this was my halloween.

this was my halloween.

I knew, as a child, that eventually there would be a Halloween when I stopped getting the desire to go trick-or-treating. During past Halloweens, I’ve carried orange pumpkin buckets, pink princess-themed candy pails, and pillowcases, always filling them to the brim with candy that I increasingly did not desire to eat as I grew older. I’ve dressed up as a witch, a lady-bug, and a bumblebee. For the past few Halloweens I’ve dressed up in the traditional dresses of the countries I’ve visited — a Korean hanbok, a Japanese yukata, a Vietnamese áo dài. 



This year, I donned my yukata again, wanting to dress up in a costume like all of the little kids who were going out to trick-or-treat for the night.

Yet this year, I didn’t even think about where my Halloween candy pails were. I had stopped eating candy long ago, so I no longer felt the need to go around the neighborhood collecting sweets that I would only throw away afterwards. The usual excitement of gathering a group of friends to spend a night pretending not to be scared of the decorations on the “crazy street” was absent this year.

It was a Tuesday, and there would be school the next day.

It didn’t make sense to stay up late

and continue a childhood tradition…

I guess. 🍭


But I didn’t want to just stay home.


I wanted to go out — not as a child eager to collect candy, but as someone with a different goal for the night. Much has changed since October 31st, 2016, and now, a year after that, I have a new tool to help me see the world in a different light:

my camera. 📷


No flashlight, no pails, no stream of friends running from house to house, me running along with them — this year’s Halloween will be different.


With the intention of capturing what an American Halloween looks like,

I set off with my yuakata, tripod, and Sony a6000 camera

and headed off



night. 🌙








manual mode, slow shutter speeds,

and blurry faces






ghosts flying in the air,

bats nailed onto wooden poles

and corpses shaking their heads


awash under orange and purple lights

that would seem tacky

in every other situation

but this one.





hidden skulls

stray heads and legs

streaming lights

 and glow sticks and bracelets

on costumes







am I supposed to be scared?

or delighted

at the blending of gorgeous rainbow lights?

the way two girl’s devil-horn headbands

seem to float in the darkness,



at the carefully arranged decorations,

designed to invite, entertain, and frighten?





Last year, I spent about three hours trick-or-treating with my friends.


This year, I spent an hour

getting out of my comfort zone

and doing what I love:

capturing the moments happening around me

in my life

that I would have otherwise missed

without the close inspection

of my camera lens.


How times have changed,

and neither for the better or for the worst.


It’s just the way it is

when traditions fade away to new ones

as you grow up

and find yourself changing.

Perhaps this year’s Halloween is the mark of a new tradition

where I start collection photographs

instead of candy

where I stand in the middle of the street,

amazed by lights strung up on trees

instead of hustling along

with everyone else

on the sidewalk.




and that

was my Halloween. 🎃



4 thoughts on “this was my halloween.”

  • Oh this is such a beautiful post, Zoie, I love it – your pictures are stunning! <3 It's funny, Halloween isn't that big of a thing here in France – people don't really dress up and make such a big deal out of this day, at least not as much as people across the Atlantic seem to. Decorations, celebration, it seems like SUCH a big deal here, it was so great to experience this through your pictures, even just for a little while 🙂 These costumes, all the lights and blurry faces… everything is filled with life. I love it. <3
    Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books recently posted…Am I that mysterious? – Q&A with the Mystery Blogger AwardMy Profile

    • I never knew that little tidbit about Halloween in France — thanks so much for sharing that with me! I love learning more about different cultures around the world. 🌎 I know Halloween is celebrated/acknowledged in other parts of the world, but I don’t think most places make it a full-on festivity as people do where I live in the U.S. 😂 Even schools make it a big deal here! Some teachers actually give out extra-credit for students who dress up in their Halloween costume for school, so it’s not just during nighttime when trick-or-treating is happening that I see people decked out in intricate costumes — it’s during the entire school day as well 😋

      I’m so glad you liked the pictures! Halloween night was the first time I tried nighttime street photography out, so I was fumbling with my camera throughout the night, but at least a few good pictures came out of the experience. 😊📷 Thanks for the comment, Marie! 😄

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