While the Disney Photo Pass service is extremely popular, many people still take their own photographs. I’m definitely one of them.

Whether you use the built-in camera on your smart phone, carry around a simple point and shoot camera, or are the proud owner of a fancy DSLR camera, we can all learn to take better photographs.

I would not call myself a photography expert, but I have learned over the years how to improve my pictures. It’s definitely not all about the equipment you use – although that does make a difference.

By following some simple tips we can all improve the quality of the photographs we take at Disney World.

Let’s take a look at six easy tips to improve your pictures:

1 – Do a Bit of Homework

Many of us unpack a brand-new camera and never use any feature except the auto shoot mode. However, even if you have no interest in becoming a professional photographer, it is a good idea to take a few minutes to read through the manual that comes with your camera. When you get out of the automatic modes that come with your camera and start to use some of the manual settings, you can take some much more interesting photographs. Read up on how to use the manual modes and then experiment with them from home before your trip to Walt Disney World.

Read the manual that comes with your camera.  You'll be glad you did.

Read the manual that comes with your camera. You’ll be glad you did.

2 – Welcome the Light

The sun in Florida is extremely bright and can wash out your photographs. Many professional photographers call the first and last hour of light during the day of the “golden hours”. This is when the sun is low in the sky and casts a beautiful golden hue over the land. These “golden hours” are some of the best times to take photographs. Even so, you probably won’t want to limit yourself to taking pictures during just those two hours of the day. When taking photographs in bright sunlight, do your best to put the sun at your back and your subject in front of you. This will help you avoid shadows and dark patches in your photos.

The golden hour - it's a great time to take photos.

The golden hour – it’s a great time to take photos.

3 – Consider a Tripod

When I visit Disney World I like to travel as lite as I can. If I can fit everything I need in my pockets I’m a happy person. However, when it comes to photography, sometimes you need an extra bit of gear to help you take good pictures. If you are interested in taking photographs at night, when the parks really come to life with amazing beauty, I highly recommend bringing a tripod with you. Nighttime photography usually requires that you keep your camera very still. That is hard or impossible to do if you are holding it in your hands. When you use a tripod you will get much better photographs of everything at night – and especially of fireworks.

Getting good nighttime shots or fireworks shots usually requires a tripod.

Getting good nighttime shots or fireworks shots usually requires a tripod.

4 – Look for Unique Views

I believe everyone should take a photograph of their family standing in front of Cinderella Castle. It’s a must-do when you visit Disney World. However, don’t limit yourself to just the standard shots. Look for unique views and angles of the people in your traveling party as well as the objects around you. Often times, shooting from below or the side of your subject will create a unique and interesting perspective.

5 – Get Up Close

One of the things that Disney World does better than everyone else in the theme park industry is create little details that make a big difference. If you enjoy taking photographs, consider looking for those details. Zoom in on the little things that make everything around Disney World so exciting and unique.

Zoom in - you can get some great details.

Zoom in – you can get some great details.

6 – Go Trigger Happy

Unless you were one of the very few people out there who still use traditional film and a camera, you can benefit from the joys of digital photography by taking many, many shots. I’ve heard several professional photographer say that one key to taking good pictures it’s taking a lot of pictures. Yes, many of them may be similar, but when you take many pictures you can find the one out of the many that has the best composition. In some shots people have their eyes closed. In other shots strangers will wander into your frame. By taking several photographs you improve your chances of getting a good shot.

Do you like taking photographs at Disney World?