Saturday, October 15, 2011


In this post 9/11 world of vampire books, zombies, the TV show True Blood, and the goth fashion scene it is not surprising that Halloween is probably America’s favorite holiday. Thus we respond to photos of old costumes and all of the rites and rituals associated with the scariest night of the year. It takes us back to our own childhood and the crazy getups we wore with such pride.  This blog entry brings together some of the participants’ favorite Halloween photos which are sure to scare you, make you laugh, and perhaps give you a slight shudder.  But no tricks here, just photo treats for the viewing.   Enjoy!

This Halloween image grabbed me the moment I saw it. And, no, it's not about the brown shoes clashing with the black outfit.  A fretful monologue begins in my mind as I find myself posing for the shot. I’m trapped in this stinking costume for the next two hours.  The pre-formed mask reeks of glue and paint.  I feel it’s canvas scratchiness grating my nose and I’m praying that I don’t have to go to the bathroom anytime soon.  My breath is beginning to condense on the inside of the mask because there is no mouth hole.  What fun can I have because even my friends won’t be able to recognize me?  Who’s going to give me candy?  No one.  I’m too terrifying.  Sheer panic grips me as I realize that in my blackness, I’m going to be the perfect target for older kids to hit me with eggs and flour-filled socks.  Mommy, I’m scared!  Please don’t send me out there!!!

Mark Rotenberg
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If you've ever put on a dyed plastic body suit over your clothing you know it's not the most comfortable way to go for a walk. That's why it's impossible to forget the many times I dressed in one of those awful plastic costumes for Halloween. One year, my mother bought me a Luke Skywalker suit and a plastic mask so I could go trick or treating. I recall the sweat forming around my cheeks and under my nose. Other kids had better costumes made of actual fabric but I was just happy to collect a bucket worth of free candy. I love Halloween more than any other holiday and at times I wish I could still go trick or treating. On Halloween one could be wicked, heroic, an alien, a princess or whatever your imagination could conjure up. When I look at this photo I am immediately taken back to that happy time when I could hardly breath under my plastic Luke Skywalker mask.

Albert Tanquero
For more on Albert Tanquero, click here. 
While Halloween is all about the costume, often the scariest element is the jack o’lantern which sits on a porch or glows through the darkened window of a house.  I love the simplicity of this scene and how the light of the candle in the pumpkin softly illuminates the girl’s face.  Plus snapshots taken at night are extremely rare, which is another reason for this photo’s appeal.  Now if she only could have had a mask on herself.......

Robert E. Jackson
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Halloween isn't so important in Turkey; the Ramazan holiday is the time when children go from door to door asking for candy. Dressing up is popular of course and like all the best dress up photos, here you might think you know what's going on but you could be very wrong.

My blog, One Man's Treasure, is where I post photographs from my collection. 

John Toohey
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Funny how a mask changes everything, and makes the scene way more sinister.  For me, it is because we can’t see their eyes.  I love how they arranged themselves in this photo.  Five girls, their names on the verso, three with their surname.  Sisters? Cousins?  Someone stands at the window watching the proceedings.

Janet West
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When I was a child, Halloween was fun, never scary. We dressed up as princesses, gypsies, pirates, witches, clowns, or ballerinas and our parents would take us to visit the neighbors on our dirt road -- Mrs. Ward, the Andersons, the Wolffs, Granny Kelly, and the Bennetts. All the kids would admire each other's costumes, and we would be given candy, drink apple cider, and sometimes even bob for apples. Horror didn't enter into the occasion at all. It looks as if this boy and his dog had the same sweet kind of Halloween in their neighborhood: all treat, no tricks.  No doubt his mom made his costume (and the dog's) -- as our mom always made ours -- and lent him an old parasol. Mothers don't get enough credit.

Pat Street
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There is a lot more to this small Halloween snapshot than first meets the eye. It captures a group of children before they don their homemade masks and transform into the ghoulish and slightly disturbing characters that are to be found in the photographs of Ralph Eugene Meatyard and Diane Arbus. 
They have been distracted by something off camera and all bar one look away from the photographer – towards what we will never know! One side of the image is dark and contrasts with a ghostly flare of light hovering over the photographer’s shadow. 

I don’t know exactly where this photograph was taken as the only information on the reverse is a penciled month and year – October 1946. To my eyes, the children look very American in their dungarees, striped tops and t-shirts which differ markedly from the clothing worn by their European equivalents at the time.

Orla Fitzpatrick
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Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, if its a real holiday, and my wife Linda enjoys the season too.  We have a big collection of vintage Halloween items and decorate the house most of the month of September. We have dozens of snapshots of kids and adults in costume and at parties.  This was tough decision indeed!  I chose this one as it could be any or all of us, but you will have to guess which is me!  I'm not telling!!!!

Glenn Vogel

You can find Glenn set up at various shows on the east coast.

While I own hundreds of them now, it's one of the first Pocket Kodak images I ever bought.  I love the weird shadow, that it's crooked, and that the mask is shaded, making it even creepier. It's seemingly an old man mask, complete with glasses and whiskers, yet here we have the little boy in his sailor suit.  I like photos with some kind of juxtaposition.

Erin Waters
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I love this circa late 1950's Halloween still life photo because it envokes the spirit without any kids wearing scary masks. It's a lovely composition, and the nose of the pumpkin transforms the image from sublime to silly. Wouldn't you want to go trick -or- treating at this house?

Sabine Ocker