April 13, 2024
What Makes a Photo Scary?

What Makes a Photo Scary?

Photography is no easy game. But to make it scary is another challenge added to it.

Even with a terrifying touch to the images, it can give us an adrenaline rush. But the question is, what makes a photo scary?

With the right camera settings, elements, and rules of composition, you can create an unsettling photo.

Using the simplest features with the right photography techniques can make a photo look scary.

In this blog, let us understand briefly all the possible elements that add a mysterious and spine-tingling effect to your photos that make the perfect Halloween photoshoot ideas for couples and others.

Here are the top elements that make a photo look scary.

1. The Scary Shadows

The Scary Shadows

We have always thrived on the fear of shadows from our early days. And it somewhat still lurks within.

With shadows and the right photography skills, you can make a photo look scary and eerie and add an unsettling visual factor for your viewers.

You can begin by featuring shadows from dark corners and spaces of your home, like an attic, basement, or a dark hallway.

Some of the outdoor areas that make a photo scary with shadows are tree branches, walls, or paired with figurines.

With shadows, making overlapping patterns with other dark elements.

2. The Colors and Lighting of Photos

The Colors and Lighting of Photos

The interplay of lights and colors can help you achieve a hint of suspense in your photos.

All you have to do is a few strategic edits, and you can give a touch of horror and mystery to your photos.

Generally, color saturation is the best way to create that spine-chilling feeling. Making the elements in the photo less defined can do the work, too.

Other edits that will help make your photos look scary are opting for a cooler adjustment with the color temperature, featuring mid tones & contrast, and lowering brightness & shadows.

3. Show No Eyes

Show No Eyes

A photo with no eyes can make anybody feel uneasy. So, it is another way to create a picture that looks scary and gives a haunting vibe to your photography work.

You can block the eyes’ view in many ways in your photos. Shoot your pictures from the backside or strategically hide just the eyes.

This can be achieved by blocking the eyes using hands, shadows, or cropping out the face.

4. Ghostly Silhouettes

Ghostly Silhouettes

Use transparent materials to shoot the objects to give a suspenseful vibe.

The abstract visual feature of silhouettes creates a ghostly effect that is perfect for making the photos look haunting.

Semi-transparent materials are best for creating photo results that have an eerie overall effect.

Curtains, glasses, and windows are some ways you can achieve this scary detail.

5. Focus on the Subjects


For a photo to appear scary, what subject and background choices you choose will greatly impact the eeriness.

It is not necessary for you to choose that creeps out the viewers, but the elements should have a dark and mysterious vibe.

Choose the right locations for shooting your photos.

Places like hallways, ruins, fog, trees, or cramped basements make a great choice. If you feature a human for your photo, do the magic with makeup, dress, and facial features.

6. White Balance

White Balance

White balance is a very useful setting for dictating how colors are captured in varying lights.

With the right setting with the white balance, you can make the photo look scary in no matter of time.

Color manipulation using the white balance can be a useful way to give a supernatural feel to your photo by introducing cooler tones.

7. Light & Dark Together

Light & Dark Together

A pitch-black dropout is common in scary photos, but to make it appear more intense, a dramatic lighting effect is something you must try.

Choose a bright light spot. It can be anything like a ray of sun rays from the windows, a lamp, or a candle.

Using the sport metering tool, correct the exposure for your high-contrast photos.

The aim is to keep the background dark, featuring the exposed object with a light source.

Some More Features that Make the Photos Scary

Some More Features that Make the Photos Scary

  • Going monochrome, resonating with the dark aesthetics of a night, is perfect for introducing a touch of horror in your photos.
  • If you feature a person in your eerie photo, add an unsettling mystery by letting your subject look away. This creates a sense of suspense, perfect for your photo.
  • A tilt in the photo you are capturing makes it a bit uncomfortable. With a crooked horizon, a viewer may feel uneasy because of the psychological effect.
  • Add a motion blur effect to your photos that perfectly visualizes ghost stories. To do so, opt for slow shutter speed on your camera.
  • If you are a fan of horror movies, one thing you know that makes the scenes look ominous is a peeping. This photo idea is to click a photo from a position from a hiding spot.
  • Make your photos look both dramatic and scary by adding unnatural and mysterious lights in the pictures.
  • For your photos to have an eerie vibe, focus on weird textures like dusty furniture, broken windows, peeling paints on ceilings, or cracked walls.

Wrapping Up!

An added element of horror is what makes the photos look scary.

To feature a haunted look in your photos, the right objects, background, and camera settings can do wonders for your desired results.

Begin with clicking shadows or create tension with photos with ghostly silhouettes using semi-transparent materials.

The right and strategic play of colors is crucial in making a photo look scary.

If you are featuring a person, a simple detail like not showing his eyes can add the desired effects.

Let us know more ideas with which you create scary photos in the comments below.

Sophia Hernandez

Sophia Hernandez, with a Master's in Visual Arts, has been captivating audiences with her unique photographic perspectives since 2012. Her journey began as a gallery assistant in New York, where her passion for capturing the moment's essence flourished. Sophia joined our team in 2019, bringing a wealth of knowledge and an eye for the extraordinary. Her leisure time is often spent exploring urban landscapes, seeking inspiration for her next project.

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