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Five Ways to Improve Your Disney Photography

Perhaps one of the few upsides of the new restrictions in place at Walt Disney World will be the enforcement of reduced capacity in the theme parks. Hopefully, this will lead to shorter queue lines, smaller crowds, and less chaos in general. I wanted to continue the theme from last Wednesday by looking at ways to revamp our Disney routines to make the most of this window into a simpler time at Disney parks.

When you look back at your photos from previous Disney vacations, do you ever wonder why the magic you felt doesn’t feel represented in the pictures you bring home? Why do the colors feel darker and the moment’s left looking like it misses that sparkle you felt when you were there?

At a time when Disney’s Memory Maker or PhotoPass might not feel worth the investment, let’s look at five ways you can improve your own Disney photography.

Turn Off Your Flash

Gone are the days of your manual focus film camera, when using the flash for a little extra light made all the difference. These days, your camera or phone will take much higher quality photos and their flash functions are very rarely your friend.

If using your phone, try adjusting the settings to lighten the frame before you take the photo. Be sure to use the focus function (usually tap on the screen) to concentrate on the subject you are trying to capture. If you can’t get it quite right, try working on the shot in post-production. There are many great apps out there to help you rescue your picture, but rarely can they save the overexposed shot with light bouncing off the nearby glass, and the washed-out faces of your loved ones from using the flash willy-nilly.

If you do decide to use your flash, only do so when your subject is directly in front of you. Anything through glass or at a distance won’t show up at all when using it, the only thing you will achieve is driving everyone else around you crazy.

Those of you using the flash inside darker attractions: go directly to the exit, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Get Down Low

When you are trying to get that perfect castle photo with family in the foreground and architecture in the background, it can be hard to keep the other 1,000 people trying to do the same thing out of your shot. Try getting down a bit lower and taking the photo from directly in front of your subjects at their eye level rather than down towards them.

If that isn’t enough to reduce the visibility of the crowd, try bending down further and angling up slightly from underneath. By changing the angle you are shooting from, you can create an upward line of sight from the faces of your family up toward the castle, limiting the visibility of the crowds behind them.

Be Aware of Light and Shadows

The sun can be your best friend to get that perfect shot, or your worst enemy. Obviously, you want to avoid a series of squinting face photos, so make sure you have your subjects at an appropriate angle in relation to the sun or any light source. Some light shade for both your lens and subjects will make for much more relaxed expressions.

When taking photos of buildings, attractions or anything other than portraits, try angling the sun behind part of the structure. If you get it lined up just right, you might be able to get that magical backlit shot you’ve always wanted. To get that glowing feel, make sure you focus on the building itself in the foreground so that you don’t end up with a dark blob wearing a halo.

Whenever possible, take advantage of the Golden Hour. This period is a short window just after sunrise or before sunset. During the Golden Hour, the light is much softer than other times during the day and has a beautiful tone that can help you capture those magic moments.

Capture the Details

When you get home and start creating the photo album you will show off to family and friends, you might begin to realize that many of your photos feel similar with the identical posed faces in every shot.

Mix it up with candid photos and lots of pictures that show off the details that make Disney such a gorgeous place to be. It might be a single flower or one of the Disney ducks; maybe the features in a queuing area or a menu you want to remember. Those finer points will not only be the things you want to recall in 20 years, but also what gives your photo book diversity. It’s all in the details.

Don’t Overdo Your Filters and Effects

Once you get into the nitty-gritty of photo editing, it can be tempting to go too far and end up destroying your photo. Be careful not to over sharpen your photo; always zoom in on the picture to check for any pixelation before sending it off to a printer.

Resist the urge to excessively up the saturation on your colors. Though the bright colors seem appealing, it rarely looks good and virtually never reflects the feeling you had when you were there. Stylizing one or two photos this way can work, but messing with the saturation on all of your shots will leave them feeling inauthentic.

With fewer people in the parks when you rebook your 2020 vacation, there will be no better time to improve your photography skills while the crowds are minimized.

Do you have a photography tip to help your fellow DISers capture those memories in the parks? Share it below.

Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.

Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.


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