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Taking Halloween photos of your kids is such a fun activity you can do yearly. And it helps you remember what costume they wore that year. I’m having a baby the end of September this year (it’s coming up fast) so I thought I’d get the Halloween post out of the way! I wanted you to have this post before October!
Fall photography is so beautiful! Especially if you live somewhere the trees turn colors (my absolute favorite!). And I love all things fall: pumpkins, cider, pumpkin patch, orange, Halloween, Trick or Treating, the nice cool weather, all of it! It’s my favorite time of year. I hope I’ll feel well enough to get out and enjoy the fresh air!
Let’s start talking about how to take great Halloween photos of your kids, then! I have some pretty awesome tips to help you get some fun shots this Halloween.
For more Halloween photo inspiration, check out this post from Clickin Moms for some beautiful photos!
take pictures ahead of time
Last year (and this year too, especially since I’m having a baby soon) I decided to take pictures of my son ahead of time! I got his outfit pretty early and I wanted to post on my Instagram account the day of Halloween. So, I decided to take some cute pictures of him ahead of time. And honestly, this is a great idea because it means they won’t be hyped up on camera. Am I right?!
My little man last year (which is when these photos were taken) didn’t eat much candy so it was all good. He mostly didn’t like his lion outfit and was also going through a phase of not liking being away from me.
I also decided to do a little photoshoot, and it turned out really cute! But, side note, he absolutely hated the headpiece to his little lion costume. Pro tip: don’t be afraid to capture the tears, as well!
grab pictures before trick or treating
Make sure you also get pictures the day you trick or treat! Include parts of the neighborhood in your shots. These are perfect to help you remember the house they lived in at this age in their life! Capturing these details are super important.
I really like the idea of grabbing a few pictures of your trick or treating group before the head out to go trick or treating and before they get hyped up on camera. It will be awesome to see when your kids are older all the different friends and outfits they had!
And remember, if your kid is not having it at all – it’s totally OK to take pictures of them being complete grumps because one day, you’ll want to remember that day and laugh about it.
It’s all about finding the humor in everything, am I right!?
Pro tip: trick or treating usually starts pretty late (at least around here) so for little toddlers its definitely important to capture these images before trick or treating. You might have meltdowns and tears because it’s so close or past bedtime. You also want to get pictures before trick or treating as the sun might be down by the time you are done! Get those images right away!
We go out as early as possible (we’re usually some of the first) so that little man can get to bed. This year he’ll be about 2 1/2 when Halloween comes around and I am excited to see his reaction. I’m hoping I’ll be healed enough from having our second child to get the images I want!
capture trick or treating images
It’s super fun and super simple to capture trick or treating images. This image of my husband and son trick or treating is one of my favorites! What a beautiful memory to look back on! Also, sometimes there’s fun things going on like smoke machines or bubbles. I like to try to incorporate them in my images as well!
Don’t be afraid to use houses and your neighbors as story enhancers. They can add so much to the story. Like in the first image below, you can tell it’s Halloween not only from my sons outfit and the bag in my husbands hand, but also because of the pumpkins on the porch, the purple light, and the slight hint of the guy in the door dressed up.
All these little details add up and help tell the story that it was Halloween night.
You can’t always get just your kids in the shot. That’s OK! Sometimes it’s more fun to show how many kids were trick or treating that night anyways. So, don’t be afraid to take pictures even if your child isn’t the only one in the image.
Be sure to capture the excitement of the night. Your kid only gets so many Halloweens!
Pro tip: go trick or treating as early as possible! Before everyone else goes out. That way you might get some shots of just your kid trick or treating. I like going early mostly because I have a toddler and the later the night, the more tired he is. So, I plan the night around his normal bedtime and try to go out as early as possible. That way I also get plenty of pictures before the sun sets!
have a helper
This is especially important if you have a toddler! Getting great Halloween photos is hard enough, I would definitely bring a helper along! I brought my husband and sister along. To make sure my toddler was safe. Safety first! If you have older kids, have them help your younger ones while you take pictures. It’s also important to have a helper if you take images a few days ahead of time. Just makes everything easier. Your helper can hold extra costume parts, help with hair and makeup, and can even allow you to jump in the photos as well.
My sister and husband were great! They took turns taking my son trick or treating. And I also put down my camera a few times (I wish someone had taken pictures of me, though!) and went trick or treating with him as well. Because, that’s important, too! Make sure you put down that camera and enjoy the night as well!
push your ISO and shutter speed
Don’t be afraid to push your ISO while taking pictures of trick or treating. If you expose your images correctly in camera, you will have less grain. ISO does NOT equal grain. It is a contributor, but don’t be afraid of a high ISO. When the sun is setting, you will need a higher ISO in order to take pictures in the dark. And when I say HIGH ISO, I’m talking at least ISO 2000. It’s OK to have a high ISO, especially as it gets dark.
Pro tip: avoid using flash! Flash will not help you avoid that grain. I would either embrace the grain or strive to expose properly with a higher ISO. The grain does look good on Halloween photos, though, helps gives them that ghostly feel.
For those who are still on auto mode: try switching to shutter priority mode (the S mode on most cameras) and change your setting to be at least 1/250 (on my camera – the Nikon D610 – when I put it on shutter priority mode it also allows me to change my ISO and then it will change the aperture so that your image is properly exposed).
Basically this is telling your camera that you want your shutter speed to be fast enough to capture a moving kid (trust me, this is important!) and that your ISO should be HIGH (I’m talking at LEAST 2000 here for Halloween). And then it will change the aperture (how much your picture is in focus) so that your image is properly exposed.
If you use just auto mode, it might make your shutter speed dip below 1/250 which would cause blurry or out of focus images. And you don’t want this. So force your camera to use a certain shutter speed and you will be good to go on Halloween!
lighting is everything
If your trick or treating is earlier than sunset, then I suggest you look for some open shade. Open shade is pretty much what it sounds like, you’d want to find a big tree or a building that has lots of shade. Look for some catchlights in the eyes. Avoid full sun if at all possible. Use a wall to block the sun or some trees. If your trick or treating is later (ours is usually around 8 if I remember correctly) then it should be perfect lighting. Avoid having the sun shine in your subjects eyes, instead turn them around so that the sun (or light) is behind them.
Pro tip: lighting really isn’t everything and if you end up having to shoot in full sun, it’s not the worst thing in the world. Halloween photos are meant to capture the costumes and the fun everyone is having on Halloween night. Don’t stress about getting the perfect lighting, perfect composition, have fun and enjoy the night with your kiddos! While documenting their fun outing.
avoid using filters
You could take a perfectly great image and slap an Instagram filter over it and have it ruined! Less is more in this scenario! If you’re only taking photos on your phone (which is totally fine) try an editing app like Snapseed to ONLY adjust exposure, white balance, and add some pop with a curves layer. Don’t over do it on your editing or you’ll look like an amateur! I hate seeing a perfectly good photo with a disgusting blue filter over top! Yikes! Don’t be one of those moms!
Less is more in the editing world (for the most part) so don’t overdo it. I personally love a crisp, clean edit. I like to make my images as honest as possible. I don’t over edit and I don’t add any filters on my photos ever. You could also say don’t go overboard on presets, if you use Lightroom.
All of these images are edited with my own custom preset and then I tweak it some to match the image. I also always adjust white balance in my images.
Pro tip: for Halloween images, sometimes white balance can add a lot! I sometimes like to edit my images a little more blue in my white balance to give a feeling of ghostly images. (Like the smoke machine image). Play around with white balance to add to the feeling of Halloween!
capture the details
In my family, we tend to make our Halloween costumes. Lots of little details go into the costumes, so it’s important to capture them. Get in nice and close and capture the makeup and any little details you can think of. Like shoes, bracelets, facepaint, etc. Those details are so important in your Halloween photos!
You can also capture their candy collection and them painting or carving pumpkins. Get a close up of their masks or makeup.
Shoot the details of their buckets of candy, or have their candy sprawled all around as they sort through it (like you know they’re going to!). Halloween is such a fun holiday to capture and there are so many details.
Get the details of any Halloween decoration you have around the house or outside.
And that’s all I’ve got! I can’t wait to see all the Halloween photos this year, I’m pretty sure I’ll be snuggling my sweet newborn. I’ll have to get my husband to take some pictures of my son trick or treating this year. The most important thing you do is to enjoy the night with your little ones and eats LOTS of candy! Happy (early) Halloween!
Alyssa (sometimes going by Aly) is a hobbyist photographer who loves to teach. Her love of photography started before she ever had any kids. Now a mom of two, she loves to photograph her kids, flowers, and landscape. She specializes in capturing her everyday life. She loves to teach fellow beginner photographers how to take control of their cameras and get the images they dream about getting.