Eric's Photography Corner - Easy Photography Tips and Tricks

As Halloween quickly approaches, and I prepare my front door for the imminent onslaught of visiting ghosts, pirates and princesses, one question dominates my thoughts; How can I scare the snot out of these kids and make them earn their free candy?

I love Halloween. I dare say that it’s my favorite holiday of the year. I also love photography as you may have gathered from these installments of Eric’s Photography Corner! I thought I’d share a fun trick I pulled a couple years ago that beautifully combines these two loves together. It produces awesome shots not unlike the roller-coaster photos they take of you at the moment your heart has dropped into your shoes!

My niece’s birthday falls very close to Halloween and she asked me to help her throw a spook-tacular party to scare all of her friends. As part of the party, we created a mini haunted house that ended in the attic of my in-laws house. At the end of their haunted journey I placed a bowl of candy in front of a very scary looking witch dummy.

The attic was pitch black accept for a bright strobe light helping to distort their senses. It did a great job illuminating the witch and the stretchy cobwebs hung from the walls and ceiling.

The witch was hanging on a rope from the ceiling to give the impression that it wasn’t a person waiting to scare them. I dressed myself in black clothes, hid myself behind the witch, and set my camera up on a tripod hidden by other decorations and cobwebs.

As the children came into the attic and timidly crept forward to take a piece of candy, I gave a blood-curdling scream and lurched the witch right at them! At the same moment, I snapped a flash photo from my hidden camera location and captured some fantastically terrified faces!

Halloween Photography Trick by ESP Photographic (1)
One of the first to be scared was the birthday girl herself. It’s not her reaction however that makes me love this picture so much. It’s her cousin in the background! Did you see him before I mentioned him?
Halloween Photography Trick by ESP Photographic (2)
Before the party started, my nephews gave the haunted house a trial run!
Halloween Photography Trick by ESP Photographic (4)
It wasn’t just the kiddies who got a scare that night!
Halloween Photography Trick by ESP Photographic (5)
Then it came time for the party guests to give it a go! (My flash didn’t fire properly for this shot and it was drastically underexposed. I had to try and rescue it though because, look at that face!

Tips and Tricks:

1) Prefocus & Preexpose – When it comes to using your camera and flash in the dark, it can be very hard to get your camera to react as quickly as you would like. One of the main reasons your camera wont take a photo at the exact moment you want is because it needs to choose a focal point and calculate the exposure first. Presetting these elements will let your camera snap the shot at the exact moment you choose.

Make sure that your lens is set to manual focus and your camera on manual exposure, otherwise it will try to readjust for each shot and you’ll miss the key moments.

2) Use a shutter-cable or remote – If you don’t have someone else taking the photos at just the right moment, using these tools will free you up for better control over the scaring element.

3) Use a narrow aperture – Setting your camera with a high f-stop and moving it aways back from the target zone will ensure that you have a large depth of field. This helps because you won’t have the ability to move your camera and the scare-ee could be all over the place. The higher your f-stop, the more of your photo is in focus.

4) Use good judgment – Children’s parents may not want you snapping shots of their youngsters. It is a good idea to only snap your tricky photos with kids that you know well and/or have their parent’s consent.

5) I set the big scare up in an attic for this party, but you could do something similar at your front door or wherever the occasion presents itself.

When I took the photos above I didn’t think to take a photo of the witch and camera set up itself. There’s always next time! Do you have any ideas that could spur off of this one? What are your favorite Halloween photography tips? I look forward to your comments!

Eric Pearce, Brother of Single Dad Laughing

Note from Dan:

If you’re in England, and you need an affordable and incredible photographer… my brother is definitely your man! Visit his website at or contact him here or follow on Twitter,Facebook, or Pinterest!

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