Halloween Photo Tips: Photographing Kids in Costume

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I am Neyssa Lee a Seattle area photographer, mom of 6, planning obsessed, and who help you see the beauty, love and joy, in your own family’s chaos. I also use my super power of time management to help fellow photographers take control of their businesses. Learn more by heading to my ABOUT ME page.

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Looking for Halloween photo tips for photographing your kids in costume? Look no further.

It’s that time of year again! Everything is covered in spiderwebs (real and fake), black and orange are found everywhere. You can also can buy pumpkin flavored everything. Halloween is coming, which means it’s also time to start thinking about costumes and trick-or-treating.

How can you not want to take photos of your kids all dressed up in their costumes? They are so cute and it is always fun to see them take on the persona of their outfit. Take better photos of your kids in Halloween costumes with this easy to follow “photo recipe.”

To start, make sure you’ve read through my 5 Tips for Magical Halloween Photos, as they will help you as you go to take your photos this year.

halloween photo tips, kids in cops and robbers halloween costumes
Canon Mark IV, Lens – 135mm f/2L. Settings: ISO 100, Aperture f/2, Shutter Speed: 1/2,500

Take photos of your kids in costume BEFORE Halloween.

This will always be my top Halloween photo tip.

Halloween is too busy and everyone is too excited to get out and start filling their bags (or pillow cases) with candy. By doing your photos before (or shortly after) Halloween, everyone can be more relaxed.

Before you pick up your camera set plan ahead.

Look at your weather app, find a day with good weather (or at least without rain), and a day when you do not have a ton of other activities planned. Once you’ve figured out a date, start talking it up with your kids. Tell them you want to do a fun adventure in costumes before Halloween. I will even tell my kids they get to practice trick-or-treating with me, so they know a treat may be involved.

Halloween photo tips, kids in police costumes
Canon Mark IV, Lens – 135mm f/2L. Settings: ISO 100, Aperture f/2, Shutter Speed: 1/2,500

Another Halloween Photo Tip is to Pick Your Location Ahead of Time

Now that you have a date and the kids excited, you’ll want to find the perfect location. This could be as simple as your front porch for tradition. You can also step it up by finding an area with beautiful fall color. Or find a spot that goes along with your kids’ costumes. (Have an Eeyore or Winnie the Pooh? What if you found a spot in a wooded forest? Or went to the beach to give the photos of your Luke Skywalker a more Tatooine feel.) How much you want to go with the theme of your family’s costumes is up to you.

Now that you’re ready, let’s set up your camera!

Photo Recipe using my top Halloween Photo Tips

DSLR Camera Settings for Halloween Photos

Set your camera to Aperture Priority Mode (turn the dial to “A” or “Av”). This allows you to select a wide open aperture which puts your child as center focus, blurring out that background beautifully. Select an aperture of 3.2 or lower (or as low as your lens will allow you to go). Your camera will select your other settings for you in Aperture Priority mode.

Another important tip when taking photos of kids is to make sure your flash is turned off. I also suggest turning on continuous shooting mode on your camera to allow you to take several bursts of photos at once to capture those quick movements of your little characters.

Baby in robber costume for Halloween
Canon Mark IV, Lens – 135mm f/2L. Settings: ISO 100, Aperture f/2.5, Shutter Speed: 1/1,600

Settings for your camera phone

If you’re using your smartphone, put it in Portrait Mode, again to help your subject be the main focus of your image.

Compose Your Photo

The orientation of the photo is completely up to you. For group photos, I prefer to shoot horizontally to allow enough room to show off everyone. Framing the shot horizontal can also help show off your environment (which you spent time pre-picking out!).

Capture Your Halloween Character

With everything set, now you get to press that shutter! One Halloween photo tip is to take a few photos from far enough away to see the entire costumes, along with a little closer up show their expressions too. As you move closer and further away use prompts to keep the kids interested. Have them shout “trick-or-treat!”

I also like to get them into character. For my family of cops and robbers, I had the big kids act like police officers, blowing their whistles and the robbers trying to run away. This is the perfect time to let them be silly, and just play. I’m sure you’ll find these more playful shots as your favorites.

Mother and two kids dressed as robbers in family Halloween Costumes
Canon Mark IV, Lens – 135mm f/2L. Settings: ISO 100, Aperture f/2.8, Shutter Speed: 1/1,600

Bonus Halloween Photo Tip: Get in the Frame:

Does your entire family dress up? Enlist a grandparent or your husband and jump in the shot with the kids while you’re dressed up. Since you have already set up the camera for them, it is easy for anyone to snap a photo for you. Trust me, you’ll appreciate proof that you were there (and dressed up) too!

Safety Note: Please note, while these photos were taken in the road, it was a quiet country road with adult assistance watching for traffic. My kids’ safety was of utmost importance.

Do you love these Halloween photo tips? Join my newsletter for more photo tips on taking photos and making the most out of your family photo session each year.

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