Amusement Park Photography Tips

Navy Pier Swingers sailing around in swing carousel

Trina Dopp Photography / Getty Images

Theme parks are great for shooting photos for several reasons. First, there are some recognizable landmarks in these parks, things that will be memorable for your family later on when you're reviewing the photos. Second, the weather is usually great, with plenty of sun, which is perfect for shooting photos. Try these tips for making the most of your theme park shots while you're taking photos while traveling on vacation.

Be Prepared

Keep your camera ready at all times. You never know when a theme park character will pop up or when a cool photo opportunity will occur. A tiny point-and-shoot camera will be much easier to carry in a theme park, but you won't have the versatility that a larger ultra-zoom camera is going to give you, so you'll have to weigh the pros and cons of each type of camera when choosing what to carry with you.

Find Color

There are plenty of things to do at an amusement park, which means the potential subject matter for your photos is almost endless. Color is everywhere at the theme park, so make sure you use it. Colorful rides, colorful food, and colorful scenery all are great for photographs.

Watch the Background

As you’re walking around the park from attraction to attraction, keep an eye out for good photo spots and positions. For example, if the large roller coaster hangs over the sidewalk, keep that in mind when you want to shoot an action photo of the kids riding the coaster, as it might provide your best angle for a photo.

Take Advantage of the Sun

The available sunlight, coupled with the speed of the theme park’s rides, provides a perfect opportunity for shooting at fast shutter speeds. Take advantage of the sunlight when trying to capture photos of the family on a fast-moving ride and shoot at the maximum shutter speed.

Take Advantage of the Night

Don’t put the camera away at night. You’ll have to shoot at some different settings, but the flashing lights of a midway or the fireworks over the park will provide some cool photo opportunities.

Use Opportunities for Group Shots

If you have young children with you at the theme park, chances are good you’ll end up shooting a lot of staged group photos of them with various characters. Try to keep the children’s eyes level with your camera lens, meaning you may need to crouch or kneel while shooting the photo. Sometimes, the characters are indoors, so make sure your settings are correct for the shooting environment. As you’re standing in line, waiting for your children’s turn with the character, take the time to adjust camera settings. It's also never a bad idea to snap a shot on automatic mode.

Be a Bit Choosy

Remember that although it's easy to shoot a lot of images with a digital camera, at some point you're going to have to go through those images, organizing them and decide which ones to keep. It's pretty easy to shoot several hundred photos over a few days without even realizing it. If you're someone who typically doesn't have the time to organize your photos, you may want to limit the number of photos you shoot at the theme park. Don't shoot 20 or 30 photos of the same scene when just a few will do.

Enjoy the Experience

Don't spend the entire day with the camera held up to your face. You want to enjoy the theme park, too, which can be difficult if you constantly have a camera in your hand. If you're someone who has a hard time putting the camera down, you may want to shoot a series of images and then force yourself to put the camera away for an hour.

Another thing to consider is that your children may want to shoot their own photos during the visit to the theme park. If you choose to allow them to do this by buying the kids their own digital camera, stick with a low-priced model, just in case the child loses or damages the camera at the theme park.

Finally, make sure you have a way to securely hold or store your camera, as you ride the rides. Dropping that expensive camera on the loop-the-loop roller coaster will put a damper on the day. In addition, many theme parks include water rides where “you will get wet.” Keep a plastic bag handy that includes a tight seal for keeping your camera dry.