Are you looking for some fun ideas to photograph some spooky Halloween themed shoots? Why not grab some friends — and I do mean a few. This can be thrown together quite quickly if you’re organized enough. You would be amazed at what you can create with a little thinking outside the box.
Where to start
Pick a date and a location. People spend so long thinking up a theme that they simply run out of time. But it’s the location and a date and time to suit everyone — that’s the key to it all. It could be a park, someone’s house or garage … does someone own a studio? It really is amazing what can be achieved with a blank white wall and some creative thinking. A green or gray screen can really work as well.
Pick your crew
This may sound a little harsh, but pick your crew wisely. Pick people you like and know you can work well with is a must. But also think about people who are creative, and think on their feet.
Think about who may have items that are portable and usable; lights (even a studio), backdrops and such. Limit to 10 photographers. It’s still like herding cats but any more than 10 people becomes unmanageable.
On our group sessions, everyone who shoots puts money into a central fund. We limited it to $50 per photographer. We could then buy backdrops, costumes and props. We often have enough left over for sandwich platers for lunch on the day.
Pick a theme
This is where too many chiefs can really make things a nightmare. Pick something simple. I love to work on well-known favorites and then twist them around and make them my own; childhood fairy tales, movies and TV shows. This is also good because people often know the theme and it makes it easier to work with.
Some ideas for themes include “The Addams Family” or “The Munsters,” books like “It” (Stephen King as so many), pirates, ghosts and more. Some of my past shoots have been; An Addams Family Wedding, 1920s Speakeasy Gangster shoot, Goldilocks (gone bad) and Alice in Wonderland. The list really is endless. Either pick something and get everyone else excited about it, or pick two or three and put it to a vote. But have a strict deadline on the deciding day.
Choose your subjects
Once you have a location, a crew and a theme, it’s time to start looking at subjects. The biggest shoot I did had 10 models, which required A LOT of costumes and makeup, but was still manageable.
If this is your first group project stick to three or four; ask family and friends. You would be surprised who says yes to this sort of shoot, where a normal portrait shoot they would never do. Ask on TFP Modeling sites, some people will jump at the chance to get some extra photos for their portfolio.
If you regularly work with models, I am sure they are only too happy to get gory and bloody for the fun of it. If they can do their own hair and makeup or can even bring someone on board, that’s a bonus too.
Select backgrounds and props
There are some cheap printed vinyl backdrops available online that can hang from a standard backdrop frame. But a white wall can work just as well. With so many people as subjects and crew, get everyone to hunt around for props. Pretty much everything from “The Addams Family” shoot we found or borrowed, including the wedding dress.
There are always stores that are selling off bits and pieces for Halloween parties and decorations, especially at this time of year. Having a budget to play with is a great way to collect some key pieces as well. Some great, cost-effective props include red food dye, fake blood, fake cobwebs, candles, smoke machines and dry ice. Print off creepy poison labels and stick them on old bottles and fill with colored water. Spray paint fake flowers.
Even though this is not a paid or even a professional shoot, try to keep it professional. I ALWAYS have a model release. I always expect everyone to be polite and respectful on set, especially when there are so many people involved.
Think of this as a fun day out with friends — a learning exercise. You can always learn something about your craft on a shoot like this, especially if you have more experienced photographers involved. Some of my favorite Halloween shoots were shot on white or black bedsheets. Just throw in a little Photoshop magic.
It truly is wonderful to work on something a little bit creepy, spooky, or gory and to share with a few friends. It makes for a wonderful day.