Halloween is coming – Use these lighting tips to plan your spooky photo shoot

Sep 20, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Halloween is coming – Use these lighting tips to plan your spooky photo shoot

Sep 20, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Ok, so, we’re in the latter half of September. I think that means it’s ok to start talking about Halloween now. Christmas is still definitely off-limits, but Halloween? Yeah, I think we’re good. And you know what that means. Spooky photoshoots!

This video from the folks at Aputure goes over how to create suspense in your film with lighting. But the tricks and principles contained within it apply just as equally to shooting photos, too.

In the video, Valentina Vee talks with DP Jon Salmon about how to light up a scene for horror. Jon talks about how he approaches shooting a nighttime exterior horror scene and the steps he takes to light it. He mentions a number of tricks he uses to trick the viewer into thinking the light is coming from somewhere it’s not. Like bouncing the light off the surface of the pool to make it look like it’s lighting the subject from the water. Much easier and safer than actually trying to put a big powerful light underwater.

There’s a lot of psychology that goes into lighting a scene like this to let the viewer perceive it the way you intend it to come across, and Jon talks about some of those considerations. Like perhaps sometimes you might not want to light a subject you want to be creepy, and instead, keep them as a silhouette against a lit background instead.

It’s a good breakdown and gets you thinking about the techniques used. And, now, when you watch a horror movie, you can start to dissect it a little better to try and figure out how and why they lit it the way they did.

Have you started planning your spooky Halloween shoots yet?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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