5 Photo Sessions, One Peacock Halloween Costume

What do you think of when you think of photo sessions in Halloween costumes in today’s photography industry? I immediately see “Mini Sessions” flashing in my head with super cute scenery or a fun backdrop. Something like these:

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The Cute Factor

The top collage of photos above were taken in my first year of photography. I knew nothing about composition and my only instinct was to get the entire scene in my frame – no details. They were all shot in jpeg. The second photo was taken in my second year. This photo was shot in RAW. It was inspired by other studio set ups I saw on Pinterest and I over-edited her eyes. In my first two years, I didn’t know or think to do anything different than to find a perfect location or studio set up that would make you melt.

Today, I am a much different shooter. I visualize my shooting much less than I used to. That sentence could be taken two ways, so let me explain: I am very particular with shooting and there is a reason why I click the shutter. I do not, however, PLAN a session in advance as far as posing or purposely work to make a session turn out any certain way (studio, pretty location, matchy wardrobe, etc.). Around the house, I shoot very on the fly when I’m inspired by something my kids are doing or light. I wanted to incorporate both shooting styles into the kids’ Halloween costumes.

By creating multiple photo sessions around the same thing (Halloween costume and scenes in this example), the end result will deeply speak to you and tell you where your shooting style shines. 

So is there something wrong with the photos above? No! I mean, they could use a little technical makeover, but at the end of the day, they are still super cute photos. In the collage, the bottom left photo has been my most re-pinned image on my Pinterest account with over 170 re-pins. The photos certainly have the cute factor. My point is: they could simply be pushed to another level.


Halloween Photography Session Idea 1

First, I envisioned my kids in our backyard field. I thought of the fall tones and vibrant sunset. I thought of Kendall’s hair blowing in the wind with her dress flowing like it is about to drift away. I imagined Levi walking down the trail exploring his new environment. The thing was, my mind went blank when I thought about how to achieve the look and expressions I envisioned. Giving direction to children is a challenge as they want to do their own thing. I didn’t know what to say to make it happen.

I shoot much better with natural movement. I attempted to have Kendall pick up pieces of her dress and let them fly – that was a fail. Levi had zero balance walking through the uneven terrain. Then there was me with my big, clunky camera trying not to trip too. Another fail. Luckily, my mom and husband were with me and entertaining my kiddos. So what did I do?

I decided to shut up and shoot.

Maybe I will never master the art of posing. Maybe I will. The point is: embrace where you are strong and run with it. I didn’t get the photos I envisioned, but man I love what I got on the first round of Halloween Photography 2014 in the Masse family. These are totally not my typical style and that is what made this so fun!

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Halloween Photo Session Idea 2

My daughter keeps calling the colorful, fall leaves on the trees “oooooh”s. It’s a direct result of me going a little overboard yelling, “oooooooh!! look at that one!” as we drove around this fall. I wanted to photograph her on our dirt road surrounded by the fall beauty.

We didn’t walk as far down the road to the trees (lots of farm here), because I became inspired by the soy bean field. Similar to the last session, I wanted this look of independence and strength amongst the breeze. We could hear the grasshoppers moving about and she was terrified of the soybeans. I didn’t know what to do. I thought it was going to be a fail. I let her step out of the field so she was comfortable and far enough away from the soybeans not to have a toddler meltdown.

I didn’t include Levi in this session simply because his green shirt for his costume was in the laundry. He tagged along in the wagon being pulled by my husband.

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See what I mean… Miss Nervous Nelly up above? I let go of the idea of photographing with this beautiful, farmland background. So often it happens where we set out to shoot one way and it ends up another. It’s important not to beat yourself up or think that YOU failed. There are so many elements that line up the stars to make a session what you envision so celebrate those occasions when you do rock what you set out to do. It wasn’t happening for me today, so I decided to shoot what I know:

the details.



To end this little photo shoot, we got a little wet! We were looking at the water in the ditch. She noticed the “oooohs” on the ground and picked up two leaves. I grabbed them as she was showing me that they were “lellow.” And then she did what most country girls do: got very interested in the mud puddles. Yes, this happened before Halloween and I knew I was have some serious mud on to take care of on her costume. But why would I stop this? It is her true personality coming out.



Seeing her personality is what moves me when I look at a photo; so it’s what I shot without halting and telling her to “Get out!”

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Halloween Photo Session Idea 3

Part of me thought about fun it would be to incorporate a little real-life dress up into the Halloween Photo Sessions. Meaning, when kids play dress up, they play with their toys and go about their day like they are in any old outfit. Kendall likes to help me cook. She especially loves making soup with me and stirring the pot while standing on a step latter. So I thought, why not? Afterwards, she got into the fridge for juice and enjoyed it at the table. Disclaimer: my husband was next to her the entire time in these photos where she is near the hot surface. Safety first yo!

For this session, it was all about letting her be herself and me simply observing.

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Halloween Photo Session #5

All Hallows Eve.

A snowfall on Halloween is something I do not ever remember in all of my life. From a parent’s perspective, we nixed the trick-or-treating for an hour idea and drove to my parent’s and only went to a few houses. We spent the rest of the night having take out and hanging out. From a photographer’s perspective, everything inside of me screaming to shoot shoot shoot!!

I first took photos of us arriving at my family’s house and also Kendall’s awe of the snow. Then, in true Marie form, I started documenting the little bit of trick-or-treating we did. Levi was the Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar, but was all bundled up and carried by my husband. Kendall, my little peacock, was carried by my dad – that girl loves her Papa. Even though we were cold, we made the best of it, and I was dying over the bits of light I found in the porch lights!

Before you click away from this post, I’d love to hear which session was YOUR favorite. Comment below! I’m listening.

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Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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  • I love them all! Have you ever ran across someone online that reminded you so much of yourself? Well, you remind me oh so much of myself, from the way I like to photograph, right down to how you present your writing. Ex: “Safety first yo!” I so would have said that, lol! In other words, I get the humor your using as a mom especially. Some don’t get that, but I do and totally appreciate it! Great post…again.

    • hehehe there was a photo I put on my Facebook Page last year and this one momma tore me apart on my page. My 2 year old had snuck out of her room and emptied my refrigerator – every item, every condiment, everything onto the floor & then fell asleep in the middle of her line up of food. She was appalled that I slept through it. So now, I am like all paranoid of judgey people. LOL Thank you for the comment, it made me smile 🙂 Glad to hear there are more like-minded people like me out there!!! xo

  • My fave is session #5! If someone had shown me those pics, I would have known it was yours immediately!! ?