Take in­spi­ra­tion from folk­lore to cre­ate an ed­i­to­rial pho­to­shoot.

Practical Photography (UK) - - Creative Guide -

WHAT BET­TER WAY TO cel­e­brate Hal­loween than by delv­ing into the ex­cit­ing depths of lo­cal leg­ends to cre­ate a fan­tas­ti­cally spooky por­trait shoot. While fa­mous Bri­tish myths are widely known about, such as the Black Shuck and will-o’-the-wisp, lo­cal leg­ends are an un­tapped source of creative fun. From un­canny tales of ill-fated lovers to ru­mours of beasts let loose over foggy moors, you’re in the unique po­si­tion to trans­form your town’s mythol­ogy into amaz­ing pho­tog­ra­phy.

Dis­cover lo­cal leg­ends

The best part of liv­ing in the UK is that there’s so much his­tory em­bed­ded in the walls of our old towns. Al­most every area boasts a macabre event steeped in mys­tery from years ago that’s per­fect in­spi­ra­tion for your photo. You may find that there’s a par­tic­u­lar myth that springs to mind for your shoot, but if not then don’t worry. Many cities, towns and vil­lages will have books or web­sites that cover events of his­tor­i­cal im­por­tance that oc­curred within the town walls. If you flick through, you may be able to find a good story to recre­ate. Al­ter­na­tively, try talk­ing to the lo­cal li­brar­ian or town coun­cil, as they may also be able to point you in the right di­rec­tion. If you’re still un­able to find some­thing that in­ter­ests you, sim­ply look fur­ther afield.

Pre­pare your shoot

Once you’ve cho­sen your spooky story, the next thing to do is de­cide how you’re go­ing to in­ter­pret it into a great photo. For our shoot, we used the leg­end of the East Somer­ton witch, who was buried alive in the mid­dle of a church. In re­venge, her wooden leg sprouted into a mag­nif­i­cent oak tree that de­stroyed the build­ing and left it in ru­ins. Not only is this a great story, but it’s also set in an amaz­ing lo­ca­tion that’s per­fect for a shoot. When plan­ning how to vis­ually in­ter­pret the tale, we strayed away from the stereo­typ­i­cal witch im­agery that you or­di­nar­ily see. The leg­end is set in the 17th cen­tury, which was at the height of

the witch tri­als. Hun­dreds of in­no­cent women, of­ten mid­wives or nurses, were sen­tenced to death. So, we imag­ined our witch as a peace­ful peas­ant who was un­justly killed and who de­stroyed the church in right­eous vengeance.

While to­tal his­tor­i­cal ac­cu­racy can hardly be ex­pected for a Hal­loween pho­to­shoot, if you want to in­cor­po­rate pe­riod cos­tumes into your im­ages, then we’d rec­om­mend us­ing the­atri­cal cos­tume hire com­pa­nies. The clothes tend to be of good qual­ity, and hir­ing for just a sin­gle day can of­ten turn out to be cheaper than buy­ing the in­di­vid­ual as­sets on­line. While hir­ing a cos­tume can be a great way to pre­pare for your shoot, don’t be afraid to get a lit­tle crafty as well. DIY-ing your props not only makes your photo to­tally unique, it’s also a great way to have fun with your pho­tog­ra­phy. When cre­at­ing your props, make sure you stick to your shoot’s theme. We bought an af­ford­able cos­tume hat from eBay and found a fallen tree branch. We then adorned it with a fake flower gar­land and some un­re­fined amethysts to cre­ate our witch’s staff.

Cap­ture spooky por­traits

Once you’ve found your con­cept and cre­ated the per­fect cos­tume, it’s time to shoot your spooky por­traits. If you’re us­ing a creepy lo­ca­tion like we did, then you’ll want to make sure you’re us­ing the right kind of lens. While por­trai­ture tends to re­quire fo­cal lengths nar­rower than 50mm, we’d rec­om­mend a 20mm fo­cal length for wider en­vi­ron­men­tal por­traits. This will al­low you to cap­ture as much of your back­ground as pos­si­ble. You’ll also want to use a wide aper­ture of around f/4. The shal­low depth-of-field that this pro­vides will help your model stand out in her en­vi­ron­ment at the same time as show­cas­ing the great lo­ca­tion. Re­mem­ber to keep your ISO as low as pos­si­ble (as this will pro­vide great image qual­ity) while still main­tain­ing a fast enough shut­ter speed to shoot hand­held.

Above Use Pho­to­shop’s Se­lec­tive Color tool to dim vi­brant greens and cre­ate a sin­is­ter colour ef­fect.

Kit choice Nikon AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8 £729 We cap­tured our wide-an­gle en­vi­ron­men­tal por­traits with the fan­tas­tic Nikon 20mm f/1.8 prime. For tack-sharp im­ages and an ul­tra-wide per­spec­tive, there’s no bet­ter lens. nikon.co.uk

Above Use a 50mm or longer fo­cal length for close-up por­traits free from dis­tor­tion.

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