Back in the day, your typical Hallowe'en party would attract a fairly predictable assortment of guests. There would be witches (practically mandatory attire for girls), ghosts (the classic bedsheet with holes-cut-through-for-eyes), vampires (plastic fangs apt to make the wearer dribble), skeletons (white elastic bones stitched to your old navy tracksuit). Sure, there may have been the odd bandage roll mummy or spider replete with eight nylon legs mixing things up a bit, but across the board outfits were of a decidedly spooky ilk.
These days the brew is getting a little more varied. Rock up to a Hallowe'en gathering and amid the spooky swarm you'll probably spy a smattering of princess and superhero outfits sported by children for whom every chance to dress up is a chance emulate their favourite fantasy figure from the halls of Disney or Marvel. But such breaks with convention are nothing in comparison to the ambitious and eye-catching array of attire modelled by trick-or-treaters across the pond, as the work of French-born photographer Marie Préaud bears testament.
Marie moved to the Portland, Maine, several years ago, to pursue her photography career. Long fascinated with the dressing-up extravaganza that is the American-Hallowe'en, she decided to open her studio on Hallowe'en night, snapping the stream of trick-or-treaters who came to call. A shiny green grasshopper, a whiskery pair of mice, an axe-toting Viking and a kid with an upturned colander of spaghetti on his head all feature in this weird and whacky line-up. Hallowe'en, is a time when children's imaginations are free to run riot. And according to Marie, the magical possibilities it presents should not be underestimated.
"By deliberately choosing a character and wearing a costume, children are embarking on a creative adventure," says Marie. "In our society, children are under constant pressure to be the person their parents, their school or their television wants them to be. On Hallowe'en they are finally given the opportunity to be what only they can imagine. As I captured each child’s image, I was fascinated by the way each of them took such great pride in wearing their costumes and acting out their character’s role."
Marie's book Hallowe'en: Portraits Of Fear And Fantasy (Edition Panorama Gmbh, £15.90) brings together 65 images of these images. Take a look at some of our favourites...