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Top Tips for Halloween Family Photography

The best family photography this Halloween with Venture Studios...

Like it or not, Halloween is becoming a bigger and better celebration every year.

Many people dislike Halloween and think that it is yet another American import. However, a form of Trick or Treating has actually existed in England since the Middle Ages. The custom of Souling was where children - and sometimes poor adults - would dress up in costumes and go from door to door seeking soul cakes or money in return for songs and prayers, often on behalf of the dead.

In Scotland there was a custom called Guising recorded back as early as 1895, where children in costumes would visit homes for food and coins, sometimes carrying lanterns made out of scooped out turnips.

So celebrating Halloween is nothing new, and is something that we can get involved in without necessarily succumbing to the inevitable commercialisation of the whole festival. Maybe the challenge this year is to do something special for your home and family that is a little different from what everyone else is doing. If you are uncomfortable with the some of the darker aspects of Halloween then create something that is positive and fun, and that everyone can thoroughly enjoy.

It’s great that Halloween falls in half term this year so that children can enjoy themselves without being too tired for school the next day. So how about having a Halloween party for a few children and their parents? The children can go out and do a bit of Trick or Treating then come back for a lovely time with all of you together.

Before the party you can have fun with your children decorating the house. This does not have to be anything too complicated or expensive. Get your creative juices running and have a go at making decorations out of everyday household items. For example, you can twist or cut swing bin liners or cotton wool to make trailing spider’s webs. Paper cups and plates can be redesigned into ghosts and skeletons. I If you want more orange in your home to supplement your pumpkin lanterns then gather items such as rocks, balls or cardboard packaging, paint them orange and position carefully for effect. Don’t worry if your design skills are not the best - dim lighting and candles make everything look better!

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For the party itself, provide some simple hot food, plenty of drinks for the adults and something sweet for the children and you will be onto a winner. Why not organise some traditional party games for the children if you have the energy? These don’t have to be specifically Halloween-related: just think of games like musical statues/bumps/chairs, pass the parcel, pin the tail on the donkey, treasure hunts - and maybe Murder in the Dark! When the children are tired, a good old family film should fit the bill. How about ET, as that has a major (non-scary) Halloween scene in it?

But whatever you do this Halloween, ensure that you make the time for some wonderful family photography. These are the moments that you will look back on and treasure in years to come, but are also the moments that it easy to forget to capture at the time.

Here are three of the most important family photography moments that we suggest you aim for, to create those special #memoriesforever:

Atmosphere and Decor

Whether you are aiming for a spooky atmosphere or a brighter Disney-esque one, make sure that you get some really good photos that capture that atmosphere perfectly. One of the key elements of doing this is to get the lighting right. In our recent article Ten Photography Tips for Beginners we explained about the “exposure triangle” and how to use the best combination of aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings for different effects. We also explored when to try using flash.

So have a look at all these settings before the event so that you are confident about what you need to do to achieve the effect that you want.

Do also try to get some close ups - macrophotography - of any decorations that you are particularly proud of. Some wonderful shots can be achieved by using your camera settings to focus sharply on a subject - for example a candle or lantern or other object - then blurring the background.

Children

Whether your children look adorable in their fancy dress costumes - or whether they are a complete mess and covered in debris from sweets and party games - these are the moments that you cannot recreate. Even next Halloween they will be a year older and will look very different. So make sure you get lots of photos of your children this Halloween. Take as many natural shots as you can: the beauty of digital photography is that you can take way more shots than you actually need, in the hope that at least a few of them will turn out to be good.

It is also worth taking a bit of time to get some more posed shots of the children as a large group or in smaller groups. That way you can be sure that everyone has been included in all their finery, and no-one has been missed.

Here are some tips for group shots:

  • Take a few moments to arrange the children to make sure that they all fit into the shot. This will need an element of grouping children of similar sizes; and having some standing and others sitting or kneeling at the front. You may want to enlist a couple of helpers here!

  • Fill the frame so that you do not end up with a lot of wasted space around the subject(s). Your aim here is to get the childrens’ faces and costumes rather than a more arty white space effect.

  • Equally, make sure you do not have a cluttered background. There will already be many potentially clashing colours and also various objects that children inevitably end up clutching in their hands. So try to eliminate any other background clutter so that the photo doesn’t look a complete mess and that the subject(s) stand out.

  • Once you are finally ready to take the actual photographs, you will need to find some way of getting the children to look happy and natural. Again, you may need help here, particularly if banter is not your forte. One potentially good way is to get the children to sing a song: try a Disney anthem such as Let it Go from Frozen!
  Leo Francis  

Fun and Friends

Sometimes the most spontaneous shots are the best. So ask everyone to take as many shots as they would like to during the party and then share the best ones together afterwards. You could either do this via social media or on some of the cloud storage solutions we explored in our recent article Save Your Photos Day.

Sharing photos from a number of different photographers is a wonderful way of building a comprehensive family photography library. There will be different styles and different angles and, most importantly, no-one will be missing from all the photographs because they are the ones taking them!

We hope that the above tips and ideas help you to really enjoy Halloween this year and also to capture some brilliant moments of family photography that will bring you joy for years to come.

Happy Halloween from all of us at Venture Studios.

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