Photographing in a Haunt

Posted on August 26, 2012


As Halloween fast approaches, something that everyone enjoys going is a haunted house. These very in size and the types of rooms contained within them. Being a photographer, we are often asked to shoot in them before, during, and after the season they are open. Some is for advertising, some for films, and some for fun.

For this photo shoot, there were two photographers. Our job was to create images with a “broken doll” kind of theme to see what we could do photographically. We were given great latitude in what we were allowed to do in the haunt, and the main goal was to impress the owner. From these test images, the owner was going to decide if he wanted to shoot a calendar of his haunt.

In this particular shoot, we were asked to show up the day of the shoot and without knowledge of where we are shooting. This was because it was a test shoot. Had this been an actual commercial shoot, I would insist on seeing the place before hand and going through with a camera and capturing details within the various rooms to come up with lighting plans and shoot concepts. This one, on the other hand, is a show up and make the best of what you see and can do with the equipment you brought and the models you have to work.

Once there, we were taken on a walk through of about 40% of the haunt. The rest is being redone and fixed from the abuse from the previous year. After shooting a film at a competing haunt for six weeks, I am amazed at the abuse that they get from people walking through them. That meant we were restricted to a small amount of space in my mind. The tour still took over an hour – and we used shortcuts to shorten the trek through the haunt.

My initial thought going through was that the place was going to be VERY dark – how am I going to get enough light to capture images. That was answered almost immediately by allowing us to use electrical outlets just about anywhere. If we had a problem finding an outlet, they would find us power to plug in. Next, was how do you keep the haunt feel? My thoughts were to use gels on two to three studio lights, keep the light very directional with grids and barn doors, and layer the lights to keep that haunted feel. This also meant difficulty in moving from one room to the next, and finding places for the lights. The other photographer used two continuous fluorescent lights in a soft box – daylight balanced without any gels. Both of us had a different vision and shot our vision. Keep in mind that a haunt uses darkness like we use light – just the complete opposite of what we do as  a photographer.  

Within the blog post, you will see some of my images that I captured from the shoot. A special thanks to the models: Lisa G, Chelsea W, Danielle, Sarah B, Carolyn L, Donna D, and Ragdoll. An extra thanks goes to Ragdoll for doing an exceptional job on everyone’s makeup for the shoot.

All information and images are ©2012 Don Krajewski on this post.

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