10 tips to ensure a great portrait of your little one’s costume!

My sister and I in costume back in the 80s. The background didn't scream Superman, but our poses did!
My sister and I in costume back in the 80s. The background didn’t scream Superman, but our poses did!

The Halloween spirit has definitely gripped Murray this weekend, which means we are just days away from seeing those little ones don their cutest, scariest or most heroic costumes. As they champ at the bit for that bewitching, candy-filled evening to arrive, you still have time to snap some great portraits of the little ones in their best Halloween garb. Follow these tips to make these moments count!

We all remember being young and eager to go out trick-or-treating. We could hardly wait and the sun, it seemed, simply would not set fast enough. Then, as we stood there in costume waiting for the keepers of the car keys to declare it time to head out, we had to endure a few against-the-wall shots of us in our costumes. Well, times have changed, cameras have gotten better/more abundant and the internet abounds with ideas. So, why not take advantage of a few?

Now, I am not going to try and reinvent the wheel. There are already several great tip lists out there. In fact, a great article I found comes from Today‘s website: 13 ways to get great photos of kids on Halloween. However, if it were me, this is how me, my camera and the little trick-or-treaters might roll.

1. Get the good shots before Halloween

We all know what it feels like to be in costume and waiting for treat-filled night to arrive. And the inevitable anticipation was just about as energizing as the sugary goodies to come. This is why, if possible, it might be best to get some Halloween portraits of the youngsters BEFORE Halloween. This does three things: It gives a kind of dress rehearsal for the big night, it helps justify the costume’s cost a little more, and it gives the opportunity for portraits without the “come on, let’s go” expression on their faces.

2. Get down on their level

Each year, I see many great costumes represented on my Facebook timeline. However, often, it is from the parents’ point of view. They simply take out their phones and tell little Sally to look up and smile. While this is cute, the better angle would be straight on. Parents, don’t be afraid to perch upon your knees for this portrait. The angle won’t distort as much and the background won’t be the sidewalk in front of your house.

3. Put them in their element

Expanding on the previous tip, background is critical to great portraits. And Halloween is the perfect opportunity to get creative. Superman lives in a city, Jason lives near a Lake, witches troll through the woods. Above, I mentioned the against-the-wall pictures of my youth. Well, that is sooooooo 1985. Why not take the little ones out and find something relative to their character? And, if there is no practical element (I mean how many fairytale castles are there in the US, right?) A great default is fall leaves and trees. This backdrop is timeless and can easily be found in the park or in your own back yard.

4. They NEED to strike a pose!

It is not listed on the “What’s included” portion of the package, but every Halloween character costume comes with a pose. It comes from within. Whether they are Freddy Kruger or Elsa, there are unique poses to be made and these will greatly enhance your portraits. And posing while dressed as their favorite character is one of the most fun parts of Halloween.

5. Use the daylight

Most traditional trick-or-treating scenarios depend on one thing: Sunset. Ghouls and ghosts don’t like the daylight after all. However, if you can get them in costume before the sun sets, daylight will give a much better portrait than the straight flash, which will be required later. Plus, the further you get from the trick-or-treat hour, the more cooperative they will be for portraits.

6. Use the night

Depending on your camera’s capabilities, when photographing the actual trick-or-treating at dusk or night, try to avoid using flash and instead utilize the ambient street and porch lighting. Camera flash ruins just about every dimly lit mood and, if you can avoid it, do so. However, if you camera does not allow for fast shutter speeds in dim light, I would stick with the flash or you will end up with a lot of blurry images instead.

7. After effects

With today’s Instagram, Photoshop and other photo effect options, one might be tempted to play with the images afterward to add some extra flare. Do it! Just be sure to save your originals first. Also, as is recommended in Today’s article, convert some to black-and-white. Not only does this stave off that incandescent orange tone many porch lights cast before unsuspecting cameras, but it also gives a classic and/or timeless vibe to just about any Halloween portrait.

8. Focus on the details

True the costume is beautiful and it cost a pretty penny, however, don’t think for a minute that every portrait has to include the entire thing. Get in close and capture some of the details including accessories and shoes and even their candy haul at the end of the night.

9. Capture their joy

As their buckets and bags get full, they will have uncontrollable smiles on their little faces. Get this too! Like above, you don’t have to have the full fairy costume in frame to appreciate a smiling face with wing tips in the background. After all Halloween is as much about the fun as it is about the costumes and candy.

10. Don’t forget to live in the moment yourself from time to time.

When you were young, do you remember you mom holding the camera out in front of her while you knocked on every door? Me neither. Be sure to step out from behind the phone and enjoy your kid(s)’ Halloweens in real time. You only get so many.

So, there you have it! Some great tips to capture your little ones’ Halloween right. Abanathy Photography, LLC, wishes everyone a safe and candy-filled Halloween and we look forward to seeing all the trick-or-treaters and handing out candy during Murray’s Trail of Treats event in Central Park next Saturday night from 5-8!