Don't be that photographer — the one who makes a scene, instead of capturing it. Here are our top five rules for taking pictures whenever you're on vacation.
Don't block others' view
Photography shouldn't be a zero-sum game. Your getting a shot shouldn't keep others from being able to take their pictures, too. Or even keeping others just from seeing the show, ride, or character you're shooting. Never hold any part of your camera equipment above the top of your head. Keep your phone or camera in front of you and out of the line-of-sight of others. If that's not enough to get a clear shot, move rather than block others' view.
And if you are one of those people who take pictures with an iPad or other tablet, be especially aware of how much space those devices take. Hold it down and out of the way of others. And if you can't, invest in a less conspicuous device to take your photos.
Don't block others' way
We all know that theme parks are crowded places. Don't block the flow of traffic to stop and take a photo in a busy walkway. Find a place off to the side to set up your shot.
Most parks, including all the Disney World and Disneyland theme parks, ban the use of selfie sticks, so just leave those at home. Even if they are allowed, don't set up tripods or other support devices in places that block people from moving around the park. If you are using a tripod for parade or show, don't hog valuable space — the tripod should not extend to take up more space than a normal person standing would. A monopod is often a better choice in a crowd... or a personal-sized gimbal-mounted camera, such as an Osmo.
Don't take other people's pictures without permission
Yes, theme parks are public places. And we've all probably been in the background of other peoples' photos more times than we ever could count. Plus, all those on-ride photos, too. But there's a difference between capturing a bunch of other people in the background of your shot and zooming in (or moving in) for a close-up. If you want to take a picture of someone you don't know (including cast or team members), ask first. That's especially true with children. I don't take how much that homemade princess dress would look just perfect on your Pinterest page. If it ain't your kid, ask the parent. You would want someone to show the same respect to your child, right?
Don't use a flash
The theme park's number-one rule for in-park photography still applies. Never use a flash or spotlight in an attraction, where a pulsing flash disrupts theatrical lighting and blinds people who waited to see the show. And don't even use a flash or other artificial light outside of an attraction if it's likely to bother the people around you. If you can't keep the light out of strangers' eyes, don't use it.
Don't make people wait
Taking "just a moment" to snap a picture of everyone getting into a ride vehicle might be the single most selfish and discourteous thing that most people do in a theme park. Even a few seconds' delay, when multiplied by every ride vehicle, can significantly reduce the number of people an attraction can put through in an hour, extending waits for everyone. On some rides, such as roller coasters, a delay in loading even can cause the ride to shut down, costing you and hundreds of people waiting behind you the opportunity to ride at all.
At character meet and greets, don't take an unreasonable amount of time with the character. Have your camera ready to go, any autograph books and pens in hand, and be as considerate of the people waiting behind you as you wish the people in front of you had been.
Now, we didn't get into any of the other rules for taking pictures, such as using available natural light, framing your subject, getting your focal point actually in focus, and all that stuff. That's useful, too, but on behalf of everyone who'll be sharing the park with you on your next visit, but never see your resulting photos... just be cool when taking pictures around us, okay?
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