Disney World Photography Tips
Are you planning a Disney Vacation and wanting to return home with some amazing photos to remember your trip?
Of course you do, but hoping for great Disney family photos and actually coming home with some great photo gems requires some careful planning!
Keep in mind Disney World does have a Disney Photopass add-on option that you can purchase, but that will add another $169-$200 to the cost of your trip. Not only does that add to an additional cost to an already expensive vacation, but you may miss out on some of the more interesting photo opportunities and awesome candid shots.
Tip 1. What Camera Lens Should I Bring to Disney?
You will want to use your widest or most versatile lens, I chose my 35mm Sigma Art lens for the job, mainly because it’s wide - without being too wide, and also focuses like a beast. I rarely get an out of focus image with this lens. It’s also small, lightweight and can easily be worn all day and tucked under my arm for protection.
Tip 2. How Should You and Your Family Dress for Disney?
What to wear? This may be something you haven’t thought of, but what you and your family are wearing in a photo can make it or break it. Disney definitely requires comfort and can’t be planed like a normal shoot, unfortunately. But you can certainly think ahead and try to make sure everyone looks cute and comfortable in your photos.
Just like with a standard shoot, well-fitting clothes are always better and layering your look can also be flattering. Your hair and makeup can be nicely done and clean shoes as well.
Fun Disney shirts are still a hit, I bought ours online before the trip so they could be washed and sure to fit well for the trip. Avoid old dirty athletic shoes, tying bulky sweaters around your waist, and neon colors.
Tip 3. Carry Your Camera at Disney
Everyone wants to know what I do with my camera all day… the answer is simple; I wear it! ALL DAY LONG!! It never comes off my body unless I’m handing it to the hubby to get a shot with me included.
I wear it on rides, walking, eating lunch, and yes even in the bathroom. I have been on every single ride in the park with my camera, it is doable and nothing ever even remotely came close to harming it.
This brings me to my next point, you will need a comfortable strap, I like a wide cloth type that reminds me of a scarf. It won't rub or get sticky like leather or synthetic fabrics can, and it fans out to distribute weight across my shoulders. I wear it relatively short, meaning the camera lays directly at my elbow level so my arm is always protecting and keeping it from flopping around.
I don’t recommend carrying it in a backpack because you are constantly on and off the rides and can’t lean back on a bag with a camera in it, and I hope you like pictures of the inside of your camera bag because if you aren’t carrying the camera, you won't use it.
Tip 4. Not Every Disney Photo Will be Amazing
Don’t expect every shot to be award-winning! I took 537 photos on our last two-day trip and will post about a dozen of them. Don’t expect greatness from every shot. Sometimes it’s just a memory or a moment that is special to you, and that is just fine. Find your dozen photo gems in the bunch and be happy with those.
Tip 5. Don't Spend All Day at Disney Giving Directions
Stop making your kids look at you; I can’t find a better way to say it. Leave them be, let them wonder, let them stare off into space, make silly faces, and laugh. Then, take a picture quietly. Your kid is tired of being told to look and smile, quit trying to change the kid, and change your own approach instead.
I promise you will love the shots where they aren’t looking at you!
Tip 6. Be Creative with Your Disney Photos
Take photos of unexpected things, I know you probably have “the shot” in mind, but be open to other opportunities. This year I took photos inside of the rides which is something I have never tried. I took a bunch in Small World, Pirates, and the Buzz Lightyear ride, they ended up coming out kind of cool and I am surprised how much the kids love looking back at them.
You will definitely need to have a clear understanding of manual mode to pull off these darker indoor shots, but if I can do it then so can you! Just remember to reset your setting back to “outside” setting after getting off the dark rides so you will be ready for your next shot.
Tip 7. How to Take Photos Amidst the Disney Crowds
I know some of my shots look like we had the park to ourselves, but let me assure you it was busy as all get out. You must have patience and find little pockets of space. If you wait for the perfect spot to reveal itself you will be waiting all day.
Calm your mind, and find your spots. Do it in a happy way that makes the kids want to cooperate instead of run in the other direction. Keep it short and move on to the next ride!
Just like a regular session, morning and evening are best for shooting, so keep the harsher daylight hours to a minimum and plan the more essential shots during the golden hour or right after arriving in the morning.
Bonus Tip: Editing Your Disney Photos
Last but not least, the editing is a huge part of bringing the Disney Magic to life! I'm sure you will be exhausted from your trip, so give yourself a few days to recoup and relax before even looking through the photos. Then, after just a few days they will remind you of the great time you had and will have a different feel to them than the day you came home.
Flag your favorites on the very first pass looking at them, your first instinct will usually always be correct. I like to do my initial editing in Lightroom and then if necessary pop them over to Photoshop to add details like sky replace overlays, bokeh overlays, or sun flare.
Disney is such a fun and magical family vacation that you'll definitely want to document as much of it as possible. Give yourself some freedom to play and enjoy all the fun moments you can with your family - your kids will want you to be part of the action as well. If you miss a moment, it isn't the end of the world - there will be many more moments to capture. Hopefully, these tips make the process more fun and worthwhile for everyone!
If you want some other great tips, here's another great article about Disney World Photography.
Do you have any questions or comments about my Disney Photography Tips or any tips of your own that you would like to share with us? Leave us a comment below - we would love to hear from you! And please share our tutorial using the social sharing buttons - we really appreciate it!