Monday, July 18, 2011

Mentoring Mondays - Photography

Last week I let you know that Mentoring Mondays will be evolving somewhat, one of those changes is to focus on one topic each week.  This week focus will be photography.  I will be giving you tips on general photography, and if you have any questions please ask them in the comments area and I will answer. I am on my Disney World vacation starting on Wednesday so it may take a little time.

Here are my top ten tips for theme park photography.

1. Find A New Perspective - If every picture you take is from a standing position they can get redundant. Make your pictures stand out from taking them from a different perspective. For instance, if you are taking a picture of a child hugging a Mickey plush toy - instead of standing and looking down at the child, kneel down and take the picture from their level. Also, all pictures don't need to have a face, a nice picture of a child holding a parent or grandparents hand taken from behind is very nice.

2. Get Closer - Whether you are using a zoom lens or have to walk closer, get in there to take your pictures.  We all love those photos of a big bouquet of balloons, but a photo focusing on one balloon with the others as a backdrop can be much more dramatic. Even when taking pictures of your kids with the characters, you always want a full length photo of a princess, don't forget to take a close up when she kisses your little guy on the cheek. Is there anything cuter that a close up of Mickey hand holding our little one's hand?

3.  Over Shoot - You wonder how photographers get those great shots, they shoot ALOT of pictures. For every one they keep they may delete 30. I put my camera on burst mode so that it can take several pictures in quick succession. If you've never tried it you should. Yes, you have lots of photos to delete but the odds of getting a great one are much better the more you shoot.

4.  Take Pictures Without People - We all are guilty of this. Sometimes pictures tell a story without having to have someone in them. These pictures are often easier to use in our blogs too. Take a picture of the Roy Disney statue on the bench without someone sitting beside him.  How about a picture of Cinderella Castle without your little princess in the shot. Pictures of the signs of the attractions are always great to use on your blog.

5.  Plan Ahead - Before your trip think about what you might like to blog about and make a list of topics before you leave.  Go out when the parks are less crowded and take pictures with that topic in mind, then you don't have to stop the fun while in the parks with your family.

6. Tell A Story - If you are going to blog about the Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream tell the whole story with your pictures. For instance #1 Beaches and Cream Sign, #2 Ordering (maybe even include the cast member), #3 The Kitchen Sink right when it arrives at your table, #4 Everyone enjoying their ice cream, #5 The ice cream halfway gone, #6 The empty Kitchen Sink, #7 The "I can't believe I ate the whole thing!" crowd.

7.  Look For A Shaded Area - Avoid bright sunny areas if at all possible. Photographers look for a shade and move their subjects there whenever possible, they call this indirect light. This keeps your pictures from being overexposed (too bright), it also keeps the subjects from being all squinty from the bright sunlight. Shade doesn't always have to come from trees, it can come from buildings, umbrellas, even signs.

8. Know your equipment - Buying an new camera a couple of days before your trip is not a good idea. The will be a learning curve. I know where every button on my Nikon is without looking, I can change the shutter speed and aperture without thinking about it. If you don't know your camera inside and out, use it on Auto.

9. Don't use poor quality pictures on your blog.  We have all done it, taken that picture of Cinderella's Castle at twilight that is just a little out of focus. You love it but you know it's not the best quality. DON'T use it. Use another one that is in focus, you will have a better blog for it to. Some tips for keeping your pictures in focus.

  • Hold your breath when you take the shot.
  • Press the shutter button halfway and allow your camera to come into focus before actually take the picture.
  • Find a stable item to place your camera on to take the shot (a table or bench, anything that's not going to move).
  • If it's a bright sunny day follow these steps. 
  1. Point the lens of your camera toward the sky.
  2. Press the shutter half way down and allow the camera to focus.
  3. Without letting go of the shutter button move the camera back to where you want the picture and press the shutter the rest of the way down. 
10. Avoid Using Your Flash - Obviously there are time when we have to use the on camera flash. But if at all possible avoid using it, it will reflect and bounce back on windows and mirrors and that is very distracting in your photographs. It makes your pictures look plain and blah, shadows are a natural occurrence and you are taking them away when you use flash. It will also cause that awful red eye we all hate so much, as well as blinking.

Now, I would like to recommend a book, Understanding Exposure by Brian Peterson. It is a book that has been a photographer favorite for years. You will definitely learn from it. A couple of good photography websites:   Here's a link to a good article on taking fireworks pictures  The New York Institute of Photography has a really good newsletter .  The Picture Perfect School of Photography is Brian Peterson's site, he has courses which can be quite expensive but here's a link to some free video lessons .

Please ask any questions, I will be happy to answer or find out the correct answer for you. Hope everyone has a Magical Day!!
Donna Kay


  1. Great post with lots of great tips! Have a wonderful vacation. Can't wait to hear about it!

  2. What a wonderful post, Donna Kay! I love, love, love taking pictures, but am absolutely no good at it! Well, I guess I do okay with what I have and what I want them for, but I love learning new things. I hope to have a nice SLR one day, but we'll see. Great tips and info! I loved it!!


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