Thursday, November 10, 2011


It's been a crazy, mixed bag around here since the first of October, but now that things have settled down a little bit (very little! I'm returning to Jack Russell Brewery this weekend to sell my "normal" art), I thought I'd share some things about photography with you.

First, I want to share that I'm not a photographer! I'm just someone with a Canon Powershot that's a few years old, and that I really love. I have to confess that I've barely cracked open the operating manual, that I have no clue what an F-stop actually is or why it needs to stop Fs, and that I'm just starting to figure out the whole macro thing. Even so, I've managed to take some pretty good pictures!

I figured out pretty quickly that showing daylight pictures of my jack-o'-lanterns wasn't getting much interest, and wasn't showing them fulfilling their true purpose. So I started to set them up with candles glowing inside to entice people to see them as they were meant to be seen in their homes.
Don't get me wrong, now. I'm not under the impression that I'm Ansel Adams, by any stretch of the imagination. I have much to learn, there's no doubt! What I did learn straight away-and this is where it gets useful for you haunters who want to take pics of your props next October 31st-is to turn the damn flash off and use a tripod!  (Click Tripods for your camera to search for the right tripod for you. You can search for Digital cameras, too, if you need one. Don't forget, that other holiday is coming soon, so you may be able to get Santa to bring you one.)

We spend our time creating the best lighting our budget allows for the ToTs to come through the atmosphere we decide to create for them, and then we try to take flash pictures to show it off. It just doesn't work. The shadows are destroyed, the lovely red or green floods disappear, and you can just forget about that led pin spot on your favorite mourner.

Getting back to photographing my jacks for a moment, I believe I shared with you that taking the photos of them lit, in a nighttime setting, nicely framed, and displaying them in my booth, plumped up my sales enormously. Not only that, but people actually started to ask me how much the photos were! Because of that, I started to list the photos in my Etsy store and brought a bunch of matted photos with me to the booth, as well as having several framed sets ready for people to hang on their walls.

One of the best things I did was to sign up for my Etsy newsletters. It seems like at least once a month, there are some tips on photographing your products. While Product Photography for Beginners and Give Props: How to Style Your Photos may seem off-topic, their other posts on photography [be sure to scroll down] helps you learn how to run your camera and see your shot setups in a more creative way. You can easily translate this to your haunter's needs, and it may even change the way you set up and light your haunt next year.

For night photography tips for beginners, there's always the "Dummies" series on YouTube. I found a good article here, too. Obviously, doing a Google search will turn up oodles of results.

You can get all crazy and find Books on How To Photograph at Night on Amazon, too. I'd recommend it if you want your haunt pics to look their best next year! I'd recommend Skull and Bones's lighting tutorial for your haunt, too.

If you're like me and do better with someone actually helping you out, you might consider ponying up for a workshop. I don't know anything about this person, but I have to say that taking night pics at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is so tempting! There are sure to be some workshops closer to where you live if you do a little research.

So, go forth and educate thyself! You've got a whole year to practice. Just keep at it, and you'll be amazed at how much you improve.

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