I really, really love this time of year.  There is so much to love about fall, but one of my absolute favorite parts is seeing kids all dressed up in their costumes.  My kids would spend so much time trying to figure out exactly what they wanted to be... kind of like a metaphor for growing up.  They'd get to try on all these different personas and figure out what they liked best.  So cool.

Most of these photos are from a few years ago and I just treasure them. It wasn't so long ago that they even dressed up together in a THEME! I really miss those days. I may even have just one trick-or-treater left in my house (although, my daughter has had this conceptual idea floating around in her brain for a few months, so she may have a costume, too).  

Honestly, it can kind of be overwhelming to just get them dressed, fed, and out the door. No doubt they had a costume parade at school earlier that morning and you barely have time to get the oldest home from soccer in time to help them all dress for the big night, but getting quality pictures with your camera (even the one on your phone) is totally possible!  So, here are some of my tips for taking better pics of your kids in their costumes this year.

1. LET THEM PLAY

The whole point of dressing up is to let them pretend! In their mind, they ARE their character, so instead of begging or bribing them to stand still, try entering their world! "Obi-Wan, there are enemy forces approaching from the south.  Hurry, activate the force!" Obviously, I have no idea if "activating the force" is a "thing" and chances are your kid doesn't either. They will totally respond to your enthusiasm. Just invent a fun and semi-plausible situation for their character to enter into and snap away! Most people know, I could care less if a kid smiles for me. Genuine emotion will always will the day in my book. I'd rather see a fierce warrior princess or a melancholy artist, than a strained smile. Let them do what they want to do, anyway. By the way- your first scenario may stink. Don't be afraid to try again. The more ridiculous, the better!

2. GO ON LOCATION

This is kind of an extension of my previous tip, but if you have some extra time, try putting your kids' characters in their "natural setting".  The Halloween that my kids chose a Star Wars theme, was perhaps the worst for us, personally. Our sweet German Shepherd had just passed away that morning and we were devastated. Having just seen Ashley Campbell's Star Wars photo shoot with her family, I decided to try and cheer the kids up by taking them to the moon of Endor (Again, whaaat??? I'm not a Star Wars geographer and it sounded good at the time).  We even managed to track down a Darth Vader costume and dad surprised them with an epic battle. Even now, these photos bring back some pretty amazing memories. Try putting mini Steve Jobs in front of a computer or young Frieda Kahlo at her Fisher Price easel. You get the idea! It will feel even more authentic to your kids, which will give you even better pics.

So glad that photography can freeze those moments forever.

3. TURN OFF YOUR FLASH

I know. It's night and night = flash, but bear with me here. Some of these houses are absolutely incredible. People go all out in their decorating and sometimes, while there isn't a lot of light, there's enough to catch a pretty awesome picture. The kids in this photo aren't even in focus, but I love it so. They got all their nerve up to knock on the door of that super creepy house and then they shrieked and ran! Ha! The blur, for me, just adds to the story. What a great memory. One day, they'll cruise by with their high school friends and try to remember exactly what was so scary. Can we just talk about the colors, too?!! Amazing! Put on your photojournalist hat and turn off your flash... at least for a few shots.

Side note: for those of you who have an extreme aversion to blur, here is my number one tip for getting a better photo in a low light, motion situation: video. Just start videoing whatever you want to take a picture of. Afterward, pause the video at the spot you want the picture, tap the screen again to get rid of the stuff on the screen, and take a screenshot. It makes a big difference.

4. JUST GO WITH IT

I know how precious every holiday is with your littles. It often feels like a lot of pressure to get it all just right because you only get one shot at their fifth Halloween. I'm actually not even joking. Some of you stayed up until four in the morning sewing the final details on Elsa's dress and you just cannot let it go. I know we're always so mindful of trying to treasure every little moment. Honestly, some of the best memories come from the things that don't go as planned. Just go with it. My favorite Halloween memory is when I had to break into my own house with one of my best friends. No photographic evidence exists, but I doubt either of us will ever forget it. 

Then, there was the year that my son wanted to be "Pumpkin Man". We had zero idea what this was and we soon figured out that he didn't either. All he wanted was this enormous jack-o-lantern from Target and to somehow attach it to his body? We were totally frustrated by this costume, but he was persistent and it ended up being amazing. His dad even added battery-operated lights to the inside, so he glowed at night. I'm so glad we let him just do what he wanted instead of pressuring him to choose something easier.

 

I hope these tips will help you get some great shots of your kids this fall and if they don't, just hold tight to Tip #4.  Do your best, forget the rest.  Enjoy this season with your kids. I'd give anything to do it all over again!

 

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