Spooky season is already upon us, and it seems that nearly everything we do this month has to be on theme. This means decorating the house, planning parties, and, for those of us who are so inclined, shooting Halloween photography. But of course, Halloween photoshoots need more than an orange-and-black color scheme and some candy; they’re about capturing the feeling of the holiday. That might sound like a big task, but don’t worry! Whether your preferred flavor of Halloween imagery is spooky, gory, gothic, or supernatural (or even something in-between), you can accentuate it perfectly with the right photography and editing tricks.
Choose the Right Costume (or Costumes)
Costumes, masks, and makeup are a key part of any Halloween activity, but they are extra important when taking photographs. High-quality costume items and makeup will look better on camera, and costumes that play well to the wearer’s strengths as a model will have a more powerful effect.
Unlike at Halloween parties, where a wardrobe change isn’t generally possible, the number of costumes used isn’t limited with Halloween photography. Take advantage of the medium to tell a story with your costume changes, or simply try out all of your favorite costume ideas. Keep in mind that, if your costumes require different makeup or face paint looks, you’ll need to account for extra time to remove and redo makeup.
Utilize Tools and Props
Photography tools and props are available for any occasion, including spooky ones! For example, smoke bombs are an easy way to create a big, eye-catching effect. Put them in jack-o-lanterns, props held by the subject, or the windows of the abandoned building you’re using for a backdrop for an instantly paranormal vibe.
You can buy lots of Halloween-specific tools, like bat-shaped Bokeh filters, but feel free to get creative with household items, too! Thin sheets, cling wrap, and other things that you probably have already can diffuse or blur light in lots of Halloween-y ways.
Location, Location, Location
You may already have thought about finding a creepy-looking place to shoot Halloween photos in, but you shouldn’t just use any old abandoned building or the middle of a random forest. For the best effect, try to find a location that complements the other elements of your photoshoot. If the costumes are from pop culture, find a location that resembles an iconic location from the original work; if the photos are supposed to tell a story, find a location that the story could believably happen in.
Less Light is More
Almost all types of Halloween imagery are best shot in low light. Shooting at night, or in a very dark indoor location, with something small and simple like a candle or a single lamp will illuminate only what you want the audience to see and leave the rest of the shot in shadow.
Lighting placement also makes a big difference. A light source directly above or below a subject’s face will cast eerie shadows on their features; a small light source to one side can let the rest of their body fade into the darkness.
Tweaking various settings in the camera can strengthen the other creepy elements of your photos. For example, a slow shutter speed can create a super natural-looking motion blur, and a higher ISO can make it easier to shoot in low-light conditions (the end result may be granier with a high ISO, but even that can complement Halloween imagery).
You can also use a technique called exposure bracketing, or just bracketing if you’re less familiar with this type of photoshoot. Bracketing allows you to find the right balance of highlights and shadows in your raw photos after the fact, by taking each photo at three different exposure levels.
…and Lightroom Treats
We all know that capturing the right mood during the photoshoot is only half the battle; those photos have to be edited in just the right way if you want to preserve and enhance their dark, eerie Halloween vibe. But, let’s face it: October is short and editing hundreds of photos manually takes a long time. That’s where the presets come in.
For the best dark, dramatic Halloween presets around, check out this limited-edition collection. The pack includes ten presets specifically designed for Halloween photoshoots, so that you can make the most out of your spooky photography with just a few clicks.
Prefer to learn how to do it yourself? Try this Lightroom course to improve your skills and become a master of the editing program in no time.
There is so much range possible when it comes to Halloween photography, and choices like costume, lighting, and editing presets can change everything. Hopefully, these tips have given you a good point to jump off from with your own Halloween photoshoots. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start shooting before the spooky season is over!
Share this story