Halloween is a wonderful opportunity to photograph your kids. The images serve as reminders of what kids loved at that age as well as them becoming increasingly independent trick or treaters. However, Halloween photos do pose a number of challenges. Here are some tips to get more ‘keepers’ then ‘creepers.’
- Pick a location for some ‘posed’ photos before trick or treating starts. At this time, children will be excited and more likely to comply with your suggestion to take a few photos. Find a location with nice soft light that is free from background distractions. This could be your front stoop, hallway, living room, etc. Anyplace with indirect light and an uncluttered background will do.
- Get on your kids’ eye level. This is the largest mistake I see parents make. Most photos of your kids should be at their (not your) eye level. This will result in a more engaging photo than one photographed from above their heads.
- Give them something to do. You’d feel awkward if someone was silently standing in front of you with a camera, and kids are no different. Giving them a ‘job’ will take their attention off the camera and result in them moving their body naturally. Halloween is simple: have them act out their costume. Have a princess twirl, a witch cast a spell, a superhero get ready for action. You get the idea. For immobile children, make a novel (i.e., new to them) sound with a bell, a whistle or your voice or play a game they love like picaboo.
- Take the ‘cheese-free’ pledge. OK. Raise your right hand and repeat after me: “I will never, under any circumstances, tell my child to say ‘cheese’ for a photograph.” Please believe me; this will only result in frozen faces with forced grimaces. You can do better. Use my suggestions above by giving kids a fun task to complete. If you really, really believe you need to provide your children with something to say for photographs, make it something silly like ‘stinky feet’ or ‘hubba hubba.’ And then photograph the ensuing giggles, not the moment they are speaking.
- Don’t start too late. Remember it gets dark early at this time of year so you’ll want to capture most of your photos while there’s still ample light. I’m not anti-flash. I own and use a flash in certain situations. However, most on-camera flashes produce too harsh of light and, using flash skillfully is a bit of an advanced technique. Therefore, try to photograph the images you really want before the sun goes down. However, if a once-in-a-lifetime moment happens when it’s dark, pop up that flash and fire away!
- Take at least one photograph to mark children’s ages and sizes. Years from now, you’ll be so glad you have photos that mark this time for your children. You can really use your creativity here. Last year was my daughter’s first year of ringing the doorbell by herself (while I obviously watched from the sidewalk). I love that I documented her standing up on her tippy toes to independently ring a doorbell. For younger children, you can photograph them next a jack-o-lantern or reaching into a big bowl to get a treat. Photograph older children running from house to house with their friends or eating their favorite treat from the night.
Photographing kids each Halloween is a great way to document them growing up as well as their likes, friends and developing personalities. Years from now, you’ll enjoy looking at them and your children likely will get a big laugh out of seeing what they were ‘into’ when they were younger. Have fun and Happy Halloween!