Expert Advice – Make BETTER Halloween Photographs!

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I first fell in love with Paul Gero’s work when I met him through my career as a wedding planner. His wedding photography just blew me away.The way he captures life in motion, and the emotion in the motion is nothing short of remarkable. Then I found out about his 19 years as a professional photojournalist and it all made sense! He has captured stories and events for major publications like the Chicago Tribune, Arizona Republic, Sports Illustrated, People, Time, and the list goes on and on. You have to check out his website and blog to see his wedding and portrait work.

So it is not surprising that Paul brings his photojournalistic gift to his work photographing children and families, and the result is magical. He prefers to set up his sessions by scheduling it around the best lighting and location, and then really just lets it fly! Hevery occasionally poses children, but prefers to photograph them in their natural state, capturing the expressions and essence of the child in a beautiful way. Being a dad himself of a 3 year old daughter, Kate, he says he photographs all children like he would his own daughter. Photographs really are a time capsule, which allow us to “bottle” our children at each stage of their life. And we allknow just how fleeting the time is, and how quickly they change. Paul is located in Ladera Ranch, contact him at or 949.388.5588 for more info on his sessions and pricing.

Paul was awesome enough to volunteer to write an article on how to better photograph our kids this Halloween! Here is what he writes…

Make Better Halloween Photos
© Paul F. Gero |

The big day is almost here and I know you’ll want to make photographs of your little one in their special Halloween costume.

Here are a few tips for you to help you make better photos of your children with your digital camera on this festive day!

1. Try turning off the flash.
The built in camera flash can be a life saver at night or in a dark restaurant, but if you’re photographing you child and their friends at the end of the day, you might be happier with the results without flash. Plus, if you are making a vertical photograph, the flash may cast a harsh shadow off to the side behind your child.

2. Try to find an area of deep shade to photograph.
If you can find a nice area in the side yard, or perhaps your front porch area has an eastern exposure, that might be a great area to photograph in the late afternoon. Or after the sun has dropped behind the tree line just prior to sunset, the light in your front area (if it faces west) might work well too. Digital cameras have a difficult time with strong side lighting so be careful of that. If there are a lot of brighter highlights in the background, be careful about them too. Depending on their intensity, they might be distracting from your main subject.

3. Late afternoon light can be a warm and inviting source of lighting.
This type of light works best very close to sunset. Be careful about squinting–one reason why it works better later (the light is less intense and the color temperature is warmer and thus more flattering). If squinting is a problem, have your subjects close their eyes, count to 3 and then have them open them and smile!

4. Add an inexpensive, 50mm f1.8 lens to your digital camera kit.
If you own a Canon Rebel or a Nikon d40 you may have purchased the “kit” lens that comes with the camera. These “kit” lenses often cover a wide angle to telephoto range approximately 18mm-200mm.

These lenses are meant to work in a variety of situations, especially in brighter light, but they fall down a bit when you want to photograph in low light. You can increase the ISO or sensitivity of the camera sensor though the downside to that is you increase noise on the images. With a lens such as the 50mm f1.8 you can select a larger aperture to work to give your images a distinctive look and have the ability to work in low light with a lower ISO than with a slower aperture zoom lens.

5. Be ready to make photographs throughout the day and evening.
Have your camera out of the case, the lens cap off and the camera ready to go. If you are unsure of the best settings, set the camera to program mode and then the camera will select the shutter and aperture. This works pretty well in many situations and allows you to concentrate on watching your child having a great time!

Caption: My daughter Kate (l) and her two friends Marlee (c) and Mia ( r ) pose for a portrait before a Halloween event. Even though this is a posed photograph, their little personalities come through. This image was made on the eastern side of our friends’ home, in the afternoon which gave us a very nice area of shade to work. This image was made with a 50mm lens on a Canon 5d camera using available light. I made this image as a vertical to give them scale with the full-size mummy at right and to also utilize the nice vertical lines and shapes in the door.

Caption: Be ready for anything, with the little ones. Here Kate, wearing her other Minnie Mouse costume rests on a railing at California Adventure. Fortunately the late afternoon shade provided soft and beautiful illumination. A Canon 5d with a 50mm lens were used for this photograph.

Have a safe and fun Halloween and make some great photographs!!

Paul Gero

Paul teaches classes online too! He teaches a digital wedding photography class and a Canon flash class at


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  1. 1
    wifeandmom says:

    WONDERFUL! Such perfect timing Paul, and thank you for all the tips. I am charging up the camera tonight and gonna look around on our daily late afternoon walk tonight for the "good light" spots for tomorrow!

  2. 2
    sheila says:

    Paul, is this the type of lens you would recommend for the nikon d40?

  3. 3
    Paul Gero says:

    Hi Sheila…

    Yes this lens would also be useful on a Nikon d40, as well….

    If you can go for the 50 1.4, that would be a better alternative, but if you have a tight budget or just want to try it out with a more minimal investment, the 50 1.8 would be a good choice.


  4. 4
    sheila says:

    Thanks, Paul!

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