Creepy Halloween Portrait Tutorial

Here is a photo idea for a creepy Halloween portrait. A blood oozing, zombie photo that is guaranteed to scare the living daylights out of most. This tutorial from Fstoppers takes you step by step through the process of getting your model ready for the shoot, setting up the lighting, achieving a sinister look, and post-processing:

Make Up

As you can imagine, getting the look of the model absolutely right is an important consideration for this kind of shoot. A cocktail of corn syrup mixed with chocolate syrup and a red dye made the blood color eerily accurate, and a little bit of makeup completed the look.

Lighting Arrangement

The key light was a flash with the power lowered and the flash head aimed upward to prevent shadows underneath the model’s eyes.

setting up a halloween portrait shoot

With the key light

A kicker light set up behind the model gave an extra pop to the image.

lighting tips for Halloween portrait

With the kicker light

The color of the background light was changed using a red gel to produce an effect more suited to the Halloween theme.

How to shoot a Halloween portrait

Gelled kicker light

Next, the fog machine was switched on to enhance the red gelled kicker light and add more of the creepy mood to the atmosphere.

How to use a fog machine for a Halloween shoot

Fog machine

Finally, to add a bit of dimension to the kicker light, a shape was cut into a cardboard box and placed about three feet in front of the kicker light.

how to tweak a kicker light for a creepy photo shoot

Adding shape to the kicker light

This is the final shot before post-processing:

Halloween photo shoot

Before Post-Processing

Post Processing

The post-processing routine involved blending an image of peeling paint and another grungy looking image using layer overlay to make the model look more zombie-like. Some quick levels adjustment and here’s the final image:

Creepy Halloween portrait photo tips

Final Image

Creepy, isn’t it?

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