I ran, I saw, I photographed. Or at least, that is what it felt like after almost five days at Disneyland for a runDisney weekend! I came home from the Happiest Place on Earth having reached a new fitness goal; with my sister visiting from across the country; loads of photographs and some fun souvenirs; and a cold (thumbs down on that one!). But really – best of all – I have a new collection of memories. In preparation of the trip, which took place over Labor Day Weekend 2014, I outlined a memory keeping strategy to help me stay organized and cognizant of images and feelings I hoped to capture on the trip. It included a photo wishlist that would help guide my eye and camera/iPhone during the stay. Below is an overview of what worked, what didn't, and what I learned for next time.
PRE-TRIP + MISCELLANEOUS | I did get some pics of my stuff before packing them in my suitcase. And although I was still sewing on one of the running outfits the day before I left, I managed to get some pics of the process. I cannot say this enough (and this is true for any vacation) – AN EXTERNAL PHONE CHARGER IS A MUST! (The one in the link is the one I purchased, but there are other options as well.) I did take my Nikon, but I admit that I hardly used it. I felt it bogged me down and I just didn't have the patience to get it out of my bag. I found I much preferred my iPhone 5 and the Camera+ app, it is just more convenient and I am very familiar with what it can do. The PhotoPass+ was well worth the expense. Some of my favorite photos are from that source. As for social media, after searching a few options for a specific hashtag for my trip, I decided on #DumboorBust (Dumbo or Bust) – something short and easy. Steph had the fun idea to use #CMrunDisney (Capturing Magic runDisney) for the team members who were there for the weekend, so check it out for the collection of photos shared between Heather, Tanya, Jon and Ginger, and myself.
WHILE AT DISNEYLAND | a photo wishlist
Paradise Pier Hotel – staying on property means I’m doing a happy dance – pics galore! I did take pictures of the hotel, including a couple of trademark details (there is a Surfer Goofy statue in the main lobby), pics of the pool area, the view out of my window, multiple shots of the room and bathroom interior, and a shot of the room number outside of the door. TIP: take your room photos as soon as you enter the room for the first time, if possible. I had great daylight and there was absolutely no mess or clutter yet, so I was able to get the clean shots I wanted.
from where I stand perspective, from multiple locations – I was pretty obnoxious about taking these types of shots. I love the various details and moods that were captured from this angle, and I have quite a handful to show for my efforts. So much so that I plan to write an entire post about it, with plenty of examples and tips. So stay tuned! The shot I share here is one of my favorites. I just love the plants and that line of turquoise tile.
food and drinks – specifically Starbucks, unique dining, and snacks! I enjoyed a few Starbucks drinks during my trip, and this shot was taken soon after I entered the park after completing the Dumbo Double Dare challenge. And I also enjoyed a lunch at Cafe Orleans on my first day of the trip. I was solo in the park and ate at a small table outdoors. TIP: if given a choice, outdoor dining in the shade can offer great conditions for lighting; or else, ask for a table by the window. Make your food and accompanying utensils cozy together to capture a full place setting.
runDisney – expo, race events, medals – I did get plenty of pictures of my medals, the swag from the runner's bag (tech tees), and some shots from outside. Inside, the expo lighting was that weird flourscent/dimness that often frustrate me for indoor shots. Therefore, my expo pics are lacking. I probably didn't put much effort into it either, to be honest. As for the events themselves, the start of all these races gives you the darkness of pre-dawn, and by the time I was done at the finish lines, it was super sunny and bright, so there was lots of harsh sunlight and squinty eyes. I was happy with the image below because it inlcudes the runDisney logo. I actually rotated the photo and did a blur effect to bring focus to the snack box and drinks. TIP: rotate, crop, edit. These tools are your friends! Don't be afraid to use them to achieve the look you want.
commemorate the Dumbo Double Dare – Dumbo ride, Dumbo statue – I went a little Dumbo-crazy for photos, but I am glad I did because not all of them turned out. I took photos standing by the ride, of a Dumbo popcorn bucket, and even of a wall of Dumbo plush in the gift shops. I had seen race medals featured with the small character statues found in the DL hub, and had in mind to get my own. Not surprisingly, I ran into people getting their pictures taken with this Dumbo statue. Luckily, I had a PhotoPass Photographer nearby (they take shots in the hub with Walt and Mickey, and with the castle in the background) and she came up to me and offered to take my picture with the statue – score! The photos she took turned out better than the ones with my phone. I tilted, cropped and edited the PhotoPass picture seen below. TIP: It never hurts to ask the PhotoPass Photographers to take photos with other nearby props, backgrounds, etc. Think outside the box!
with my sister, and any friendly encounters – I haven't been in a Disney Park with my sister in almost 20 years, and that was at Epcot. I knew we would need to get some great photos, and this is where the PhotoPass really payed off. While we have some fun selfies taken with our phones, the PhotoPass pictures we have from various locations in the parks gave us some winners, including the one below which I love the most. (I edited the photo in Picasa to improve the color tone, which was weird due to the bright sun.) I was also happy to have a picture with fellow CM contributers Tanya and Heather from one of our quick meet-ups in Disneyland – this photo was taken while they waited for the afternoon parade. TIP: I highly recommend stalking – I mean, meeting – these gals if you ever get the chance, they are as cute and fun in person as they are in the virtual world.
modeling with special jewelry, accessories – a popular photo trend at the moment is to take a photo of jewelry and accessories, with a relevant backdrop featured as well. This is such a great idea for recording the story behind a special souvenir. I have started a collection of the Alex and Ani charm bracelets, and knew I wanted the Disneyland charm as a keepsake of this special weekend.
character selfies – I managed to get a few character selfies during the trip, which I shared on my Instagram account. This one with Stitch was the last one, fitting as it was a Stitch themed 10k race (of which I am wearing the tech shirt with Stitch on the front). If you have friends or family standing by with a camera or video recorder, tell them to be prepared. I had a very fun interaction with Goofy when I asked him if he would take a selfie with me – he proceeded to preen and fuss over himself for an exaggerated amount of time – I told him he was worse than my tween-aged daughter! You never know what those characters will do. TIP: I did not heed my own advice (see above re: food photos), but I wish I had asked if we could be seated near a window or out in more natural light when we ate at PCH Grill. As it was, we were seated at a small table by the wall and next to the kitchen, which offered yucky lighting and wonky shadows.
random details – Some of my favorite photos capture the small details that make all the difference in the Disney environments. They help tell the story, and they can serve as poignant reminders of magical experiences. For me, I love the fringe detail on the banner that I accidentally captured in this picture of the castle. Editing the photo enhanced the color. TIP: Tilting the camera up is an easy way to get rid of crowds and clutter in your park photos.
magic shots and ride photos – These are really unique to Disney and provide a look into your trip like no other photo can. How else do you get a little sparkly Tinkerbell in your hand, or a happy animated Olaf, into your photos? And the ride photos are priceless. Sometimes the strangers in the photo with you steal the show and add so much to the story! TIP: The ride photo shots tend to happen at the height of the thrill, or rather on the biggest drop, of the ride. The bright flash of light you see is the moment the photo is taken, so plan to be prepared on your second run so that you know when to flash your best scream-y smile.
NEXT TRIP…. A few photo opportunities did not make the cut this time. The concept of a photo of me and my sister with Elsa and Anna just wasn't worth the wait and effort required – that character meet and greet has crazy long lines! I tried for some fireworks pics but had an obscured view, and we didn't make it to World of Color (gasp!). I realized I had not taken any balloon photos, so when I did remember it was at night and on the last park day, so what I did take are not the best. I will keep the balloons in mind for my next trip. But as I look through my list of photo ops, I am happy that I captured most of them!
I really feel it can pay off for your photo haul if you do some planning regarding the photos you think you want to take on your next vacation. Seeing what others take photos of can inspire and get your mind thinking outside the box. It will impact your memory keeping projects after the trip, and how you visually remember the vacation. And the longer the photo wishlist, the better. You will have plenty of photo prompts, while allowing for some breathing room for the ones you never get around to. (Those photos you don't get can simply go on the list for the next trip!) The runDisney aspect of my trip was very important, and therefore I had an experience different from when I go with my kids. I feel I was able to capture that in my photos.
What photos would you put on your wishlist for your next vacation? We would love to get your input, so share in the comments below.
A scrapbooker and collector since childhood and long time fan of Disney parks and media, Beth ventures into the blogging world at Any Happy Little Thoughts where she shares her approach for preserving personal Disney memories, one story at a time.