It’s been two years since I’ve been motivated to photograph Halloween with my girls. I mean, technically, I could have photographed last year – but it was dark and raining in Costa Rica. ¡La lluvia no es buena para las fotografías!
The year prior to last, I did pull my camera out for a few shots, but only for portraits of the costumes (remember Kenzie the cupcake? OMG. Sooo tiny and bald!).
Anyone who knows me or follows my work knows I love to tell stories with my pictures, and last time I really captured the entire story of trick-or-treating Maddie was two and Kenzie was in my belly.
A few friends and Click and Capture alumni have reached out over the past two weeks asking if I have any tips for photographing Halloween. Instead of responding to each individually, I promised to put together a blog post for some very basic tips for photographing your kids trick-or-treating. Well, in usual Ashley Rogers fashion, I’ve waited until the last possible second. But I work best under pressure. So here goes nothing….
1) Safety First. Maybe it’s being back to work in the corporate world, but I feel it is necessary to say that the first thing you should always consider when taking pictures outdoors with lots of excited and distracted kids (and drivers) roaming the street is to be mindful of your surroundings. Please, don’t be too distracted by your quest for the perfect image. No image is worth anyone getting hurt.I have no image to share with tip one, because I am always safe. Haha <3
2) Time your “head out time” according to the sunset! You can google “Sunset on October 31, 2017 in Oviedo, Florida” for example and amazing Google will tell you the exact time it will set. For the best light, you want to plan to head out trick-or-treating the hour before sunset. Where I live, the sun will be setting at 6:40 p.m. So I plan to head out around 5:45 -6. Any sooner, you might end up with really harsh light (if it isn’t cloudy) and it can be difficult to take photos in harsh light. Once the sun dips low enough (starts to happen the hour prior to sunset) you get nice, even, golden light – and that’s much more flattering.
3) Be mindful of composition. Looking back at some of my photos from two years ago, a lot of what I’m seeing in them that makes them seem less “technically strong” is my composition. There are simple things you can do to make an image stronger. Like in this image, if I would have stepped back a bit, I wouldn’t have chopped her feet off. Her tap shoes are part of her costume, hence part of the story. Look before you click. If you’ve chopped off a leg or an arm, take a step back and try the shot again – limbs included!
And in this shot, I had her right in the center of the frame. This one would have been stronger if I would had positioned my camera differently. If i would have taken a few steps to my right (to put her on the first third of the frame), gotten lower to the ground and shot her straight on (so the garage door would be the background instead of the random patch of grass) it would have made such a difference here!
4) Don’t forget the candid shots. Of course, all moms want the “look at me and smile” shot but don’t put the camera down after you’ve checked that off the list. Some of my favorite images from two years ago are the candid ones of Maddie checking out her candy, strolling on the sidewalk, walking up to the door of a neighbor’s house to trick or treat. Seeing these takes me right back to that moment two years ago. My, how fast time flies.
5) Just say no to pop up flash. I know, your fancy camera has a pop up flash and it triggers automatically when it needs to in auto mode. Makes your life so much easier. I get it, I do. But please, just try. Just TRY to avoid using that thing. Pop up flash is not flattering. If you’ve never shot in manual mode, do not try tomorrow. Just don’t do it – you will get frustrated trying to figure out what all the numbers mean on your own and give up. If you have shot in manual but you’re a little rusty, I cannot tell you the magic combination of numbers to use because it’s all about the light you have available to you. But, I would guess that you can try to set your ISO between 400-800 at the start of the evening, your aperture wide open if you’re on a kit lens or 2.8 if you have a nice prime (or wider if your confident in your ability to shoot wide open), and then adjust your shutter speed. If your shutter speed is able to stay above 1/250 with the combination of ISO and aperture you’ve chosen – great. If not, crank the ISO – but don’t dip the shutter. I repeat, do NOT let your shutter speed go too low. You will likely end up with blurry images. And remember, as the light goes away (as it gets later) you will need to crank the ISO. Your settings at the beginning of the night will be different than the settings at the end of the night.
IF that was gibberish to you but you’re motivated, you can put your camera in Aperture Priority and set the aperture as wide open as your lens allows and that will likely get you better results than auto – especially as the sun starts to get lower (when the pop up flash tends to come out). Then, you can sign up for my Click and Capture class and I’ll teach you everything you need to know about taking control of your DSLR camera. <3
I hope these tips were helpful and I wish everyone a safe and happy Halloween!