What a Socially-Distanced Halloween Looks Like in Images

What a Social Distance Halloween Looks Like in Images

We asked five talented photographers from across the globe to share their strategies for capturing Halloween this holiday season.

Halloween will undoubtedly look different this year than it did last year. Disneyland has canceled its Oogie Boogie Bash, and New York will not have its Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. Crowded costume parties and haunted houses are off the table, and traditional trick-or-treating, with people handing out treats to neighbors going door-to-door, will be replaced by more creative, contactless solutions.

Halloween's New NormalHalloween will look a little different this year. Image by Jamie Grill / Tetra Images.

Still, despite these changes, families around the world will come together to celebrate the much-loved holiday, whether it’s by carving pumpkins, dressing up at home, or coming up with out-of-the-box solutions. According to research, seventy-four percent of millennial moms and young parents say that Halloween this year is more important than ever, and sixty-three percent of adults believe that people will find fun, creative, safe ways to celebrate.

Unconventional Trick-or-TreatingThis holiday is the perfect opportunity to capture new, unique trick-or-treating images. Image by Marti Austin.

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“Of course, Halloween is one of my favorite subjects to photograph in the fall, and this year will be no different,” Virginia-based photographer Marti Austin tells us. “This time, however, I’ll be on the lookout to capture the creative ways people incorporate masks into their costumes or unconventional ways to trick-or-treat while maintaining a social distance.”

As leading candy companies revamp their Halloween marketing and encourage safe celebrations, more brands will tap into this cultural moment by incorporating visuals that advocate for social responsibility, while also embracing the holiday spirit.

painting.jpg?w=750" alt="Safe Marketing Strategies" class="wp-image-145944" />Candy companies are revamping their Halloween marketing strategies to ensure a safe holiday season. Image by Inti St Clair / Blend.

We asked five talented photographers from across the globe to tell us their plans for capturing Halloween this year. They also shared their tips for making the most of the situation. Read on for some ideas, and consider adapting them to suit your own family and workflow. As always, remember to follow the state, local, territorial, or tribal regulations in your area, as they might vary from place-to-place.

Pro Tip: Get Outside

Outdoor Photo ShootsSchedule photo shoots in a park or outdoor arena. Image by taratynova.photo.

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Indoor gatherings pose a greater risk than outdoor ones, so head outside. “This year, because of COVID, I’ve decided to hold any seasonal sessions in a park or woods, rather than a cramped studio,” Iuliia Taratynova of taratynova.photo explains. “As a family photographer primarily, it’s my responsibility to keep everyone safe, and I feel that’s the safest way to do it. I’ll be avoiding small studios for the foreseeable future and checking in regularly with the families I photograph to see where they feel most comfortable.”

Emerging Trend: Trick-or-Treat Scavenger Hunts

Organize a Scavenger HuntOrganize an at-home scavenger hunt. Image by alinabuphoto.

As people around the world limit contact with others, some are opting for at-home, scavenger hunt-inspired trick-or-treating. This kind of event can be done with family within the house or with neighbors from a distance, as children enjoy decorations from afar.

Some families are opting to turn their houses into a small “neighborhood,” with children going room-to-room rather than door-to-door. Others plan to leave individually wrapped candies on the yards, clotheslines, or trees outside their homes. Some are “ghosting” by leaving treats and goody bags on friends’ porches. These are all potential ideas to shoot this year.

Pro Tip: Take a Documentary Approach

In-house PhotosCapture creative, in-house photos of Halloween-related activities. Image by Kelly Marleau.

“I think we’ll see a lot more documentary style, at-home photos popping up this year, as opposed to only bringing the camera out during bigger, more memorable events like the pumpkin patches and apple orchards, Halloween festivals, etc.,” Marti Austin explains. “I think being forced to stay home and social distance has forced a lot of people to really be creative in the way we see and capture life inside our own homes.’

Capture Natural MomentsCapture images of natural moments unfolding. Image by Marti Austin.

“When I photograph my own family, I try not to interfere too much, but let the moments unfold naturally. I might give gentle prompts to get my subjects in the light or facing the direction I want them, but I want the moment and emotion to be as authentic as possible.”

Emerging Trend: Jaw-Dropping Decorations

Create a Festive EnvironmentCreate a festive aesthetic with fun decorations. Image by taratynova.photo. Gear: Nikon D750 camera, Nikon 85mm 1.4 lens. Settings: Exposure 1/320 sec; f2.0; ISO 2000.

Pumpkin carving and decorating is still on the agenda, and families are going all-out with decorations. This year could be a great time to set up a DIY, at-home photo shoot with family members. Grab some photos of the yard and porch, as well.

Pro Tip: Collect Some Accessories

Invest in AccessoriesAccessories and props aid in the authenticity and dynamics of your photos. Image by Sergey Novikov.

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“Don’t forget to gather accessories and props — pumpkins, candles, toy spiders in jars, etc.,” Iuliia Taratynova adds. “I have already found a couple of pumpkins and managed to get some witch cloaks to help set the mood on set. Have a look at pictures by your favorite photographers to get more ideas.”

Emerging Trend: Costumes with Masks

Costume DesignsCreate a DIY costume that incorporates a cloth mask into its design. Image by Dusida.


As per the CDC, a costume mask is not an adequate substitute for a cloth mask, and you should avoid wearing a cloth mask underneath a Halloween mask, as that can make it difficult to breathe. Instead, they’re advising people to “consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.”

You can pull out all the stops here with paint, rhinestones, and more. “You can always try to design a DIY costume that incorporates cloth masks,” Paris-based photographer Sergey Novikov says. “Just don’t forget about copyrighted details and logos on any clothing, as you’ll have to remove those or edit them out.”

Pro Tip: Get Creative with Illustrations

Incorporate IllustrationsIncorporate fun, imaginative illustrations regarding health-care related details. Image by Dusida Jeerajitt.

Artists like Dusida Jeerajitt are finding clever ways to visualize this year’s Halloween in images. “I believe that people still want to celebrate with their friends and family this year, and fun, imaginative illustrations can help them do that,” the artist tells us.

“There are two main ideas that illustrators have to take into account during the design process: healthcare-related details and props like surgical masks and social distancing markers, plus all the familiar Halloween elements like pumpkins, lamps, witch hats, brooms, or candy. Think about creative ways to incorporate these two themes into a single image: traditional celebrations and social distancing.’

Incorporate the MaskMake the mask a part of the costume. Image by esthermm.

“My best-sellers leading up to Halloween are always images that reflect the joy and warmth of the season, like smiling mummies, children in witch costumes, candy, and funny monsters. I feel strongly that images related to this holiday can still reflect joy, happiness, and humor, while also being responsible and taking relevant healthcare protocols into account.”

Emerging Trend: Trick-or-Treat by Mail

Send a Care PackageSend a care package full of goodies via mail. Image by Evgeny Atamanenko. Gear: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II camera, Canon EF 35mm 1.4 II lens. Settings: Exposure 1/125 sec; f2.2; ISO 200.


Missing out on the traditional trick-or-treat experience? Some are choosing to send candy care packages to loved ones this year. Think: photos of families wrapping packages, opening boxes, and receiving contactless deliveries.

Pro Tip: Celebrate the Little Things

Celebrate FamilyCelebrate family this year with a focus on intimate gatherings. Image by Evgeny Atamanenko.

“During this vulnerable time, many of us have had a chance to slow down, smell the roses, and spend time with our families,” Russian-based photographer Evgeny Atamanenko says. “In the age of social distancing, it’s so important to celebrate family, and that will be the main topic of my images this year.’

“Perhaps more than ever, this Halloween is going to be a family holiday. You will see lots of children’s smiles and small family gatherings in my photos. And, face coverings too, of course. In my work, I’m prioritizing natural moments and genuine emotions over traditional posing.”

Emerging Trend: Virtual Costume Contests

Zoom Costume ContestHold a Zoom Halloween costume contest. Image by Sergey Novikov.

While in-person contests and crowded parades might be on hold, some are opting for Zoom costume contests. Use this time to get creative with your costumes and capture some individual portraits at home and in the yard. You can even use fun backgrounds, if you’re holding the contest virtually — multiple costume changes allowed.

Pro Tip: Get Creative in Post

Outdoor ImagesTake advantage of Autumn’s beauty with shots of landscapes and outdoor playtime. Image by Cavan Images.

“My advice is to try to find a new opportunity in every situation, no matter how difficult,” Sergey Novikov says. “One door closes, and another opens. If you can’t shoot group portraits this Halloween, you can still take individual portraits of people in their best costumes.’

“From there, maybe you put those portraits in a fairy tale-inspired mixed-media background, or you focus on isolated portraits against a plain background, or something else entirely. Autumn is the most picturesque time of year — what about combining your landscape images and studio shoots in post-production? This year, I’ll focus more on creative post-production and shooting with my own children at home.”

Emerging Trend: Scary Movie Drive-ins

Have a Movie-Watching NightHave a movie-watching night with the family. Image by Jennifer Bogle.

Antigo, a city in Wisconsin, will forgo trick-or-treating this year in favor of a scary movie drive-in event. Photographers can visualize this idea at home, as well. Gather the family for a fun, cozy night of movie-watching, bring out the candy, and keep your camera within reach.

Pro Tip: Keep It Timeless

Create Timeless ImagesCreate timeless images that will endure for years to come. Image by Sergey Novikov. Gear: Canon 5DS R camera, Canon EF 17-40 f/4L lens. Settings: Focal length 35mm; exposure 1/200 sec; f8.0; ISO 100.

“To me, stock photography is a marathon, not a sprint,” Sergey Novikov tells us. “When planning my shoots, I always ask myself, ‘Will this photo still be in demand in two years, three years, five years?’ I build my whole workflow around this idea.” While Halloween will look different this year, there are still ways to create images that continue to sell years down the road.

For instance, authentic and relatable photos will always be relevant. “I think that in the future, there will be an even stronger demand for candid, real, and genuine emotions,” Novikov continues. “The only thing that changes is the context. We can’t know if kids will play the same games next Halloween or if we’ll still be wearing masks, but natural, honest emotions will never go out of style.”

Cover image by Evgeny Atamanenko.

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