Trick or Treat! Halloween Photo Tips

halloween photo tips

These Halloween photo tips were inspired by a fun photography project my family did a few years ago. As I photographed my daughter in costume, it got me thinking about the tricks & treats I use to photograph my kiddo in costume.  Here are 4 Halloween Photo tips to help make this years ghoulish festivities fun to photograph!

“Where’s the stone wall mommy?” she asked, her face showing the focus of a golfer ready to sink a winning putt.

“It’s your job keep an eye out for it sweetheart. That’s when you’ll know it’s time,” I replied.

Ladybug flying lessons. You know, the typical way moms spend a perfectly brisk fall afternoon with their daughters.

I hunkered down low in a grass. A mommy soldier, armed with a camera and awaiting my target. I watched her plodding along in clunky red rainboots with the crisp air whipping her fine hair all around. Then, bug eyed she spotted something and froze in place. A smile landing on her lips, she outstretched her arms, spread her wings behind her, and took off galloping (with daddy trailing close behind) towards that crumbly stone wall shouting, “IIIIIIIMMMMMM LADYBUG GIRL!!!!”

And in that moment, we each arrived at our own feelings of bliss.

Our family project came together so perfectly, it was as much hers as it was mine. What originally sparked as a silly idea of spending an afternoon playing dress up, quickly gained momentum and a life of it’s own.


With Brielle as lead actress, her daddy as director, and me as producer, our whole family rediscovered a love of reading (yay!), a fondness for creativity and artistic expression, and the idea that photography as a family can indeed be fun.

$T2eC16JHJGoE9nuQeWFqBP8DdMDlBQ~~_35The initial inspiration for our project came from a little girl named Lulu. A free spirit with a fondness for dressing up and going on adventures with her trusty sidekick, Bingo the dog. In the first book, they head to the park discovering tiny ants needing rescuing, leaf piles ripe for jumping, and a crumbly rock wall awaiting exploration. The illustrations in this book immediately drew me in as they appeared to be plucked straight out our local park. Then there was Brielle. My rock loving, animal hugging, independent little girl, who immediately fell in love with Lulu.

And that’s how our project was born.

Brielle couldn’t wait to prance around like Lulu ladybug, and I couldn’t wait to take pictures of her at the local park.

So, we sought out a costume, riffled through her stuffed animal collection for the perfect Bingo, and decided that Brielle would become LadyBug girl for the day.


Not only was this project fun for our whole family, it was a timely one too. Although this costume and these images are not our ‘official’ Halloween attire, this project got me thinking about my best secrets for capturing Halloween photos with ease.

I’m excited to share these Halloween photo tips with you below, and can’t wait to see your own little ladybugs, fairies, monsters, zombies in action this week.

Halloween Photo Tips

1) Take your MUST HAVE Halloween photo ahead of time

The most important photos to take on Halloween aren’t the ones of them collecting candy from neighbors, right? This year why not try dressing your little pumpkin (or ladybug) up BEFORE it’s time to go trick or treating. Heading out even an hour before the festivities will grant you access to the coveted ‘golden hour’ of light, and you’ll capture their anticipation for the big event before they’re TOO distracted by it.


2) Use your imagination.

How can you prompt your child to step into their role as the character they’ve dressed up as? If your little one is Max from ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ can you prompt them to “Show their terrible claws?”? Or if you’ve got a Disney Princess on your hands, why not have her show you a twirl or a dance with her prince? Anything you can to do to rev up their imagination will increase their desire to pose for the camera. In fact, they might forget it’s even there!storyboard037

3) Set an intention before you begin

I get a lot of questions in my inbox about what I do for trick or treating photos since it’s soooooo dark.  My honest answer is typically, “I just don’t take them”. It’s downright hard (if not impossible) to take ‘good’ photos after dark without fancy lighting equipment.  Since I don’t own any, I know that I’d have to use pop up flash once the sun goes down and that simply isn’t my ideal way of snapping pictures. So I set my intention to take the photos I want early. By taking my most important costume photos before sundown, I feel like my main purpose has been achieved. So instead I set my intention to be present for my child during trick or treating and put my camera away or take a few low stress snaps with my iPhone. However, if you are dead set on getting some of the after dark action on film…


4) Look light, even in the dark

Remember, the lack of light during trick or treating will make your camera want to take photos extremely slooooooooow. If you’re still in auto mode, switch over to the night portrait setting because it will make that flash look a whole lot more natural. If you’re like me and don’t want flash and get that camera out of auto, switch it over to Aperture Priority Mode (or Manual if you’re comfy there). Crank up your ISO (to a high number), open your f-stop wide (to a low number), keep your camera as steady as possible (maybe even bring along a tripod if you’re brave and want to lug it around with you)  Get your kids as surrounded by light as possible (any light). That’s what will help speed up your camera’s shutter and reduce the likelihood of blurry images.  Take your trick or treat photos on porches with lights on, on sidewalks where street lamps close by, in yards with crazy holiday lights and decor, or on the go if have a flashlight on hand.

Scared of the camera? I also have some tips to help you conquer your photography fears