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Create the Ultimate Halloween Photoshoot

This is a weird but wonderful year for Halloween - it falls on a Saturday and a full moon, so in normal times, we would expect this to be the busiest trick-or-treat season we’ve ever seen! It’s not clear whether or not trick-or-treating will be on the schedule this year and some of our usual festivities have had to be put on hold, but that doesn’t mean Halloween still can’t be extra special. This is the perfect year for a legendary family costume photoshoot!

There’s no reason why trick-or-treating has to be your only family Halloween tradition, and it doesn’t just have to be fun for the little ones. Get together and create family photos, which will make everyone smile!

Here are our tips for a fantastic family Halloween photoshoot:

Pick a theme. The key to an epic Halloween photoshoot, of course, is a perfect theme. Are you all escaping a haunted house together? Being abducted by aliens? Witches making a strange brew? Or maybe you have a group costume in mind - your favorite group of characters from a book, show, or movie?

Sit down as a family and decide together. Compromise if you can and embrace the weird! If one kid wants knights and princesses and the other wants a sci-fi adventure, why not try to blend the two?

2. Break it down. Gather reference photos, look up tutorials online for similar costumes and decide all the elements you’ll need ahead of time to make this photoshoot work. Older kids can help source supplies and costume pieces as well as coming up with scene ideas and poses. You’ll want a really clear concept and a list of supplies before you move on!

3. Be realistic. Do you have time to sew four different custom costumes, build a backdrop and a full-sized papier-mâché monster in your backyard? Probably not. Try not to let the scale of your photoshoot outstrip your available time and budget, or this will quickly go from being fun to becoming a chore!

Get your supplies. Thrift stores are amazing places to buy costume pieces and photo props! With a little creativity, some scissors and a little sewing knowledge (or glue), thrifted items can be used to make
just about any costume and scene work.

Cardboard boxes, pop bottles and cans, and plastic containers can be saved from recycling and painted to create all kinds of amazing things (search for some ideas online!). If you can sew, the options are limitless; don’t forget to look at thrift stores for sheets, curtains, and used fabrics to make your creations with!

As a last resort, Halloween and Dollar Stores are full of spooky props and costumes this time of year. They can be a little pricey, but if you need just the perfect thing, the selection is astounding!

5. Bring it all together. Leave yourself more time than you think you’ll need to make your scene. Work together with older kids to paint and create props, style costumes and wigs, and figure out any makeup you might need. If all else fails, don’t forget that Photoshop exists - anything that turned out to be just too complicated to make can probably be added afterward!

6. Pick a perfect setting. Drive around and try to find the perfect spot to take your photos, being mindful of private property and safety! Check out the older neighborhoods in Calgary for historical houses (Inglewood is a great spot), find a spooky patch of woods in a public park, or create a setting in your yard. Don’t be afraid to ask businesses for permission to photograph on their property, but be prepared for them to say no.

Take your photos. Consider recruiting a family friend or hiring a photographer to help make your dream a reality; don’t let one of your family members get left out because they need to take the photo! Make sure you take as many photos as you can - way more than you think you’ll need! - so you’re sure you have the perfect shot. Be mindful of the lighting and choose a time of day where the sun is at the best possible angle; shadows and moody lighting can be added with filters once the photo is taken, but you’ll want the best light possible when you’re taking your pictures.

Have fun, and don’t forget to share your photos with your friends and family! Happy Halloween!

Allison is the assistant publisher of Calgary’s Child Magazine.

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