Halloween Photos — Getting Great Shots

Since Halloween is almost here, I’d like to share yet another viewpoint on how to capture the lights, colors and action shots of the season. These come from a professional photo blog called The Lab by Apollo.

How to Take Great Halloween Photos

Posted by TJ Dinsmoor on Tue, Oct 20, 2009 @ 12:11 PM

Pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, costume parties, haunted houses – yup, Halloween is pretty neat. Now that Halloween is just around the corner, Apollo put together some pointers to help you take great Halloween photos.


Halloween can be a difficult holiday to photography because most of the festivities occur at night, when low-light conditions make it difficult for your camera to get a sharp shot. The Golden hours are the best time to take Halloween photos. For those few hours or so, you’ll have enough light to forget the flash while still capturing the candle glow of carved pumpkins and the flashy colors of costumes.

When night falls, turn up your ISO setting (400+) and turn down your shutter speed. To forgo your flash, hold the camera as steady as possible or have your tripod handy. Remember, the rich, dark colors of Halloween are essential in setting a spooky mood. Try to eliminate using your flash as much as possible. Halloween is not a bright holiday so let the dark and creepy shots work in your favor.


Pumpkins make for a unique Halloween subject considering they only grow during the fall. Snapping pictures of them can be tricky because in order to capture the glow from the candlelight you have to turn off your cameras flash and have a bright glow.

Since the pumpkin is not going to move, your best bet to get a very sharp image, is to use a longer shutter speed and set your camera on a steady surface such as a ledge or step.

Also, if you have a tripod handy that will be your best option. Don’t be afraid to use multiple candles or different light sources to achieve the best glow from your pumpkin.

If your shots are only capturing the glow of the pumpkin and not the outer shape, try creating makeshift lighting. You can do this by using a flashlight raked against the outer hull of the pumpkin. This can generate some very eerie lighting.


If you are photographing children, bend down to the child’s eye level. Nothing makes a monster more imposing than looking up at the scary countenance or looking directly into the eyes.

If you are shooting two people in costumes, get them as close together as possible. People tend to drift apart when they are getting their picture taken. You want the opposite – no space between those monsters.

For more eerie effects try candid shots. The secret however, is to get close enough to fill the frame of the subject. Another effect to try is photographing a subject and in post-production tilt the horizon line to add an eerie feeling.

Creative Ideas

When taking photos of carved pumpkins, try to look for larger openings that allow as much light out as possible. Bigger openings will also help if you want to cast shadows on bystanders for dramatic lighting.

Have an elaborate costume? Position your camera on a tripod and document your transformation through makeup, costume, etc. Try to maintain the same position in each photo for a fun effect as you flip through photos in a slideshow.

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