My 10 Favorite Disney Photos of 2014
Continuing the tradition of my year-end top 10 photos post, I wanted to share 10 of my favorite* Disney Parks photos from 2014. Normally, I share some thoughts about my growth and failings as a photographer in this year-end recap, but I already shared my thoughts at length on My 10 Favorite Non-Disney Photos of 2014 post.
Rather than re-write a variation of that, you can head over to that post and read my rambling, if you really care. Since most of you are probably here just for the photos, not my words, and because I need to wrap this post up quickly and get some things done before tonight, I’ll cut to the chase here.
Click any photo to view it large via SmugMug…
Disneyland Paris looks and feels like a fairytale, but it’s one that’s usually set in an overcast environment. I was lucky to have some really nice weather during my visit, and the soft light during this sunset really conveyed the true mood of the park.
I stopped in my tracks when I saw this scene. Years ago, one of the first (in my mind) really cool photos I saw of Disney was the circle of the sun shining through the Imagination pavilion. Being a huge Figment fan, I thought this was about the greatest thing ever, and representative of the EPCOT Center that once was, as it reminded me of this pre-opening guide to EPCOT Center. Spending way too much time critiquing all things Disney, I can be a bit pessimistic at times. While I don’t think it’s truly the dawn of a new Disney era for Epcot, standing there as the sun shined through pyramid and the monorail glided by gave me a trip down memory lane, and made me oddly optimistic for the future. “Little moments” like this remind of my why I love the Disney Parks so much.
Following a Mark Twain night cruise the stars aligned. Or, rather, the Matterhorn, Sleeping Beauty Castle, and full moon aligned as I just stumbled upon this stunning scene. No prior planning was involved, so I scrambled to attach my telephoto lens and capture a few shots before having to get off the boat. I didn’t have time to set up a tripod and bracket, so I had of balance my lens on the ship railing and crank the ISO a tad, but I’m fairly pleased with the result of this single exposure. It’s not technically perfect, but I think it’s pretty.
The Thunder Mesa version of Frontierland is one of my favorite lands anywhere. Not only do I love the beauty of the land, but also the storyline tying it all together (which unlike so many other things is not at all contrived). Here I was able to capture a fairly unique angle on Phantom Manor at sunset that also shows the Molly Brown Riverboat and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the distance.
I took over 100 shots this year that I think are better than this one, but I’m including it here because it represents progress towards my goal of becoming a better “lifestyle” photographer and seeing candid moments better. Since I don’t have kids nor do I do structured photo shoots, this requires creepin’ on others, which is a challenge both in terms of not being creepy about it, and also quickly getting a good shot without being awkward or noticed.
I am a huge fan of vintage Disney souvenir books and the photos contained in those books. While I really appreciate those photos, my style typically isn’t the same. I feel like this shot is in the spirit of those classic photos, and I really like it.
This is a shot that’s here not so much on its merits, but because of the memory it evokes. This was shot on the night Typhoon Vongfong hit Japan, and it was the deadest I’ve ever seen a Disney theme park during operating hours, which is really saying something considering the crowds Tokyo Disney Resort draws. We left Osaka with Jenn and Guy Selga early that morning to avoid being stranded and when we arrived in Tokyo, called a last-minute audible and were “those crazy Americans” who went to the parks during the storm. The wind and rain were pretty crazy, and it was sort of surreal being in an empty park as we heard periodic announcements that the JR line was down (good thing we left Osaka early!), but it was well worth it. One of my best nights in a theme park, ever.
This is an example of making lemonade out of lemons. For the debut weekend of Disney Paint the Night Parade in Hong Kong Disneyland, I camped out for my favorite parade spot at the end of Main Street. Ten minutes before the parade started, Cast Members roped off a spot for a vlogger (or celebrity? I really have no clue; someone more important than me, in any case) and her posse. I cursed my bad luck as the group waved at every float and ruined 90% of my shots, but it was all worth it for this one. Take that, Hong Kong YouTube Internet Sensation Lady! 😉
I don’t know if it’s the pollution, the right amount of particulate matter in the air, or what, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the sun as such a distinct ball in such a deep shade of red as I did during this sunset. I only had a couple minutes to race from Mystic Point to the end of Main Street before the sun disappeared, but I’m glad I got this shot. From Sleeping Beauty Castle to the mountains to the red sun, this shot embodies Hong Kong Disneyland for me.
This might just be one of the most patriotic photos of all time. Think about everything it has. Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney. Sam the Eagle. American Flag. Fireworks. Ice Cream. Main Street USA. I should have just quit photography as soon as I took this shot and gone out on a high note.
I hope you enjoyed these photos, and the year of posts on Disney Tourist Blog. I’m exciting about the coming year both in terms of photography and the blog, and hope you’ll be following along.
I hope 2014 was a great year for you in photography or in whatever hobby you practice! Here’s to a great 2015 to you and your families!
Happy New Year!
Which of these photos do you like? Which do you not like? Any comments of your own to add about my photos over the course of the last year, your own goals as a photographer, Disney goals, or anything else? Please share in the comments!
Did you enhance the fairytale DLP image much in Photoshop? That’s a great image regardless. The Epcot sun one is terrific, it wouldn’t surprise me if there are many postcards for Epcot with similar composition. The HKDL castle is fantastic with the mountain and sun. I think the July 4th one might be better with a tighter crop, but it’s a minor quibble. It does point out a downfall of modern photography, though, the distractiveness of the little video screens everywhere. Nothing you can do about it really, it’s just more noticeable at night.
As for being creepy, I think that if you approach the parents either first or show them the photo(s) you just took and offer to delete it or send them a copy, you won’t come across as creepy. It won’t be possible every time, but it would help smooth things over if you get the impression that someone is uncomfortable with it. Creeps also probably are not carrying around the amount of equipment you are either.
Nice work as always!
Hey all –
I appreciate the comments and kind words. I’ve fallen a bit behind on comments here, but hope to respond to everyone who had a question, etc., in the next day or two.
Loved the Disney sea photo reminds me of the sinbad ride, follow the compass of your heart…
Anything that reminds you of Sindbad and Chandu is a good thing! 🙂
Thank you for sharing Tom. Sincerely appreciate all that you do and here’s to a great 2015! Cheers!
Thanks, and Happy New Year! You and your website are an inspiration for my own photographic efforts. What’s more, you’ve helped inspire an increased appreciation for the Disney parks in me! Keep up the great work.
Thank you so much for sharing the magic – for that is what you have captured here. Happy New Year to you and yours!
Fantastic photos Tom! Looking forward to see what beauty you capture in 2015!
Thanks for sharing Tom! I just LOVE your Disney photos! Me and my daughters are always joking that we want to change lives with you and Sarah! Your photos truly bring out the joy and beauty of Disney.
Change lives with us? Keep in mind that we have one VERY “BARKY” miniature dachshund! 😉
Happy new year Tom! Your blog and photos always bring happiness to our lives- especially in the dead of winter months when we anticipate our annual Disney vacations. I also want to say thank you (ok and the Ken burns documentaries) for inspiring me to visit more national parks. I hope you and Sarah have an incredible 2015.
You’re welcome! Any National Parks on the agenda for 2015?
Great smoky mountains this spring!
Love them all!! About being awkward taking lifestyle photos since you don’t have kids, you are more than welcome to come be creepy near my family when we go in September for my daughter’s first trip! Haha.
Seriously though, do you have any lifestyle tips? I really love that style of photography. I got my first DSLR this year for Christmas so I will be studying up on your blog big time before we go. I’d love to have some great scenery pics, but also a lot of lifestyle/candid pics to document Audrey’s first trip and her reaction to meeting Mickey the first time or seeing fireworks etc. I’d love any advice you can give about doing that style especially in the parks 🙂 my daughter will be almost 2 when we make the trip and I am so excited!
My big tip with regard to character meet & greets would be to do the outdoor ones early in the morning or just before sunset. Lighting for the indoor meet and greets is generally garbage. Shoot into the sun, use flash, and shoot tight. My lifestyle photos are a work in progress, so there’s probably better info out there. Have fun!
I have no idea how you could ever choose your favorites from all the fantastic photos you shoot. But I loved these too!
You’re so good. So so good. Thank you for sharing your talent and advice! And if you ever need lifestyle photography model volunteers, my husband and I volunteer 😉
Do you have any adorable children? That’s really what I’m “missing” right now, and it seems wrong for us to “have kids for the sake of better photos.” 😉
I do, I do!!!!!
I’m certainly far from an expert, but your work is the best Disney photography I’ve seen, and among the best anywhere. They should be paying you to take these photos. It’s not just the technical skill which is very good, but your composition, which draws you into these pictures and holds you there.
I would have to say my favorite is the shot at Epcot. It almost looks other worldly! I imagine standing on the planet Mars in about 500 years and seeing something like this. Great shot!
Just love them all! Thanks for sharing your amazing photography with us! Can’t wait to see what you do next year!