Parents

13 ways to get great photos of kids on Halloween

Halloween is a time when little pirates and princesses show off their big personalities and even bigger imaginations. But it can be difficult to get your little witch to smile for the camera or to capture shots of your gang of ghouls and goblins as they run around collecting candy.

We asked Sarah Wilkerson, CEO of Clickin Moms, Rebecca Wyatt of Rebecca Wyatt Photography and Kayli Henley of Kayli Rene Photography for their tips for taking photos that will preserve your family’s spooky, silly and sweet Halloween memories for years to come.

Before the big night

1. Document the preparation

Rebecca Wyatt Photography
Visit your local store's Halloween aisle, taking photos of your child trying on different masks and wigs.

“Half of the fun of Halloween is picking out costumes and getting ready — so be sure to document that,” said Wilkerson. “From costume choices to the careful transformation, photograph the experience and watch the excitement build in little faces as they get ready for their big reveal.”

Wyatt suggests taking your camera with you when shopping for costumes, remembering to let your kids try on accessories like glasses and wigs, and react to spooky decorations like hairy spiders or fake eyeballs in a jar.

Clickin Moms | Jennifer Nobriga
When shooting the preparation shots, consider costume choices to the careful transformation and photograph the experience.

2. Plan a dress rehearsal.

“Trying to capture the perfect portrait as you are heading out to trick-or-treat is darn near impossible in my family,” said Wyatt. “No kid wants to pose for a photo when the candy is calling, but before Halloween they will do anything for the opportunity to put on their costume.”

Rebecca Wyatt Photography
"No kid wants to pose for a photo when the candy is calling. But before Halloween, they will do anything for the opportunity to put on their costume," says photographer Rebecca Wyatt.

RELATED: Follow these 9 tips for magical photos of your kids in the snow

3. Request their best impressions.

Wilkerson says a great way to get your kids into character for a pre-Halloween photo shoot is to ask that they do an impression of the character they’re dressed up as.

Clickin Moms | Megan Cieloha
Ask your kids to get into character to bring out interesting facial expressions and help them relax in front of the camera.

“Ask your witch to cast a spectacular spell, tell your ninja to show you her best moves, or have your little pirate give you his best ‘Aaaaargh’ while waving his sword,” said Wilkerson.

4. Give characters the perfect setting.

Clickin Moms | Vironica Golden
Immersing your child in their character's environment can be a lot of fun for them.

“Take your fireman to the fire station, your fairy to a pretty little spot in the woods, or Elsa to the ice rink,” said Wilkerson. “Not only is this immersion in the character wonderfully fun for kids, but it also photographs powerfully — like a scene out of their own movie.”

Clickin Moms | Vironica Golden
What better backdrop for a llittle pirate than the beach?
Clickin Moms | Kellie Bieser
Place your child against the backdrop of their character's imagined setting and watch the magic happen.

5. Focus on your favorite feature.

Clickin Moms | Mickie Devries
"Details help to bring our memories to life down the road," said Wilkerson, "So zoom in tight..."

Wilkerson says to ask yourself what the crown jewel of your child’s costume is. Is it the elaborate make-up? The sparkly shoes?

“Details help to bring our memories to life down the road, so zoom in tight and include them when you capture these spooky, imaginative, magical moments,” said Wilkerson.

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On Halloween

6. Take advantage of daylight.

“Get some photos on the porch before darkness descends. Both the golden hour and twilight present opportunities for atmospheric images with rich colors that add impact to your costumed characters,” said Wilkerson.

Clickin Moms| Beth Mancuso
Get an early start on Halloween photos by taking some outdoor photos before it gets dark outside.

7. Gather the whole crew.

Wilkerson suggests coordinating a meet-up with other friends and neighbors before trick-or-treating commences, to allow time for capturing a group shot.

Kalyi Henley | Kalyi Rene Photography
Taking a group shot of your kids and their trick-or-treating buddies can be a great way to get kids to hold still for a photo on Halloween night.

“The group shot is a certain favorite, filled with color and an array of personalities…don’t worry about getting eye contact and smiles from everyone — just getting them in the frame is enough,” said Wilkerson.

RELATED: 11 terrible Halloween costumes we hope kids won't be wearing

8. Don’t be too proud to pose.

Kayli Henley | Kayli Rene Photography
You will get more of a child's personality if you let them choose their own pose.

“Sometimes, I find it hard to get photos of both of my kids running from house to house, so I think going for the more posed photo is the way to go,” said Henley. “You get more of their personality if you let them choose their own pose though.”

Kayli Henley | Kayli Rene Photography
Create a Halloween photo booth, complete with spooky or fun props, to get kids in the mood to pose.

Henley also suggests requesting that kids stop to give you a quick smile between houses from time-to-time, and recommends enhancing posed photos by setting up a Halloween photo booth with fun props to get kids excited about the idea of posing for the camera.

9. Use special effects.

Wyatt suggests giving some thought to lighting before Halloween night, thinking of ways to incorporate light into your child’s costume — think glow jewelry or glow-in-the-dark tape — to enhance your photos.

Rebecca Wyatt Photography
Keep an eye out for special effects -- like this fog machine -- that will increase the spooky factor of your Halloween night photos.

“Also, if you happen upon a fog machine, these can create some really awesome effects,” she adds.

RELATED: It's a snap! 9 tips for taking memorable photos on the first day of school

10. Forgo the flash.

Clickin' Moms | Melissa Stottmann
"Watch for upcoming pockets of lights along the sidewalk, street, or as they approach the porch light - these are great opportunities to add drama and dimension to those nighttime photos," says Wilkerson.

“Since Halloween usually starts at dusk and it only gets darker from there, dim light poses a challenge to capturing those perfect images,” said Wyatt. “I’ve found the best thing to do is to just go with it and embrace the darkness.”

Rebecca Wyatt Photography
Streetlights, lanterns, flashlights, and glow sticks can all add to the atmosphere of the photograph.

Wyatt says to avoid using the flash on your camera, instead looking around for the natural lighting provided by streetlights, lanterns, flashlights and porch lights.

11. Consider converting to black and white.

Rebecca Wyatt Photography
A black and white photo in the dark can be quite dramatic.

Wyatt says photos taken on Halloween often have a blue or orange tone to them due to poor lighting conditions. To salvage these images, the photographer recommends converting them to black and white in editing. “It’s a great way to deal with the wonky colors that camera often throw out under less desirable lighting conditions,” said Wyatt.

RELATED: Halloween on the go: These wheelchair costumes will melt your heart

12. Check your camera settings beforehand.

Rebecca Wyatt Photography
Make the most of your point and shoot camera by spend a few minutes beforehand checking your settings.

“To make the most of your point-and-shoot camera, spend a few minutes beforehand checking your settings. I’ll bet your camera offers a night setting you never knew about that would be perfect for the evening,” said Wyatt. “If you’re using a DSLR, don’t be afraid to up your ISO and open up your aperture to ensure a fast enough shutter speed to capture the action.”

13. Be ready for the post-treat bliss.

Clickin Moms: Jennifer Nobriga
When kids' backs are to you at doorsteps, set up your shot. Then you are ready to capture their expression as they turn around with their treat.

“Halloween photos often end up documenting a lot of following, with kids running excitedly ahead of you in anticipation of the next trick-or-treat location. The one pause you'll get is when they knock at the door and get their treats, but even then your trick-or-treaters have their back to you,” said Wilkerson. “Take this opportunity to compose your photo and establish your settings so that you are ready to shoot as soon as they turn and come running back down the stairs, sidewalk, or driveway towards you.”

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DIY Halloween: Make an octopus costume out of an umbrella

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DIY Halloween: Make an octopus costume out of an umbrella

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This article was originally published on Oct. 9. 2015 on TODAY.com.

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