Disneyland calls itself the happiest place on earth (and it is a really great place!), but it can be an overwhelming place full of so much to look at with every turn which can make photographing your visit there a challenge. Here are few Disneyland Photography tips to help you get creative photographs on your next trip to the park.
- No.01Step back
By step back, I mean make sure to get those photos that show the scenery of Disney, like the castle or a favorite ride. A wide angle lens can be great for these photos but even just stepping back with an iPhone will allow you to get the big picture. During my first few visits to Disneyland I would try to avoid getting the crowds of people in my photos but now I include those crowds sometimes just to show how busy it can be. Often if you are willing to wait for a few minutes then it will pay off in the photos.
For the first image below, we were standing on Tom Sawyer island & when I saw the Mark Twain coming around the corner I took a few shots of the boat as it came towards us then chose my favorite composition after seeing them on the computer.
There are lots of moving parts at Disney, like on Main Street, there are trolleys and horses and cars. If you can wait as they move towards you or away from you and watch the composition it will pay off with a stronger image.
As you are taking in the big scenes at Disneyland, don’t forget to look up. For this second image, I was standing underneath the ride looking up and I moved just slightly to get the ride to block the sun so I could create the photo I wanted.
- No.02Get close
When you are standing there in the crowds of people looking at all these attractions it can be easy to overlook the details but if you photograph these you will be glad when you get home. They can really help tell the story and bring you back to being there.
It is crazy the level of detail that has gone into Disney when you really start to look for the details. There are Mickey shaped railing designs, a variety of paved paths, colors everywhere, and lots of really great design elements. Remember to get the images of the Mickey ears, the balloons, the souvenirs, and the little things that you will want to look back on when you get home.
- No.03Don't forget the food
Disneyland has some amazing food items that are special to the place, like the Mickey shaped beignets and Mickey shaped pretzels. They also have some fantastic decorating happening on things like cupcakes and cookies that change with the seasons.
Depending on the time of year you go, you may want to research what’s new for the season that year so you can make sure to stop for some treats & photograph them before your family digs in. I will admit that I have even had my family move to a spot to eat the treats just because the light is better for a photograph too!
In the ice cream image below I made sure we had a window seat so I knew I had plenty of light. I also grabbed the Disneyland newspaper to use as a prop just to add to the story. It isn’t something I spend a lot of time on but I have found that it pays off with better images to watch for the light. Since these treats are details that don’t last I appreciate getting them photographed.
- No.04Find the light
Just like anywhere, finding the light can make the difference for your photographs at Disney. This can be a challenge since it is mostly sunny here in Southern California and you might end up fighting against that bright mid-day sun.
But, Disneyland has lots of tall buildings and spots that provide the perfect place for photo opportunities along with nice light. You can also take advantage of the trees and attractions to filter the light, create sun flare, and use the shadows the light has created.
If you take photos while waiting in lines and on rides you will have to pay close attention to your camera settings if you are shooting on manual. I find that I can end up changing my ISO over & over again as we move through different areas of the park from inside to out, shade to sun and everything in between.
- No.05Look for out of the way places
There are some less popular places like Tom Saywer island that can provide good photo opportunities (lots of paths & buildings & trees). So while everyone is getting the main photo in front of the castle don’t overlook the walkway that is along the side of the castle near the wishing well. There are even some cute dwarfs over there along with nice landscaping.
While most of the main walkway areas get super crowded be sure to look just a little beyond them for places where there still tends to be nice landscaping, benches, and a variety of backdrops. This photo below is against a wall near a bathroom and I really only noticed it when I saw my son leaning there waiting for me.
- No.06Shoot the activities of your trip
There is already a lot built into a trip to Disneyland just with going for the rides, parades, and fireworks. But if you have done all of those and this trip you are looking for extra activities like looking for hidden Mickeys or collecting the pressed pennies from the penny machines, be sure to photograph those too. These can make a fun photo project for the kids too.
Hand them a camera & have them photograph the hidden Mickeys as you find them or photograph all the trading pins as they gather them throughout the trip. These activities can add to the day when you need a change from standing in line or fighting the crowd. Photographing them can add to the story to fill your photo book when you return home.