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A Stock Photographer’s Guide To Shopping The Holiday Sales


This is a guest post by Karen Foley. Karen Foley is a professional freelance photographer who loves sharing the joy of her art with others. See Karen’s work at dreamstime.com. As the holiday season is ready to set on fire, Karen is excited to share her creative shopping ideas for the photographers.

The food has all been eaten, the relatives have gone home and kids have been put to bed. The holiday is over for another year. Now it is time to turn your attention to shopping for the biggest shopping day of the year.

You might be thinking Thanksgiving and Black Friday here, but if you are interested in shooting stock photography, the holiday sales to keep an eye on are the after Halloween bargains!

Stock photography is not all about smiling happy people doing stuff, it’s about capturing universal themes in ways that are easy to visually grasp. How better to do that than with the many props and costumes available inexpensively after the greatest of all dress-up holidays?

Here’s a quick guide of things to look for – other than, or maybe in addition to, the Halloween candy – when sale signs go up at your favorite Halloween supply store.

Start with the costumes

Halloween costumes have evolved over the years from the flimsy firetraps of yesteryears into realistic looking outfits of today. Avoid the naughty nurse genre, and head straight for the uniform sections.

Think about the various scenarios you can use military, first responder, sports or professional uniforms in your images in the upcoming year. Buy for the various size and genders of models you might be able to coerce into them in the coming year – including yourself.


Don’t completely pass by the fantasy section – Steampunk is a genre with many applications, and you just never know when you’ll need that “Big Foot” costume.

Go for the accessories

Don’t forget to add the accessories. Wigs, hats, gloves and stockings will help to set a more realistic scene in your images. Accessories can also be used alone to create a statement – a soldiers hat next to flowers on a grave, or the whimsy of devil’s horns on a piece of chocolate cake can speak volumes.

The Halloween make-up available now is near theatrical quality and not just for zombies and vampires – although those are fun as well.

Makeup And Props

Stock up on a wide variety of creams, colors and effects to create multiple looks. You will be surprised the number of times you’ll pull them out for a shoot. And grab some of the blood and gore while you’re there – it just might come in handy someday.

Don’t forget lights for dramatic effects

The eerie effects created for Halloween can be re-purposed over and over for different impact. Buy a smoke machine to use in disco settings or spider webs to simulate neglect or age in a scene. Colored lights are great for making light trails, orbs and domes when light painting, and don’t forget the great bokeh effect you can create with them as well.


Props and decoration pieces

Costume props and decoration pieces can be used in a wide variety of applications non-holiday related. Look for classic items that can be re-purposed again and again throughout the year. My poor skeleton guy has been in the closet, grabbing water in the desert, standing in for medical scenes, and the list goes on and on.

Keep an open mind – and watchful eye – as you browse the after holiday sales. Dog and children’s costumes are great for dressing up a teddy bear. Not sure where you can use that skull and cross-bone?

What does it matter at bargain basement prices? Grab a few out of the ordinary objects to help fuel your creativity for the rest of the year. You won’t have another chance to grab these bargains for 365 days!

About the author: Karen Foley is a professional freelance photographer who loves sharing the joy of her art with others. See more of Karen’s work at dreamstime.com.

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