Now that the holidays are behind us, we’re all looking forward to this year’s upcoming Disney Trips and inevitably thinking about photography opportunities. We’ve all heard of writer’s block, right? How about photographer’s block? Do you sometimes pass under the big “Walt Disney World” welcome sign full of excitement and anticipation thinking about all the awesome photos you’re going to get? A few hours later, you find yourself standing in the middle of Magic Kingdom saying, “I have no idea what I want to photograph!” You’ve spent the days leading up to your vacation imagining all of the opportunities awaiting you. You try to think of something interesting, something different, something other than the obligatory castle, tree, hat or sphere photos. You try to become inspired by some aspect of Disney that you have never given thought to photographing. So you ask yourself, “What have I never photographed before? Nada, nothing, zip. You wonder why you even brought the stupid camera. There’s just nothing else to take pictures of that’s interesting, I’ve done it all. After making 40 plus trips to Disney World, I’ve said that.
I think we all get in ruts like that from time to time, no matter what we photograph. The complex creatures that we are, we can become bored fairly easily. The wonderful thing about Disney World is that there are so many unique things to use as subjects, you won‘t live long enough to capture them all. You have to look beyond the obvious. That’s one of the most magical aspects of Disney to me. Things that you normally wouldn’t spend 2 seconds looking at, much less take the time to actually photograph, can be very photo-worthy. That’s what makes Disney, well…Disney. Nothing is ordinary; seemingly every mundane object has some feature that is uniquely Disney.
I got in the habit of looking at everything except the obvious. That’s where the treasures are, everywhere other than right in front of your face. It almost seems as if the Imagineers want it that way. They want you to make a conscious effort to find Disney details. Ever hear of “Hidden Mickeys?” Would “Obvious Mickeys” be half as much fun? I think you could spend your entire life simply looking for and photographing Hidden Mickey’s and never get all of them. There’s actually a website devoted to that.
The most interesting subjects to me are the ones no one else notices. I like for someone to look at a picture I’ve taken in Disney and ask, “Where is this?” I’ve actually photographed trash cans, yes really, trash cans. Even something as insignificant as a trash can has its own unique Disney flair.
Here’s one right here…
Take the time to study the details on an attraction, especially the outdoor attractions. Take Aladdin’s Carpets for example. Instead of trying to capture the entire structure, pick a portion of it and make that your subject. The picture below is just the very top of the ride. I think this makes for an interesting photo. We know that’s it Aladdin’s Carpets, but it’s not “in your face” obvious, I think. I especially like how the clouds behind the lamp spout look almost like smoke coming from the lamp itself.
Another favorite subject of mine is all of the wonderful architecture of Disney. This in itself can fill an entire vacation with photo opportunities. Disney architecture is, after all, one of it’s most notable features. There is so much amazing architecture on Disney property it always makes its way into my lens. Here’s a shot of the steeple on top of Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway Pavilion of Epcot. Again, here I didn’t try to get the entire building in the frame, but instead focused on the details of the steeple.
Here’s another architecture shot. You’re probably thinking, “this guy looks up a lot”. Yeah, I do. That’s where I find a lot of stuff that normally gets overlooked. I liked the way the moon and tree branch played into this Asian themed shot.
Okay, so this guy is in a very obvious location in the lobby of Port Orleans French Quarter, but I liked him. Take a look at these next couple and guess what resorts they were taken in…
Did you guess Animal Kingdom Lodge and The Contemporary? The Animal Kingdom Lodge is loaded with very unique things to photograph; you just have to take the time to look for them.
Here are a few more that fit into the “Disney Details” category;
Port Orleans French Quarter
The Lamp posts of Paris
Lantern in Japan – Gift to Roy E Disney from the Emperor.
So there you have it, a few of my detailed observations in Disney. We truly never will run out of things to photograph – we just have to remember where to look.