How to get the best Halloween photos

I just returned from a great visit to Studio 5 sharing some fun tips for getting great Halloween photos.

Halloween provides a great opportunity for some playful and memorable photos. Since many traditional festivities begin in the evening time, here are a few tips for making the most of your night time photos.

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.


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Brooke Snow

Brooke Snow


As a photographer, she’s been published in Where Women Create and Where Women Cook magazines, featured on the Huffington Post, The $100 Startup, and is a regular contributor to her local NBC lifestyle show Studio 5. A sought after instructor and speaker, when she’s not putting the magic into her next presentation, you can find her drooling over organic recipes, hiking with a mountain buggy carrying precious cargo, and hanging out in her Farm House with her fabulous little clan in Northern Utah.

Her free course Living a Thriving Life is the perfect anecdote for those seeking balance in the midst of chaos. Discover how to create meaning in both your photos and your life at
Brooke Snow

Latest posts by Brooke Snow (see all)

  • Melanie Matthews - Brooke, I love this post and all your advice. Your photos are gorgeous as always! Thank you!

  • D - Thanks, great tips. Another biggie is to put down the smart phone. iphones and other camera phones are cool in certain siutations but not low light. I see so many parents using their phones as their primary cameras. they are convenient but most of the time pics are blurry and can only print to 4×6. Another tip for pop-up flashes…tape a piece of tissue over the flash to help diffuse the light.

  • Megan DiPiero - What a fab interview! You’re such a pro, Brooke! You carried yourself beautifully and shared many helpful tips for hobbyists and amateurs. Nice work!

  • Chanelle Lund - So fun to see you on Studio 5! I think I’ll take your advice and have a photo shoot before Halloween so it will be less hectic. And you are looking gorgeous dressing your truth, I might add! I am so grateful to you for introducing me to that, I am having so much fun discovering who I am and who all the people in my life are too. I can’t believe how much more I understand my kids, knowing that they are operating with a different energy than myself. ( And thank goodness for that, because how boring would it be if we really were all the same!)

  • Sarah - Love seeing the video and looking sharp with your hair up and in a bright color – wink! Great tips. Love the idea of using nontraditional light source. Loved the light in these shots. You’re the best.

  • admin - Oh yes. Very good additional tips! I whole heartedly agree! I am actually too much of a photo snob to use my phone, so unfortunately I probably miss a lot of things, but when I do take the time for photography it’s great quality 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

  • admin - Awww! Thank you Sarah 🙂 Still trying to figure out my look 🙂 Thanks for the support and compliments!

  • admin - I am so thrilled to hear that the Dressing Your Truth program has been helpful to you! I can’t say enough about it, and I love to hear about others experiences! Just wait till you read Carol’s newest book “The Child Whisperer” that was just released today. It’s incredible 🙂 I hope you are doing fabulous!



  • davina - Brooke! You look gorgeous, Ms. Type 4! I love, love, love how you’re owning that. 🙂 Awesome interview and adore your idea of doing a photo shoot BEFORE Halloween. Genius. Why did I never think of that?

  • admin - aww. Thank you, my friend 🙂

  • Melissa Burns Photography - […] we did our traditional pumpkin carving then onto pictures!  I had seen a video post by Brooke Snow site is in my blogroll) about doing photos before Halloween.  Don’t know why I […]

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