Brooke Snow is a lifestyle photographer in Logan, Utah.
Don't wait until dark. Take advantage of the light at dusk. This is the light that is still present before and just after sunset, before it is completely dark outside. It's one of the loveliest times of day to photograph because the light is warm, soft, and even. If you position the light from behind, it can even create a magical glow behind your subjects.
This time of day is usually before the sugar rush and tired excursion of trick or treating, so you can not only take advantage of great light, but more cooperative emotions!
Turn off your flash! Halloween is all about mood, and the mood of Halloween isn't washed out photos with harsh shadows. The spooky tones of night, the natural shadows and highlights of nighttime and Halloween colors like warm orange, amber and yellow tones are what you're looking to capture.
To avoid using flash, consider the following tips:
USE A TRI-POD. Turning the flash off will result in slower shutter speeds. Having a steady support for your camera's slower shutter will keep your image from being blurry from hand holding the camera while you photograph.
INCREASE YOUR ISO. All cameras have an ISO level. This measures your camera's sensitivity to light. Raising that level to something much higher will keep your shutter speed faster without always needing to use the flash. Start at 400 and go up from there, judging the quality of your photos. Some cameras do better than others with high ISO's in producing images without a lot of grain or noise.
POSITION YOUR SUBJECTS TOWARD A LIGHT SOURCE. The benefit of having a flash is that it illuminates your subjects' faces. The downside is that it usually brings red eye and a flat dimension to your photograph.
If you look around your environment for available light sources and position your subjects faces toward them, you'll create some dramatic lighting, and still see their faces. Available light sources could be porch lights, lamps, cell phones, computers, flash lights, candle light from Jack-o-lanterns, street lights, and much more. Remember, you'll have a slow shutter, so having a tri-pod there or some type of steady support will be key for not getting a blurry image.
Set camera to night mode. This mode is usually depicted by a person and star icon on your camera. Night mode still triggers the flash, but it slows down your shutter speed as well, which helps to create a more natural looking photo. You'll want to still use a tri-pod and instruct your subjects to remain still for several seconds, but having that burst of light from the flash can add that extra bit of light you might need if there are no other available light sources.
Don't wait for Halloween! This is my personal favorite tip for great Halloween photos. Take your photos on a different day! Halloween and costumes can be stressful enough! Taking the majority of your photos on an earlier day can be a fun way to extend the use of costumes, take advantage of daylight, shoot in exciting locations, separate the anxiety of other party events from the photo experience, and ultimately result in better photos and a calmer Halloween experience where you can be more present and enjoy the night without fretting over photos.