Family Magazine

So You Want to Take Great Pictures at Disney? 7 Beginner Tips for Photographing the Parks

By Sarahanneconnors @thenmousette
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A few years ago I went on vacation to the Dominican Republic with the boys. It was one of those trips that dreams are made of: Just the guys, beautiful beach, beautiful water, great food… a once in a lifetime experience. I took a million pictures while I was there and couldn’t wait to get home and get them up onto facebook. Now imagine this: there I sat at the computer, transferring all the photos onto my computer, and as I brought up the first image the blood immediately began to rush to my head. Blurry! Over Exposed!! TOO DARK!!!I think I might have had about 15 photos that could be saved. All hopes of reliving every experience with the guys gone.  (ok it wasn’t that dramatic but still).

So when we started planning our WDW Resort trip last fall I knew this time was going to be different, I would conquer my fear of bad trip photos (and I did) and then share with all of you wonderful Northern Mousette readers some tips on taking great photos for yourself.

So in the spirit of great pictures here are my top 7 begginer tips on taking great photos at disney:

#1: Get yourself some good gear:

Let me start by saying this. I know that you probably have been saving for a long time for your trip to the happiest place on earth. I also understand that not everyone’s last name is Gates or Zuckerberg. In saying that, getting yourself some great gear for your trip is very affordable and easy with a little company I recently found called Kingdom Camera Rentals*. I recently wrote a review on my experience with them. You can rent a great SLR and lens for a fraction of the price of buying and get yourself some fantastic photos of your trip. They will explain to you how to use the camera so you can maximize your picture taking abilities. You are paying thousands of dollars to travel to Disney so why not preserve your experience with some great photography gear.

*Kingdom camera did not pay me to write this ( I wish!) I absolutely swear to you. In fact I tried very hard to find something wrong with them so I could write an awful review. Check it out!

#2: Read the Disney Photography Blog:

Before we went to Disney I lost myself in the Disney Photography Blog. They offer many tips for beginners on photography 101 and advanced explanations on how to get great photos.  You can also view tons of images for inspiration on shots at the park. This resource proved invaluable to me as I really felt well researched walking into the parks with my camera. The article I particularly studied was the one on taking fireworks photos. Never taken one before? Go read the article you won’t regret it.

WDW Fireworks


#3 Get familiar with your settings:

If you are a beginner I recommend throwing your SLR into aperture priority mode. This will allow you to adjust how much light you want to come into your camera and it will automatically adjust the shutter to adjust to your aperture settings. Sounds too scary? Just play around with the different modes and play around. The important part is that you find a mode you are comfortable with and that will give you great looking pictures.

#4 Don’t be timid:

If there is a great shot waiting to happen just stick your camera in there and snap away. I found that other guests will generally move out of your way if you are confident and will often allow you to get your shot before walking in front of you. Keep your eyes open as you walk around as there are many great opportunities that pop up out of nowhere, so be ready to snap on instinct. Most cast members (especially those in character) will love to pose for your shots, and will often throw some of their own flare into your picture as well.

Fantasy Land Band

I was watching my son on the Carousel and heard a band. I quickly did a 180 and snapped instantly. Magical!

 #5 Find some unique ops:

I am not one for vanilla. Sure you should gather the family in a line for the obligatory castle shot (Does anyone even like posing in one of these photos?) but try to spice it up a bit. My favorite angle of the castle is from the narrow path that runs to fantasy land on the left side Be creative.

This is where research before hand can come in handy. Check out flickr for some shot ideas.

Perhaps think about shooting things that most would just walk by. One thing Disney does well is the little details. I find photographing the parks makes you acutely aware of the little details that you would otherwise miss.


Drinking fountain area at AK. Most would just walk by but with eyes open it sets up for a great shot.

#6 Always use the basic rules of photography:

I am going to let you in a little secret. This photography secret is so great that it will make even pictures on your crappy flip phone look good. That secret? Rule of Thirds. I am going to say it a few more times so it gets drilled into your head Rule of Thirds, Rule of Thirds, RULE OF THIRDS. Here is a better explanation of it than I could ever give you. So follow it! It is amazing how much it can ad to your photography. Of course rules are always meant to be broken but in the case of the beginner you would be wise not to.

Cinderella Fountain

Rule of thirds example. Also an example of a unique angle.

#7 Have fun!:

Don’t waist your time wondering if a picture is going to look good. Snap quick and Snap often! I usually go home with around a thousand images on my camera from any given Disney day. You can always delete the photos later. If it looks cool and it seems fun, snap it!  Disney is all about having fun and being a kid so make sure you do just that.

Be yourself and have fun! Don’t forget to put the camera down as well because real life is happening in front of you. You dont always want to be just documenting, but rather taking part.

Do you have any tips? I would love to hear!

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