We just got back from our first family trip to Disneyland Paris, and we loved it. We did Disney World in Florida before we had our little one, but nothing beats seeing the magic of Disney through the eyes of a child. As amazing as Disneyland is, it can sometimes be tricky to get the best images, as there are so many people trying to get the same photo as you. There are plenty of photo opportunities though, so make sure you pack your camera!
Avoid the Popular Spots
As you walk up main street towards the castle, there will be hundreds of people trying to get the perfect castle shot, meaning that they all have hundreds of people in their photos.
A good photograph is knowing where to standAnsel Adams
If you don’t want crowds in your photos, sometimes you have to search around for the best spot.
What kit should you take?
Disney is an endurance trip, you know you’ll be out all day with a pack full of snacks, spare clothes for the little ones etc. You definitely need to pack light with your gear and be selective about want you bring. It’s your vacation too, you don’t want to hurt your back on the first day because your kit was too heavy.
You’ll need your camera, of course. If you’re lucky enough to have a smaller mirrorless model, take that to reduce bulk. Lens wise, again you want something small and light. Wide angle is better because you can get shots showing the background, even if you’re close. If you take a few lenses, just take one to the park and keep the others in the hotel safe, you can switch them out each day to get a variety of images.
I took my 50mm 1.8 as it’s super light and small and great for getting bokeh in the background.
I also took my Sigma Art 35mm. This lens is a lot heavier and bigger than my 50mm, but the focus length is much better for getting images in tight spaces.
Ideally, I would have chosen an even wider lens, like a 24mm. If you don’t have a suitable lens, you can rent one that’s perfect for your trip.
Focus on Capturing Memories
There are so many amazing things to photograph at Disney. The characters, the parades and of course the castle. But there’s one other thing you need to capture too. The reactions of your children to the magic. Don’t be afraid to turn around and get a photo of them enjoying the action.
Create Collages to Tell Your Story
Use a mix of images to tell the story of your trip. Include scenery shots and shots of your children. Mix it up with close up and wide angle images to get varierty
Take a small bag for your kit
One of the things I was worried about before Disney was having to leave my kit unattended whilst we went on rides. The rides are our favourite part and I didn’t want to miss out. At some theme parks like Alton Towers here in the UK you’re often asked to leave your bags when you ride, but in Disneyland Paris, small bags were allowed on all of the rides we went on. I can’t comment on the big rides as we only went on ones my 5 year old is tall enough for. If you take a small bag just for your kit, you can keep it with you even if you have to leave your bigger bag. Plus, if your kit is separate you don’t have to worry about spilling drinks on it. I put my camera and lens in my regular handbag, and I used the removable padding from my camera bags to protect it. You can purchase inserts for camera bags on Amazon for different size bags.
If your camera bag inserts are not waterproof, make sure you have a waterproof cover for your bag in case it rains, or for water rides.
If you will be going on big, thrill rides where you know you cannot take your bag, there are always lockers available. Check your insurance before you go to ensure that you would be covered if anything were to happen.
Zoom in to Get Rid of Distractions
Try getting in close or changing your angle to avoid distractions. Pointing your camera up can help you avoid the crowds below.
Standing Still is Not Allowed
You plan your trip months in advance, give the kids the big news. Everyone is so excited. You run into the park, everyone is excited to go on their favourite ride, or see their favourite character. And then you ask if they will stand still so you can get a photo. Mama, this will not go down well. Those few seconds standing still for a photo will feel like years for a little child whose desperate to enjoy the park. At best you’ll get a cheese camera smile, but it won’t show off their excitement.
Instead, work with their excitement. Talk to them about what they want to do, who they are excited to see. Get them to move a little, whether it’s twirling or jumping up and down on the spot. Keep taking photos when they are doing this. You may miss some shots but the keeps will have some much more energy.
Take Lots of Memory Cards
Take lots of memory cards, sure, you’ll fill them up, but also as insurance just in case anything were to happen to your kit.
As we were only there for a few days, I changed out my memory cards each day and kept the others in the safe. That way, if anything did happen, I still had the images from other days stored safely. If you are taking a laptop you could always back your images after each day as well.
This is probably me being extra caution, but since photos are irreplaceable, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Use Photoshop to Combine Images
Disney illuminations are not be missed, and everyone is trying to get a great image. The trouble is, the low light and crowds do not make it easy to get the shot you want.
Sometimes a little post processing comes in handy here. In this image, I photographed the castle first, before the show started, When the fireworks started, there were too many people in front of me to get a clean shot of the castle, so I combined the fireworks into the castle shot I took earlier (can you see it’s the same firework on both sides of the castle, I just flipped it!). Cheating? Maybe. I’m happy with it though as both images were taken on the same evening in the same place.
Sprinkle a little Disney magic
If you can’t go a little OTT at Disney, where can you?
Give your photos a little extra magic with a bokeh overlay in Photoshop. I also added some colours to the sky here too. If you’d like as tutorial on how I did this, let me know and I will create one.
Don’t Forget to Enjoy Yourself
Someone asked me if I took hundreds of photos during our trip, but you know what? I really didn’t. I took a few, but most of the time my camera was in my pack and I took the time to enjoy myself. You don’t want to see your holiday through a viewfinder, and your family want to spend time with you. Make sure you take time to be in the moment and not worrying about lighting and composition. Your family will thank you for it and they will be much more open to photos when you do take some.
If you are heading to Disney soon (I’m well jell, btw!) I’d love to see your pictures. Share them to Instagram using our hashtag #mamacameraclub, or in our Facebook group.