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Tamara Lackey
Nikon Ambassador and professional photographer

Here’s How to Capture Scary Good Photos of Your Kids This Halloween

There’s a lot to keep in mind before they say, “cheese!

There’s so much thought and preparation poured into your kids’ Halloween costumes, that by the time the spooky day arrives, you earned the right to take pictures non-stop. But what good are all those pictures if they don’t capture the true essence of the look?

There’s an art to it, and with a few simple practices in place, you’ll have Insta-worthy photos in no time. Enjoy this behind-the-lens look so you know how to capture those scary good shots.

Get in the Halloween Spirit

Once your little ones are dressed to impress in their favorite costume, get even more creative by adding festive props to your photos. Set up a special backdrop of jack o’lanterns and orange twinkle lights, or have your child show off their favorite treats to capture the excitement of All Hallow’s Eve.

Get on Their Level

Make sure you photograph your kids from their height. And if they’re a superhero, try shooting with the camera pointing up at them from the ground while they pose. This perspective will make help to make your little Superman look larger than life!

Capturing a Before and After Look

Another fun idea—try documenting your tot’s transformation. Pre trick-or-treat excitement turns into post trick-or-treat joy (with just a touch of a sugar rush and a few chocolate stains!).

Gear up After Dark

When the sun goes down, the party will only just have begun! If you’re really dedicated to getting the perfect photo, you’ll have to step up to a higher-quality camera—something like the Nikon D3500 will work wonders—to take scary good shots in low-light.

For beginners, try setting your Nikon DSLR to Night Portrait Mode, which uses a combination of flash and a slightly longer exposure to deliver beautiful photos in low-light. If you’re a bit more advanced, set your camera to manual mode, increase your ISO (You probably can go higher than you might think!) and open your lens’s aperture all the way up to capture as much light as possible with every snap.

Get into Character

Get your kids excited for a Halloween photoshoot by asking them to impersonate their costume. Little witches and wizards can cast spells as the camera flashes; superheroes can prepare for an attack of epic proportions; and super-star athletes can act out their best victory dance. The more in-character your kids get, the better the photos will turn out.

Capture the Details

After spending countless hours searching for the perfect costumes, you’ll want to capture the details! Use your camera’s Close-Up mode (or a Macro lens if you have one handy!) to capture the little details. It’ll make those little embellishments on the sparkly princess crown, skeleton mask, or creative face paint stand out.

Think outside the box—like photographing the giant bowl of candy with all the little hands dipping into it.

Get the Family Together

This may seem like the most obvious one, but it often gets pushed to the side. Once the madness ensues, you’ll be busy juggling your time between watching your kids run around with their little friends, and greeting trick-or-treaters who come knocking on your door. Which is why you have to allow yourself time to capture a family shot before the trick-or-treating really begins.

If you want to turn your Halloween photoshoot into a family tradition, consider capturing it in the same spot year after year, as a marker of how everyone grows and changes (as well as their Halloween costume of choice!).

And, mama, get in the shot yourself! If you don’t have someone around to hand the camera to, remember you can always use the self-timer mode on your camera. The shot doesn’t have to be perfect; what matters is that you were all together.

Don’t Forget the Fur-iends

If you have a furry friend—especially one in costume—let them in on the fun! Your kids will love posing with their pet, and it’ll make for even cuter pictures.

Don’t be Afraid to Get “Snap-Happy”

Posed pictures are so overrated, and often impossible for parents of young ones. Instead of going for a forced (and potentially awkward) shot, try to capture spontaneous, candid moments instead. Think: While your kids are running around and playing in their costumes, admiring their friends’ get-ups or holding out their bag for another handful of candy at your neighbor’s house.

Have your camera ready to capture the action. When prepping for the picture, go for a fast lens and high shutter speed.

Create Spook-tacular Shots

Get creative and play with effects like black-and-white mode, or use a bright backlight to capture a spooky silhouette.

For those daring moms and dads yearning to DIY a spooky scene, cut a bat shape out of cardstock, place it on the front of your lens, open your aperture wide and watch the magic happen. Now, when you use the camera to take portraits with lights in the background, those blurred out lights will be shaped like little bats!

Published October 2018

Plus, more from The Bump:

Photographers’ Secrets to Taking Great Baby Photos

5 Secrets for Adorable Cake Smash Photos

How to Take Great Family Photos

PHOTO: (top image) Antonio Silva