Photo Tips #2

by Frank Anzalone, staff writer

Sharing vacation photos with friends and family is more than looking at pictures; they are the sharing of special memories. In this session, my photo tips focus on showing the people who experienced the vacation, and share with you some of my ideas for taking photographs when visiting the Disney parks and resorts with your family and friends. Take a look at your vacation photos. Do they focus more on where you were than who was there? The one common theme throughout all these photo tips is toget in close to your subject… show those facial expressions.

The first installment of photo tips took a look at some basic vacation picture ideas where we walked through the ticket turnstiles and headed into the Happiest Place on Earth. This edition of photo tips concentrates more on the people at the park.

Although I receive comments about my photos, one important thing you need to know is that it's all in the eye of the photographer. For that reason, all of the photos you saw in my first photo tip series were shot completely with a Kodak disposable box camera. You do not need to use the most expensive camera on the market to get a good image. You can get a great picture if you take a moment to use a few simple and easy techniques. Remember, there is no such thing as a bad picture… some are just better.

My first (and biggest) photo tip is to take lots of pictures. Have you ever looked back at your vacation photographs and just wished there were more to look at? The price of film is worth every penny when you walk away with those great shots. Every special photo memory is priceless. And if you have a digital camera, there's really no excuse about wasting film anymore.

OK—Grab your camera and let's get clicking.

Photo Tip #1

Look for a slightly different location to take your photo. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

We all seem to always head to the Castle for the quintessential Disneyland family vacation picture, and in most cases, we are confronted with sharing the Disneyland icon with hundreds of other people trying to do the same thing at the same time (as you can see in the photo on the left). It is amazing how quiet the side walkways around the Castle are and how we can get a relaxed pose with the same background (there are great spots on the sides of the castle at the Magic Kingdom in Florida too.). Remember to get in close, maybe crouch down and shoot upwards to capture the family and the castle.

Photo Tip #2

Try a different location altogether. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

The “family portrait” does not only have to be in front of the castle. Here at the Main Street Train Station, you can place a large group of people together for a nice shot. If you have a larger group, consider using the staircase on the sides to stagger the group (close together and balance out the height differences between people using those stairs). This is another great spot that has that familiar Disney background, yet is not crowded at all to make taking the family picture easier to do.

Photo Tip #3

Try taking a picture of your subjects on an attraction car. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Sometimes you can use the attraction cars as a way to group together your family in a shot… take a ride on the attraction in the car just in front of your group, and when you step out and exit, get your camera ready, pause for a moment and see if you can get those expressions as they finish their ride.

Photo Tip #4

Look at the park through the eyes of your child. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Seeing Disneyland through the eyes of a child… is one of the most magical experiences, and if you have your camera ready, you might be able to save that unique memory for years to come. Get in close, don't let them look directly at you, for a less “posed” picture and you will get a more “casual/candid” moment.

Photo Tip #5

Get close to your subject to reduce clutter. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

There is so much to see at Disneyland and sometimes, it's too much at once. When you get in close to your subject, it helps us tell a clearer story with our picture—showing the facial expressions and enough of the selected surroundings (without cluttering the image) to still give us the feel of the location.

Photo Tip #6

Have your camera ready for a quick shot anytime. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

“You mean we are going to ride on THAT?” Have your camera out and in hand all the time—capture the motion of the speeding train and the expression of the future riders before it gets away.

Photo Tip #7

Take a shot while you are on an attraction. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Don't just take a picture when the attraction car is stopped, get on and take a ride too. The image on the left was taken just before the Thunder Mountain train left the loading dock. The image on the right was taken during the ride to capture the feel of the experience. I was sitting, facing forward and pointing the camera over my shoulder towards my subjects for this picture. Do not be frustrated if this does not come out the first time you try it—it takes practice to be able to point the camera without looking through the viewfinder.

Photo Tip #8

Take a series of shots where the next photo takes you in closer to the subject. Photos by Frank Anzalone

Get in close. The most common mistake is to not get close enough to see a good clear face of your subject because we are trying to capture the entire area/view that our eyes see. I wanted to capture the boy's effort of pulling the sword. Capture the moment with more than one picture, but not just two pictures in a row… take one picture then move closer and take another.

Photo Tip #9a

Taking your time when photographing characters. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Character pictures… one of our favorite things to do at the Parks. Remember, the characters are there for our interaction—so even after waiting in line, don't rush—take a few moments to enjoy. The typical picture is to stand back and shoot from the adult height vantage point. Move in to see those expressions of the kids (young and old.) in the picture.

Photo Tip #9b

You can even take pictures of very young ones at their eye level. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Photo Tip #9b: Character pictures with children… if you have very young ones, take the time to get in close, kneel down and shoot the picture at their level.

Photo Tip #10

Don't forget to get photos of yourself. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Make sure you get into some of your vacation pictures. If you see a cast member (or me!), ask and they will be happy to shoot a picture of you. Kristina had seen the first edition of “Frank's Photo Tips” just the day before their visit and then happen to run into me at the park… she asked, and here's the shot.

I want to give a special thanks to my long-time Disney friend Ed and his extended family for allowing me a two-hour fun-run at Disneyland. They were visiting Disneyland from Portland and gave me this opportunity to drag them through the park for these pictures… Thank you.

Next time

That completes our second edition of Frank's Photo Tips. The next edition's topic will concentrate on taking pictures of the Parks (visiting Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World) and their “familiar sights and attractions of Disney parks.”

I hope this inspires you take more and more pictures, and capture those special Disney memories and moments. So plan that trip to the Park, pick up your camera, take more pictures and see what develops. If you have any specific questions or ideas of what you would like to see regarding photo tips at while visiting Disney, please email me.

In future editions of this series, we explore various other aspects of taking good vacation pictures which will include images of the parks & characters, shooting special situations such as fireworks, night time events and inside attractions. These future editions will be more specific for capturing unique Disney images and memories that make great photo keepsakes.