One of my absolute favorite things about the holidays at Walt Disney World is the added entertainment at Epcot. Between the Peace on Earth fireworks tag, the Candlelight Processional, and the Holiday Storytellers, the added value of this park is pretty great. There can be some challenges though when it comes to taking photos of the Storytellers, so for today’s post, I’m going to share a few tips on how to capture them!
1. Use a fast shutter speed.
Whenever shooting anything that has motion, it is important to use a fast shutter speed. That way, you freeze the motion and don’t get any blur. You may have to sacrifice your ISO to do this, but a slightly noisy shot that is sharp is better than a noise-less shot that is blurry. If you have a fast lens, like an f/1.8 or f/2.8, you might be able to have the best of both worlds.
There are many times that you might have your camera in Automatic mode, or Aperture Priority, and in order to keep the ISO down, the camera might default to a shutter speed of 1/60 or 1/100. This may not cut it when shooting motion, like the shot of the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs above. So, the best thing to do is to switch to Manual mode. For the shot above, I did that, set my aperture to f/1.8, and my shutter speed to 1/500. I let the camera decide the ISO for me, and I came away with a sharp shot!
2. Catch them in the wild.
This may seem a little odd to hear, as it sounds like we’re shooting animals on a safari. But, all of these performers do their show on a stage of some sort. That means that the vast majority of the shots people will take will be while they are on said stage. You can capture something unique by getting some photos while they are making their way from backstage to the stage. You also get the chance to capture them with the background of the country they are from, like this shot of La Befana of Italy.
3. Get there early and get a spot!
Much of successful photography is planning, and getting shots here is no different. The stages for all of these shows are pretty small, and are meant to be seen by small to medium sized audiences. That said, if you get there too late, there is a good chance you’ll be far away, or there will be the heads of families in front of you, which may make it hard to capture the shot that you want. For the shot below of Father Christmas in the UK, we made sure that we got to the stage area about 25 minutes before to make sure that we had no one in front of us.
4. Tell the story.
Many of the storytellers have a prop that they use in their show, whether is be the shoe of Babette in the Pere Noel show in France, or the Nutcracker and Advent Calendar in the show with Helga in Germany. Pere Noel uses the shoe in a comedic fashion during the show, and then does a very Santa Claus-esque laugh when talking about it. Capturing that moment can help tell the story, and draw a connection from your viewer.
5. Go with the light.
Lastly, many of these storytelling shows happen right in the middle of the day. Typically, that means that the light isn’t always going to be the best. When that happens, it is best to just go with it. Take this shot of La Befana in Italy for example:
The sun was shining down directly behind her, since the showing we saw was around the 2:30 hour. So, I actually got down a little bit low, and aimed upward to capture the sun backlighting her. From there, when I went into Lightroom, I pushed the exposure up even further, and added a lot of contrast. That way, La Befana pops off of the screen. Obviously, these aren’t the ideal conditions to shoot in and capture these shows, but you work with what you have, and you can still be successful.
Hopefully you all enjoyed these photos and the tips that came along with them. Shooting the storytellers is a ton of fun, as well as just listening and enjoying the season. Hopefully, if you’re able to make it out to the park soon to see them, you’ll be able to use some of these tips to your advantage.
For those curious, every single shot here was taken with the Sony a7 and the Zeiss 55mm F1.8, which are both available at Amazon. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading!