Coming home from your vacation with free family photos at Disneyland is one of the best souvenirs! We all love having those photo mementos to look back on of our days at Disney. PhotoPass & MaxPass are great, but definitely an added expense. All too often after my trip, I look at the shots I took and realize that I didn’t take enough pictures of all of us together. Or the shots we took just aren’t frame-worthy. Having a photo game-plan can help! These are my tips for capturing the best free family photos at Disneyland.
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Find out how to get the best free family photos at Disneyland-
1. Start Taking Family Photos Early in the Day
I find that if I have it on my mind to take family photos early in the day then it’s more likely to happen! Plus, everyone still looks good and hair is decent before we become a bit disheveled from the high speeds of Space Mountain and the whipping wind on the Silly Symphony Swings! A good place to start with a family shot is in front of the Mickey floral arrangement at Disneyland or with the Walt statue at Disney California Adventure Park.
2. Take a Quick Look at Everyone
Before getting into position take a fast glance at everyone in your group. Does anyone have a smear of chocolate on their cheeks? Hair that could use smoothing? Holding something that you could put down? Have everyone take off their sunglasses, purses and in some cases, hats (if it’s causing unflattering shadows on the face).
3. Best Locations in the Parks
Naturally, there are the classic spots, like in the hub with Main Street U.S.A. behind you or directly in front of the Castle. During certain special events or seasons, there are some fun photo locations set up at the Disneyland Resort. This one was in front of Haunted Mansion during the 60th anniversary celebration.
If you find that getting a clear photo of your entire family without people walking in front of or behind your perfect shot, try to scope out an alternate location nearby that still gets the iconic image in the background but focuses on your group. I like having my family stand near the statues in front of the Castle so you can still see the Castle behind them, but the crowd is blurry.
Some easy locations for a clear shot are near the Radiator Springs Racers or with Mickey’s Fun Wheel behind you at the entrance to Paradise Pier area.
4. Don’t Rule out the Selfie
Cram everyone together and take a selfie. Yeah, you might not get everyone’s head in the shot but you can really capture the fun and togetherness of your vacation with a selfie photo of your group.
5. Unique Locations
Take a look around the Resort and find creative spots to pose your family. We find that many of the temporary walls that are assembled in front of up-coming projects are great backdrops. I love this one of my family in front of what would later be Cars Land. They struck a silly pose and it’s one of my favorite family photos!
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6. Catch Them on a Ride
Stake out a good spot ahead of time and capture the moment. Some rides are easier than others. For some attractions, like the Mad Tea Party teacups you can stand on the sidelines and take a shot of your family before they start spinning.
7. Use Your Fancy Camera AND Your Cell Phone Camera
If you can, take a few shots with your camera and then again with your cell phone. Sometimes one captures the moment (and the lighting) better than the other. I know that my fancier camera doesn’t take photos in the dark as well as my cell phone camera either. I also love to be able to share via social media on my cell phone.
Check out more of my cell phone camera tips on this post.
8. Seek the Best Lighting
Angle your group to get the best and most flattering lighting. No use snapping photos if the light if coming behind them and making your family shadowy and unrecognizable. Having your family stand under open shade (not dappled light and not in direct sun) for the most flattering natural light. Turn their faces towards the sunlight but not directly eyeing the sun or they’ll all be squinting.
You’ll know you have the best lighting when skin looks creamy and there are “catch” lights in the eyes (they’ll sparkle!)
9. Take More Than One of the Same Shot
Long gone are the days of film, where you’d snap one single shot of the moment and cross your fingers that everyone had their eyes open! With digital photography, feel free to take a bunch of shots of the same pose. You’ll be that much more likely to find one that is perfect.
10. Take Candid Shots, As Well As Posed
Capture those little moments as you see them throughout your trip. Take tons of photos because you just never know what you’ll capture!
11. Holiday Travel Plans
During the holiday seasons there are so many amazing locations to take photographs. From the giant Mickey jack-o’ lantern in fall to the decorated Christmas tree and photo with Santa in the winter, you need to plan which locations are must-do! Check out this post on what Christmas photos to take at Disneyland.
12. Recruit a Cast Member or PhotoPass Photographer
Even if you aren’t purchasing PhotoPass, you can still request that a PhotoPass photographer take your picture. Make sure your camera is set and ready to go before you hand it over to them.
Every family photo shot in this post that is of my entire family was taken by PhotoPass photographers with my own personal camera. No need to pay for pictures this way. And you can still capture that perfect family photo at Disney, without any extra cost!
LOOKING FOR MORE PLANNING TIPS? THE Disneyland with Kids: Ultimate Resource Guide IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!
And if you DO spring for PhotoPass, check out my friend Jessica’s post on The Happiest Blog on Earth about the Best Disneyland PhotoPass Spots!