lighting that captures the "spirit" of
Hint: To capture the glow of a jack-o-lantern, don't light just one candle inside the pumpkin. Two or three lit candles will produce a
far better picture.
When you take a picture of your favorite goblin in costume, have a helper shine a flashlight from off to one side or from below, the
way we all did as kids. This is "ghoul" lighting and it will produce wonderfully scary lighting in your pictures. The biggest mistake
amateurs make is to shoot from too far back. So get in close and fill the frame. You don't have to shoot from head-to-toe. Rather,
you're usually better off if you fill the frame. And bend down low to kid's-eye level. Don't shoot from adult-level.
Hint: If your kids wear a mask, take two shots - one with the mask on and one without so that in future years you'll be able to identify
the little devil behind the mask and you may be able to use the picture for your Xmas card.
"The key to good Halloween pictures," concludes DeLaney, "is to capture the spirit - the feeling - of the occasion. The spirit of
Halloween is ghoulish fun and silliness. So for great Halloween pictures, know what you want the subject of each of your pictures to
be, and make it important in the frame. Then add 'mood' that captures the spirit of Halloween by the ghoulish way
you light your pictures or the silly way you pose your subjects."
For more ideas on how to take great pictures, visit the New York Institute of Photography Website.
Copyright © New York Institute of Photography. Reprinted with permission.