7 Tips to take better Disney Character picturesAre you ready for some tried and true tips, tricks, and hints on how to photograph your Disney vacation? Because I have so much to tell you I'm dividing the info up into several parts. The first portion is all about...
How to get good pictures with the Disney Characters
I don't know about you but I am not a fan of lines, especially standing in a line to meet a character. I didn't really plan on waiting in lines to meet the characters this trip because didn't think Maddie and Lyndon really cared. However, seeing them light up with delight when they first spotted a beloved character I knew it worth the wait. Maddie even had to get an autograph book so it was even more important to meet them.
Besides getting their autographs it was important for me to be able to capture some good pictures as well. But that can be kind of tricky especially with how fast you have to be in and out along with trying to combat the different lighting situations you are presented with.
So here are 7 helpful tips to help you get the best character pictures possible:
1- Take pictures of the experience
I felt so rushed when it was finally our turn to meet the characters so instead of only taking the classic picture of my kids and the character all looking and smiling at the camera, I tried to take a few shots before they even met them to tell the story of the experience.
For example, I took this picture of Lyndon waiting to in line and admiring Pluto from afar. He told me the night before this picture that he couldn't wait to meet Pluto so he could pet him and scratch his belly. And guess who was the FIRST character we see? PLUTO!
The classic "I just met the character" picture...
2- Take your time
As mentioned previously, by the time we got to the front of the line I felt so rushed to just take the picture and be done. But as I took more and more pictures of other characters I realized I just need to slow down and take my time. In reality no one was rushing me except for me. The Disney cast member who was assisting really didn't care if I took a few extra moments to get the shot I wanted.
So with that said here is an example of when I should have taken my time. This shot I took of Pirate Goofy with Maddie was a little bit over exposed and the second one I didn't even wait for them to look at me. I took the picture while they were still looking at the Disney photographer. Not a big deal, just lessons learned.
3- Figure out your correct camera settings on the kid in front of you
It's important to give yourself a little time to get your camera settings correct before it's your turn with with the character. There's nothing more frustrating than trying and get the right settings under pressure.
So to give yourself enough time simply take a few test shots of the character with the kid who is in line before you. That way you have a few moments to get it right before it's your turn. It's true, people may wonder why the heck you are taking a picture of someone else's kid but who cares! At least YOU will have a properly exposed picture. :)
That's exactly what I did with each and every shot. In these pictures of the kids with the Green Army Guy from "The Toy Story", it was a good thing I took several shots before hand because the last settings on my camera were from when we were in a dark room...and now we were outside during the day. Obviously much different settings were needed!
4- Try out different camera angles
To give some variety in your pictures try and take a few shots from different angles. For example in the second picture with Lydon and Buzz I got down on Lyndons level and took the picture of him interacting with Buzz.
5- Watch your white balance
It's important to notice your white balance. When you are at Disney you will be going in and out of buildings encountering many different types of lighting which will require you to constantly change your white balance. If you always have it on auto you might be okay and may only need to tweak it here or there but if you keep it on manual (as I do), you will need to change it as needed. (If you don't know what white balance is, you need to read my book. :) )
For example, the shot below is too cool so I quickly dialed my white balance number up to make it warmer as in the second and last picture.
6- Use a low aperture and high ISO in order to not use a flash
I despise flashes. They look so unnatural to me and they don't help to convey the true feeling and atmosphere. But in order to not use a flash and still achieve a fast shutter speed you will need to turn your aperture way down and/or bump your ISO up. For example in these pictures with Aurora they were all taken inside. So my setting were: 30mm lens, ISO 500, f/1.6, 1/125 sec. As you can see my aperture was VERY low in order to get that fast enough shutter speed of 1/125 sec.
7- If all else fails, try to fix the picture in editing
Sometimes you can be so prepared and know exactly what you're doing but you still end up with a so-so picture. When this happens I give myself the liberty of playing around with it in the editing process to see if I can come up with something salvagable.
For example, unbeknownst to me, Belle was standing up further out of the lights than Aurora was, so the lighting was not so bueno. It was proving to be a hard fix while I was editing so I played around with some presets and found this one called, "Old Time Faded" that gave the pictures a cool look and masked the fact that they were underexposed.
Belle finally stepped back into the light and I was able to get a good shot of her hugging the kids.
7- Capture the moments to remember
From the time Lyndon was very small he has been in love with Cinderella. Not in the "I want to be Cinderella" sort of way but in the "I want Cinderella to be my girlfriend" way. Maddie got a huge life-size Cinderella when Lyndon was about 1 year old and every since, he's been smitten.
Here are a few pictures of a younger Lyndon with his gal pal...
He used to always have her in his bed...
So from day 1 of our trip Lyndon talked about meeting his girlfriend, Cinderella (gul-friend, as Lyndon pronounces it). And he finally had the opportunity!
We were just about ready to leave and I said, "so are you going to give Cinderella a hug?" He immediately turned around and threw his arms around her. After his long-lasting hug he said to her, "Did you know that you are my gul-friend?" And not coming out of character Cinderella threw her hands to her heart and said, "Oh my, I'll be sure to tell Prince Charming!"
And there you go. Hopefully this will help you better capture the special moments your kids (or you!) will have when you meet your next beloved Disney character.
P.S. We only ended up waiting in the very short lines to see the characters. (We were given fast passes to see the princesses otherwise it would have been a 2 hour wait!!) For all the other characters that Maddie didn't see but really wanted their autograph we told her that all she had to do was make a list of the characters signatures that she wanted, set her autograph book outside her door along with the list, and then during the night they would come around and sign her book. So after she went to sleep Jonathon signed each name very carefully. She totally bought it! Yay!
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Are you ready for some tried and true tips, tricks, and hints on how to photograph your Disney vacation? Because I have so much to tell you ...