It's one of the secrets of professional photography: For each great photo, there are dozens of so-so ones. While it used to cost a fortune to process an overflow of film photos, with digital photography, there's virtually no expense in shooting lots of shots. So for every image you want, shoot it at least four times.
The camera should be at the child's eye level so that the image is not distorted. Shooting down at kids (or worse, shooting up at adults) yields less than satisfactory images.
Laugh, joke, prod, make faces—do whatever it takes to make your subjects come alive. In particular, if they are in costume, encourage them to act the part; ghouls should groan; vampires, show their fangs; witches, cackle and sneer.
Get someone to hold a flashlight about six inches below the subject's chin before you take the picture. You will get spooky shadows and a truly ghoulish glow about the face.
Don't spend lots of time posing people and fussing over a single shot; your subjects will lose their energy and enthusiasm. Instead, think fashion photography: Shoot portraits quickly, frequently and as unobtrusively as possible. Then focus your shooting on the action—people carving pumpkins, being silly in their costumes, laughing and having fun.
This is one of the best tricks of the trade. At twilight, you won't need a flash, but the background will still appear dark. In particular, shoot jack-o'-lanterns around twilight, without a flash. You'll get the candle's glow, and it will seem dark out.
The greatest sin of amateur photographers is not cropping in tightly enough on their subjects. You want to fill the frame with the person or object, not have them surrounded by bland and distracting background. If you are shooting two people, get them as close together as possible and fill the frame with them.
Avoid using your flash when possible, and instead use flashlights, spotlights and reflected room lights to create moody, interesting photos. The light source should be in front of your subjects, not behind them. Be sure there are no mirrors or windows in the background to reflect the flash and ruin the photo. When a flash is necessary, be sure to stay within its range (usually 6 to 12 feet). One trick to try: To diffuse the light from the flash, put one finger right in front of it as you take the shot.
If you want to photograph a group successfully, make them move as close together as possible—well beyond the socially acceptable level of closeness! Then, get as close as you can and fill the frame completely with the people; no distracting background is necessary. Take several shots in rapid succession, chattering away the whole time so people focus on you and not each other.
Without one, you focus mostly on maintaining a steady hand. With a tripod, you focus more on lighting, the pose and the camera's framing. You particularly need a tripod when your photograph includes lighted decorations. When shooting a light, even the slightest movement of the camera causes blurring.
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