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Tips on Taking Terrific Halloween Pictures

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Guest blogger Ronda Kaysen: Taking great Halloween pictures of the kids all decked out in their spooky get-ups is no easy feat. You've got sugared-up tots to corral, difficult lighting to conquer and the pressure of trying to get the perfect image of a once-in-a-lifetime event.

woman holding camera

For help, momlogic sat down with Erin Nelson, owner of ErinLeigh Photography, a children's photography company in San Francisco. She gave us the lowdown on how to turn a challenging photo session into an opportunity for truly memorable pictures.

momlogic: Why is it so hard to take good Halloween pictures?

Erin Nelson: Part of it is that you feel under pressure because you realize it's not like snapshots in the bathtub: If you don't capture this event right away, the party's over. Try to remember that there are going to be a lot of events, a lot of Halloweens. Give yourself a break.

Halloween is also difficult because of the lighting. By the end of the night, you're losing light, but that can be to your advantage. Turn off your camera's flash and see what happens. Instead of the usual crisp images, you'll get some spooky effects that show motion and energy.

ml: How do you take pictures of kids who are way too excited to sit still for a camera?

EN: Sometimes it's best to roll with the occasion that's in front of you. Walk ahead of them and turn around rather than make them stop what they're doing. They're more excited and more unruly than usual. They're not made to sit still; you have to go where they are.

ml: If you were going to give parents one piece of advice, what would it be?

EN: Turn off the on-camera flash. The on-camera flash is a very blunt tool. It will always make pictures look flat. When you use the flash that's on the camera, it's like throwing this big blanket of light right in front of you. You lose the depth. It's startling.

ml: Any tips on how to get really creative shots?

EN: Try different angles. Hold the camera up high and point down for a bird's-eye view or crouch down low to see what your little pirates and princesses see. Get in close, then go wide. Go way ahead of your trick-or-treaters on the sidewalk, then turn around to capture them walking toward you.

ml: What if you get home, upload the pictures and don't find any that immediately catch your eye as keepers?

EN: Play around with your image-editing program. Experiment with a few photos to see if converting them to black-and-white improves them. Sometimes a so-so photo -- especially one with distracting background elements -- can actually become a great photo this way. But remember, not every picture is a "wow." Before you post your pictures online or make an album, choose only the ones that make you react out loud. Twenty terrific photos won't look as terrific if they're mixed in with eighty "OK" photos.

ml: How can a parent take great Halloween pictures without spending the entire night behind the camera?

EN: Pick and choose the moments that you're going to get a picture of and be selective about that. Watch what's going on and go where your eye leads you. Above all, it should be fun!


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