Halloween Photography Tips!

Halloween is almost here! That season where you get to dress your kids up in amazingly adorable costumes, then try and chase them down the street in their sugar-spiked frenzy, in the dark, and take overexposed, blurry photos that doesn’t reflect the glory of all the hard work you put into getting that costume together! D’oh!

We totally feel your pain. And this year, we wanted to share some tips to photograph your children in their Halloween duds so that you can have beautiful photos that match your memories!

1. Ditch your pop-up flash

If your SLR camera has a pop-up flash and you’re shooting on automatic mode, it will likely just wash out the details and “spooky lighting” effect that Halloween is all about. If you’re still using your camera in Automatic Mode, turn your camera to P mode. This will suppress the pop up flash.

When you don’t have your flash available, it’s important to look for other sources of light. A well-lit porch can be a great place to get some live-action trick or treating photos.


2. Raise your ISO

A higher ISO number makes your camera more sensitive to the existing light and will enable you to shoot without a flash in lower light conditions. Start with your ISO at 800 at dusk and keep raising it as it gets darker and darker. Different cameras have different ISO capabilities but most can shoot comfortably at at least ISO 800 or 1600.

3. Don’t wait until it’s dark outside to shoot!

Our favorite thing to do with our kiddos here at Mamas with Cameras is to do an early round of “Photo Trick or Treating”, going out at about 4:30pm before it’s dark in order to get photos of the kids while it’s still light out. There are always a few people home, and it gets them warmed up before the main event!


If you can’t shoot early on Halloween, there’s no law against getting your kids dressed up the weekend before and just shooting some photos on your own front stoop!

boo4(c)mamaswithcameras4. Rock your prime lens 

When you’re shooting in low natural light, being able to choose a lower f-stop will allow you to harness more natural light. If you have a prime lens (a 50mm f/1.8 for example), try putting your camera in Av or A (aperture priority mode) and experiment with how your photos turn out at f/2.8 or lower.


5. Photographing Jack-o-Lanterns

With your little raccoons all pumped up and running around, it can be a fun exercise to take a photo of a nice still subject for a change! You can experiment with your own Jack-o-Lantern before halloween. The key thing here will be to balance the exposure so you see the face and still catch some outside details.

-Timing is key: shoot your Jack-o-lantern at dusk for better lighting

-Put an extra candle inside your pumpkin to provide more light

-Think about extra light sources outside your Jack-o-Lantern: can you place it close to a pathway light? Can you add some extra light, like a string of holiday lights or even a glow stick to add some light to the outside of the pumpkin?

-Flip your camera to manual mode (M) and set your shutter speed to 1/40 of a second. Set your white balance (WB) to incandescent (the picture of the lightbulb). Put your focal point on the edge of one of the eyes and lower your f-stop until your exposure meter in your viewfinder is at zero. If you’re not sure about your meter, then take a photo and if it’s too dark, lower your f-stop, and if it’s too bright raise it up. (We like to call this “goldilocks” metering-too hot, too cold, just right!) You can experiment with exposures that show more of the face, and more of the pumpkin shapes


Happy Shooting! We hope to see some awesome photos from all of you!


If you live in the Seattle area and you (or your Mama buddies) want to learn more practical, hands-on settings and tips to improve your photography on your DSLR and mirrorless cameras, and can attend one of our Seattle area workshops, you can register for Introduction to Digital Photography (Saturday, November 14) or our Using Manual (M) Mode to take Great Natural Light Photos (Saturday, December 12)!

The Perfect Mother’s Day Gift- A Lifetime of Beautiful Photos!

When we want photos that truly capture our kids, sometimes an iPhone just doesn’t cut it. If you’re starting to think of the perfect Mother’s Day gift for YOURSELF or the mama in your life, our Introduction to Digital Photography Workshop or our Taking Great Natural Light Photos in Manual (M) Mode Workshop (our next level up) are 3.5 hour afternoon workshops that will return a lifetime of memorable photographs! What mom doesn’t want great photos of the precious and fleeting moments of their kids as they grow up?



Did you buy a digital SLR camera but have no idea how to use it outside of the automatic setting? Does the idea of reading an instruction manual make you nauseous? Are you interested in taking amazing pictures of your kids, but feel intimidated by technology? We cut through technical jargon and teach you what you need to know to take great photographs of your kids.

In a few short hours, we’ll ground you in the basic definitions and controls on your digital SLR camera so that your photos of your child’s big milestones can be as beautiful and moving as the moments themselves.



Have you started to explore the different shooting modes in your camera, but are stumped in very low light or backlight situations? Have you shied away from shooting in Manual Mode (M) because it seems too overwhelming? Have you been experimenting with shooting in Manual and have no idea why your pictures are blurry or over/under-exposed?

This workshop is designed for Mamas who have basic familiarity with their digital SLRs and who have been shooting in the semi-automatic modes (P, A/Av and S/Tv mode), and are ready to take control of all kinds of different lighting situations in the fun-filled world of shooting in manual (M) mode!

Manual mode is great for tricky lighting situations (shooting in backlight, low natural light), and for times when the semi-automatic modes are not giving you the style of picture that you’re looking for.

The workshop will cover:

-A quick review of the exposure triangle (aperture, shutter, ISO) and focusing

-What the heck your meter (the -2/+2 scale in your viewfinder that moves all the time) is trying to tell you

-How to know which metering mode you should be in

-Exposing for different lighting situations (with lots of hands-on practice!!)

-How to use light to maximize the creative impact of your images- inside or out

To apply the concepts, we will be having hands-on shooting exercises and live models to practice on!

The small class size and women-only environment will ensure that you have plenty of opportunities to ask questions of the workshop leaders and have a fun, community learning experience! You won’t believe how far you’ll advance in just one afternoon!

Workshop space is limited and is on a first come, first serve basis.

Wenmei Hill Joins Digital Photography Review as Editorial Manager

Mamas With Cameras is pleased to announce that co-founder Wenmei Hill has joined the staff of Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com) as Editorial Manager. With over 70 million daily page views, dpreview.com is the premier online source of information about digital photography, including the most comprehensive database of expert camera gear, lens, and software tests and reviews.
Wenmei Hill, Co-Founder of Mamas With Cameras, joins  dpreview.com as Editorial Manager
Wenmei Hill, Co-Founder of Mamas With Cameras, joins dpreview.com as Editorial Manager
Wenmei, our resident “Nikonista,” couldn’t be more thrilled to step into this role.  Says Wenmei of her new position: “This position combines my passion for photography with my natural tendency to geek out over gear, lighting and software details. “ Wenmei is also thrilled that this role dovetails so well with her work at Mamas With Cameras. “I’ll be right at the center of all the new and exciting information about the digital photography world, including the best gear recommendations for our Mamas With Cameras. That will be a great asset to all the mamas who join us for our workshops and meetups!”
Wenmei’s passion for learning and teaching photography, her dedication to the art, and her natural talent have culminated in this exciting leadership opportunity in the digital photography world. We couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come.