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By Meredith Russo Boo! Halloween is approaching, and we all know what that means? drowning under fun-size candy wrappers, as yet another year goes by without a single trick-or-treater; watching Hocus Pocus through chocolate-glazed eyes only to wonder how Max ever made your nauseated pre-teen heart flutter. Woah! Sorry, that was for my other column ? I mean journal. Diary. What? Never mind. As for most of you, however, Halloween means one thing and one thing only: photo ops. And as artful, skimpy, or artfully skimpy as your costume may be, there is no escaping the camera on Halloween. How to?take a frighteningly good Halloween photo. 1) Before we begin, let's address a few of the "tricks" to taking flattering pictures. 2) Drop them immediately. They're a crutch. Plus if everybody knows them, which they do, chances are they know you know. So once they know you know they know? let's just say everybody loses a little respect for that girl poppin' an elbow in an empty room. 3) Who's that looking in the mirror over there? Oh no. Don't even think of pulling out that hairbrush. Okay, leave. Just leave. 4) I'm sorry you had to see that, but the nature of the Halloween photo op leaves no room for primping; its very success lies in its feeling unrehearsed. 5) Let's check our stances, shall we? 6) You there, Tinkerbelle. Put your heel on the ground! On. The. Ground. That's right, now keep it there. Legs straight. You're a fairy, not a pin-up girl during WWII. Also, that's a children's costume. I'd say shame on you, but it looks like that wedgie is punishment enough. 7) And you, Catwoman, if you have to pee, for the love of god just go to the bathroom. I know the unitard is an unforeseen obstacle, but don't subject yourself to an extended photo shoot if you'll need to do the toddler squat. 8) By the way, if that was an attempt to look hotter or more fun, I've yet to see that successfully pulled off with the squat. Many have tried, and many have fallen. Literally, fallen. You're smart to wear flats, at least. 9) Okay, all of you ? arms at your sides. Unless you've been holding something heavy all night and are now propping it on your hip in pained resignation. Because in that case, I feel you. In fact, Lil' Bo Peep ? here, let me hold your lamb for a while. 10) As for the rest of you ? sure, your arms may look a little pudge down at your side, but you know what? People will respect you for it. 11) Remember to breathe. Relax. This isn't one of those times when if you want it badly enough, you'll get it. It's just a photograph. And desperate intensity, or intense desperation ? intensperation ? just doesn't photograph well. Unless you're that guy in the Romney costume. Looking good! 12) Okay, let's give our first photo a shot. One, two, three?. 13) Hey, whose head is this? And why'd you suddenly feel the need to grind it against mine? 14) Stop it. Why are you doing that? There's no hair on our foreheads. There's friction. It's skin on skin, and you're sweaty and it's sticking and pulling and I feel like our faces are going to be stuck together now and ? 15) Oh! There's the flash. Great. Just as we were pulling away from the face-sticking-fiasco, which I can only hope was captured by what sounded like an extremely impressive shutter speed. 16) Up, there's another! Great, grand, if this isn't just fu ? 17) Fuck! I was in the middle of saying fu ? 18) AGAIN? If there's a word that is the opposite of "cheese" in terms of maximizing facial attractiveness, that word would have to be fu ? 19) Seriously? Enough. We get it. You have a nice camera. 20) Can we try one more? No, I really don't care that much. I'm just supposed to be helping you guys, so I don't want be in the middle of saying fuck in every fuc ? 21) Hey! That was definitely on purpose. 22) Here we go. One, two, three... 23) Did someone just growl? Is that a thing now? You may be defining your cheekbones, but you're also? growling. 24) Oh, sorry! Didn't see you back there in the werewolf costume. Carry on! 25) Alright, you guys seem to have a handle on this. If anybody needs me, I'll be playing in that pile of leaf-like candy wrappers ? no photos, please.

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