Shelby’s Guide To…Taking Family Pictures

If there’s one thing that nearly everyone does at Disneyland, it’s taking pictures. But there’s usually a conundrum. One family member (most often Dad) ends up holding the camera and taking all the pictures. At the end it rarely looks like Dad was even there at all. Perhaps Dad stayed home to golf and an invisible entity took the pictures.

Well let me give you some tips for taking pictures of the WHOLE family and proving that Dad really WAS there*.

One very common concern is that another guest will take off with your camera if you hand it over for a whole family picture. While that may be true in foreign countries where people prey on tourists and you don’t speak the language well enough to get your camera back, this really isn’t the case at Disneyland. Much more likely is that someone isn’t going to take a very good picture of you. So here’s my guide to giving your camera to someone least likely to steal it and most likely to take a good picture.

    1. Disney Photopass photographers. Any Disney cast member will take your picture but the Photopass photographers spend their entire day taking pictures so they’re usually good at it. The Photopass cast member will likely insist on taking a Photopass picture but will be happy with taking a picture with your camera too. A Photopass photographer is always an excellent bet and where available, probably your first consideration.

      Tree picture taken by Disney Photopass photographer

    2. Disney Cast Member handling a character. Each character comes with one or two handlers to make sure that things go smoothly with guests, the character isn’t out too long, and those with limited visibility don’t run into walls. Handlers take a lot of pictures for people so are usually pretty experienced, and a good choice for character pictures.

      Taken by a handler

Also taken by a handler

  1. Any Cast Member. Their skills may be hit or miss, but the likelihood of them taking off with your camera is nil.
  2. A guest with expensive-looking camera equipment. I really like to ask the person closest to me who has the most expensive looking camera equipment slung around their neck. One, most of the time their camera(s) are significantly more expensive than mine so again with the low risk of runners, and two, someone who owns expensive equipment is probably going to take better pictures and be able to use your camera than other random guests. No guarantees there though. There are certainly plenty of people who buy thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment and take pictures that look like Polaroids.

    Taken by a random guest who looked reasonably adept with a camera

  3. Any guest with children. Again, chances are low that they are going to run off with your camera dragging their kids along for the heist. I love to do a tit-for-tat with guests who are obviously families with one person behind the camera, asking if they would like me to take their picture and then asking them to reciprocate. Unfortunately, picture quality varies widely.
  4. The person behind you in line for a character. They’re waiting to see Mickey too, so they’re not going to get out of line when they’re almost there. The downside is the same as #5–picture quality varies.

    Taken by the guy behind me, because what I REALLY want is a picture of the bench next to Goofy. Thank you.

Other miscellaneous tips:

  1. Offer to take pictures of others. It’s good picture-taking karma.
  2. When you hand over your camera, be sure to be extremely specific about how it works, like “You push this button and you actually have to look into the thingie,” or “hold the button down, it takes a while to go.”
  3. You don’t need the whole castle/tree/whatever in the picture in order for us to get that you’re in front of the castle/tree/whatever.
  4. Consider alternate angles. In the castle picture above, we’re off to the right near Snow White’s wishing well. You get the idea anyway, and we didn’t have to fight the crowds at the drawbridge.
  5. Have fun! Don’t be afraid to look goofy. Nobody is judging you.

*As an aside, I hear a lot of people saying that they “don’t like to have their picture taken” or prefer to stay out of pictures altogether, or maybe they think they’re too fat or having a bad hair day or wearing an ugly sweater they don’t want memorialized. Well this is going to be blunt, but…get over it and get in the damned picture. Really–there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. If you have young children, they already think you’re the prettiest/most handsome parent out there and your fashion style is impeccable and what’s a few extra pounds. If you have older kids or teenagers, they don’t want to be seen with you anyway, so you might as well just go for it.

And let’s all take a moment and be thankful that slide photographs are officially out of style. I mean, not that slides are bad or anything, but anyone who remembers the agony of hanging up the white sheet on the wall and turning off the lights and clicking and focusing and sticking the projector on a book–no, a smaller book–no, try the phone book, and so on and so forth, can appreciate today’s technology where you make a cute little book on Shutterfly and be done with it. A couple of Christmases ago, we were at Kevin’s grandparents and Grandpa said, with a chuckle, that we were going to watch a slide show of some family vacation somewhere in the 50’s. I laughed because it sounded like a funny joke. It stopped being a funny joke when he actually pulled out the projector and white sheet…

3 responses to “Shelby’s Guide To…Taking Family Pictures

  1. Kelli January 5, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Not only did the Photo Pass guy take an amazing photo of our family, he also took a minute to teach me how to better use the force flash on my own camera. This small tip has made my photos signifantly better for the whole holiday season. I make it a rule to take a family photo or two every time we go just to keep my photo karma in the positive.

  2. lynne January 5, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Great suggestions!! It’s so nice to have photos of the whole group, and I’m inspired to offer to take pics of others more often!!

  3. WordyDoodles February 3, 2011 at 12:10 am

    Oh snap! It just got real at the end of the post. Good for you- tell it like it is. 🙂

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