Walt Disney World is perhaps one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever traveled to. For many guests that seems like a very odd statement and in many ways it is. When you arrive at a theme park, you expect to be entertained, but not quite in the way that Disney does it. Walt Disney World is shockingly picturesque in a way that portrays an excellent attention to detail and leaves guests wanting and hoping for that ultimate Walt Disney World photo. There’s certainly no science to capturing a great picture. From using your iPhone, to capturing photos with any tier DSLR, everyone can capture some great vacation photos that exceed expectations. Honestly, I’m very new in the realm of photography, but there’s a few ways to get an edge on your vacation photos that will set them apart from what you may have expected to capture and surprise yourself in a magnificent way. To be quite honest, I had no idea what I was doing 6 or so months ago when I picked up a Nikon DSLR and decided to up my photo quality on our next Disney trip. (Photos in this article are best viewed on desktop/laptop devices).
For lack of a better term, I was a lost ball in high weeds. However, there’s something amazing about this Disney community and the role of Disney fans helping other Disney enthusiasts. All it took was a quick Google search and a glance through a few websites to uncover a wealth of Disney photography information. Notice how I said “Disney Photography information” because that makes a huge difference. Disney is a unique breed of photography that is vast and very situational. Of course, I’m quite the amateur in this realm, but even I was able to capture a few unique shots during our four day trip. Truth be told, I learned more from the Disney community and those willing individuals experienced in the field that I would have ever learned on my own in many years of trial and error.
Personally, the avenue that helped me more that anything else starting out was learning from Luis (Disney_Nuts on Instagram) through his new photography videos on Youtube. If you’re a Disney fan, be sure to subscribe to his channel and follow his pages. His content is truly incredible and his photo tips are second to none in the realm of Disney.
However, as we move on to today’s topic, there’s a few things about Disney photography that you don’t necessarily expect going in. Again, I’m by no means an expert but these are simply a few things that caught me off guard.
1. For Best Results Consider a Tripod
I know this is a tip that many guests will have no desire to follow through with and I didn’t expect to either. The kicker to the whole tripod situation is that in order to get great photos at night a tripod is almost a necessity if you want to be truly “free” in your location selection. If you’re on a budget, Trashcan tops and short polls are a great tripod stand-in option to keep the camera as still as possible for moments on end in order to let the camera capture light for sometimes up to 30+ seconds. For me, it was easier to catch a tripod on a Black Friday sale that to search for spots to rest the camera.
On the contrary, if you’re taking phots during the day you’ll rarely need a tripod because your shutter speed will be much faster (here’s where it gets a bit confusing and number 6 on our list really comes into play). When it comes right down to it, it’s all about what you want to capture. For many, an iPhone will be an excellent starting place for family photos and in that case I’d skip the tripod and just enjoy the simplicity of the device because they truly do take excellent photos. If you want to get a little bit more involved with your photos and a bit more creative I’d recommend an entry level DSLR like the Nikon D3400 or mid range Canon options. The Sony a6000 is a great option as well in a smaller/lighter package, but personally I chose the Nikon for the lens options available (also true for the Canon). Whatever you choose to go with, getting creative will make the biggest difference in the end!
2. A Kit Lense Will Definitely Get You Started
Every single photo I took on this trip and that I will share in the coming months here on the site and on our Instagram account were taken with a stock kit lens that came with the Nikon camera. If you’re on a budget, like me, it will definitely get you started. You’d be surprised what you can get out of the standard lens getting started and you may surprise yourself along the way. It’s a great way to learn and while it wont be tack sharp out of the camera, most social sites will downgrade image quality a bit anyway so in the end it’s not the end of the world. As you get better, and as I plan to myself, you can upgrade to something a bit nicer to truly get the most out of your camera. Again, I’m by no means an expert, this is just what I’ve found and learned along the way from those much more experienced that me.
3. Do What Looks Good To You
It’s easy to get caught up in “replicating” your favorite Disney photo or creating that perfect screensaver for your computer, or iPhone, but try to create something you’ve never seen before. Find a way to capture that memory of your dream vacation or a moment that truly takes your breath away to share or store away to take you back to that moment in the future. You may be surprised at how many people might share that same affinity for a similar location or a moment in time they also enjoyed over the years.
Create what you want to save and share. Take a photo of what looks good to you and has a certain level of importance to you. If it’s a family moment, capture that memory. If it’s a beautiful scene, try to capture the setting. More that anything, take the time to first enjoy the moment as it happens and to be aware of what’s going on beyond the lens. It’s a delicate balance, or at least it was for me and to be quite honest one I didn’t get completely perfect and doubt I ever will.
4. Consider an Editing Program
At the end of the day, you’re not going to get everything quite right in every photo. That’s where an editing program comes in and the vast advantage of shooting in the RAW format available on most DSLR and Mirrorless cameras. While intimidating at first, a program like Adobe Lightroom or even Snapseed (a simpler option available for android and IOS recommended in Luis’ videos) can vastly improve your photos. Lightroom is a bit pricey, but a great application in it’s desktop iteration. For the photos in this post I used a combination of both programs. There’s no best way to edit, but do what looks good to you and enjoy the process and you’ll be pleased with the results.
5. Watch Some Youtube Videos or Get a Book
Everyone learns a little differently. Personally, I’m incredibly visual. I love to see things done so that I know what to expect and see what the results should potentially look like. Circling back to Youtube, that’s why I highly recommend Luis’ videos. Not only does he share why you should use certain modes for certain applications, but goes one step further and shows you a step by step process of how to apply the tips in Walt Disney World. For some of the best examples, I recommend starting with the videos below.
Another option for those of you who may learn better by reading is a book called Understanding Exposure (honestly this is an affiliate link, but also a book I used to learn). I bought it per the recommendation of the Disney Tourist Blog and I have to say it’s an excellently written book.
No matter what your preference may be, learning before you arrive at the parks is a huge part of capturing a few great photos, but something to consider is that it should all be for the fun of doing it. You’re going to take some terrible photos from time to time. Some of the photos I’ve deleted over the last few days were truly atrocious, but it’s all part of the process. Delete the bad photos and move on to the next spot or try to capture that same photo another time. On our trip I took around 1600 photos in 3 and a half days. Obviously that’s a bit overkill (I just wanted have plenty to share here on the site), but of those 1600 I probably had around 300-500 good “keeper” photos to dive in and edit. Don’t get discouraged early on, it will come to you faster that you may expect. If I can get a few decent images out of camera, I know you can too, especially with the right help and a little dedication and inspiration.
As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you’re there, and we’ll keep the conversation going in the future. We’re not the largest Disney community, but we’re one that’s there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!
Ready to Plan?
Need help planning your vacation? Let our friends over at Destinations to Travel (FREE – no obligation quote request form below) help you out at no additional cost to you! Their services are free and a great way for you to help out the site at no extra cost to you! Here’s a closer look at why I recommend an Authorized Disney Travel Planner!
Last but certainly not least, if you’re starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You’ll probably even save money along the way.