When Stefanie contacted me about taking Halloween engagement photos in a cemetery I was SO excited. I love it when the couples I work with have creative, unique requests. Stefanie chose Ithaca City Cemetery in Ithaca, NY as the location for their engagement session and it was absolutely perfect.
Halloween Photo Shoot
Stefanie and Matthew are getting married the day before Halloween and they really wanted their engagement photos to reflect that; hence a Halloween photo shoot! They said they were incorporating some Halloween-themed elements into their wedding day, and wanted the photos on their save-the-dates to match the look of their wedding. I normally start my engagement sessions an hour and a half before sunset, but I knew we were going for a darker, spooky, moody feel, so we decided to start just an hour before sunset instead.
We started by taking photos around the cemetery, making sure to capture plenty of serious photos as well as some smiles and giggles. Stefanie floated the idea of using pumpkins or candles in their photos, and while I liked both ideas, I thought pumpkins would definitely be more difficult to carry around with us, and I loved the idea of taking photos in the glow of candlelight, so we opted to just stick with candles. I love the orange glow of the taper candles at dusk, and the way they really set the mood of these photos. As a wedding photographer, so much of my job has to do with light, and it was a ton of fun to play around with light in a way that I hadn't before.
Halloween Couples Photo Shoot Ideas
I had a ton of fun with these photos, and while I know not everyone will want these for their engagement photos, plenty of people would love to do a Halloween couples photo shoot, so I wanted to give some ideas/tips!
- Pick your outfits carefully
One of the reasons I loved this session so much is that the photos felt like Halloween photos without feeling gimmicky. Stephanie and Matthew wore normal clothes, not costumes. They picked pieces that had a spooky/Halloween vibe, without being too over the top. My biggest piece of advice is that if you want photos that don't look like you're just playing dress-up, leave the costumes behind and instead try to find clothes that you would wear in your every day lives that give off the vibe you're going for.
- Experiment with lighting
The time of day and light sources you use during your session will completely change the final result. Since we wanted photos that were darker and spooky, we planned the photo shoot for closer to sunset. We also used a part of the cemetery with lots of dense trees to give us a darker feel without having to wait until it was nighttime. Obviously, there were also the candles. The taper candles Stefanie and Matthew brought were so much fun to play with because we could experiment with the way the light hit their faces depending on how high they held them, how close to their faces, or if they held them in front of their bodies vs behind.
- Details are important
Stepfanie and Matthew brought taper candle holders with them too, but they didn't really fit the vibe they were going for (clear, plastic holders). We opted to just have them hold the candles, which was definitely the right choice. I also loved that they didn't bring plain white candles. The gray looks SO good. Picture what the photos would look like if they had been white candles (not the same, right?). Think about all the details of your outfits and any props you're bringing and ask yourself if they all fit together, or if anything seems out of place.
When looking for a Photographer for your Halloween couples or engagement photos, you'll want to make sure you find someone who is comfortable flexing those creative muscles and who edits in a style that will suit Halloween couple's photos. Every photographer edits their photos in their own unique style. For example, some photographers edit their photos in a way that is very bright or "light-and-airy" as some call it, which can suit weddings, but probably isn't a good fit for a Halloween photo shoot. You'll want to find a photographer who edits their photos so that the colors are true-to-life. That way they can fully capture the lighting, the shadows, and the spooky glow of any candles you might have brought with you. Beyond that, a lot of photographers might not have photographed any Halloween couples photos before, so you'll want to find someone who is comfortable trying something new. If they seem unsure, they're probably not the right fit. You want to find someone who is enthusiastic, excited, and up for the challenge.
When Stefanie originally contacted me about their idea for their session, she asked if I was alright with her sharing some ideas she found on Pinterest, and I said yes absolutely! I think Pinterest is a great way to get some inspiration and for me to see the vibe my couples are going for. It's important to know that your photographer is not going to be able to copy the inspirational photos you give them exactly. So many aspects go into making a photograph, including what the couple is wearing, the lighting on the day that photo was taken, what lens the photographer was using, etc. and it would be nearly impossible to replicate a photo from Pinterest exactly. A good photographer will be able to use your inspiration photos to create photographs with the same feel, but with their unique vision behind them.
As a photographer, it is important to be sensitive to other people's feelings when doing a couples photoshoot in a cemetery. This is a place of reverence and respect, and it is important to be mindful of that. It is also important to be sensitive to the emotions of those who may be visiting the cemetery while you are there, as this may be a difficult or sentimental location for them. It is our job as photographers to capture beautiful and meaningful images for our clients, but it is also important to do so with sensitivity and care.
Looking for a photographer for your Halloween engagement or couples session? Let's chat!