So, you’re heading to Disney soon and plan on taking lots of photos to remember the trip. How do you plan on preserving those images and memories? Do you have a printing or photo book plan?
Here’s how I get all those photos off my phone and combine them with each day’s itinerary, attractions we enjoyed, food we ate, and some journaling about special moments to tell the whole story of the vacation with a beautiful, high-quality Disney trip photo album. I’ll also be sharing my best tips for taking photos in the parks so that the photo book contains real captured memories and not just posed images with cheesy smiles in front of park icons (though there are always a few of those, too!).
Even after so many trips, a Disney World vacation is still a big deal for my family so I’m prepared to put a little more time and create a quality album for a quality vacation. The reward is that my kids love flipping through the albums! They often pull the older albums off the bookshelves, inevitably saying, “I forgot about that!” Bingo. That’s the reason I do this!
The whole process starts before the trip…
Have A Plan BEFORE You Leave
Before we leave on our Disney trip, I have my album creation plan prepared so I’m ready to dive right in when we return home. The page templates are ready so I just have to add photos and text.
Most book publishers will offer page building software. If you choose this option, browse the themes and make a selection now to save time later. Get familiar with the sizes and orientations of the photos that your chosen theme supports. That will help guide you as you take photos on the trip. My favorite printer is Adoramapix and their Creative Builder is very user-friendly with clean, quality templates.
I build my pages using both the Project Life app and custom Photoshop templates. Never heard of the Project Life app? It’s free in the app store and is the best way to create quality photo book pages quickly, especially if you mostly take photos with your phone. That said, I’m a long-time Photoshop user and love the complete control it provides so I use custom Photoshop templates most of the time (contact me if you’re interested in my templates!).
Either way, both options result in 12×12” square pages, usually with a combination of horizontal 4×6” and vertical 3×4” photo spaces with plain white background and no Disney graphics or embellishments. It’s my personal preference to keep the pages clean and let the photos and words tell the story without extraneous graphics cluttering the page.
Shoot Real Moments
Now, let’s get into some tips for taking photos while the vacation is underway.
Do you want your album to be full of photos of your kids looking at the camera with a different landmark behind them every time? Or do you want more snapshots of your kids enjoying themselves and being in the moment? I’m always looking for those real moments to shoot, the ones there the kids are laughing at the Jungle Cruise skipper’s punny jokes or giggling with their favorite character.
I always have my “real camera” in the park backpack, but my iPhone is always in my hand when we’re in the parks. It’s always ready to capture those fleeting real moments, those natural laughs, and those moments that are gone within seconds. THOSE are the memories I want to capture.
Sure, we may stop for one or two PhotoPass photos a day, but I don’t want the majority of the trip album to just be photos of us cheesing it up for the camera. I want to remember how we felt being there and capture those real moments. Are all of these photos perfectly framed and Instagram-worthy? Definitely not. But they convey the true emotions and feelings of the day and that’s most important to me.
Don’t Take Too Many Photos
This sounds counterproductive, but it’s not at all. Just remember that every photo you take is one you’ll see again when you’re culling photos for the album. The more you take, the more you’ll have to sift through when the trip is over. I alleviate this problem a bit by reviewing the photos each night in the hotel room, deleting the blurry ones and near-duplicates.
If you know that life is going to be back in full swing the moment you return home and finding any time to finish this album is going to be a challenge, sifting through hundreds of photos is only going to seem overwhelming and you may be hesitant to even begin. The goal is to actually finish a trip album as stress-free as possible so you need to make that as easy as possible for your post-trip self! If that means taking less photos, then so be it. Maybe you’ll miss moments. That’s OK. Because you have plenty of others. Document those missed images in words instead. And you’ll still have plenty of images to remember the trip by.
Remember those templates I prepared before we even left for Florida? They mostly use horizontal photos so most shot I take at Disney are shot at landscape orientation. There are definitely times that a certain shot needs to be vertical (Cinderella Castle is quite tall, after all!), but taking the majority of photos with the same orientation makes adding them to the templates so much faster! If there was a mix of photo orientations, I’d need additional templates and planning those would take more time … well, it’s just easier to shoot landscape as a rule!
The templates often include 3×4 vertical spaces and it’s easier to crop most horizontal photos to fit vertically than vice versa.
Maybe your templates are the opposite with more vertical photos or maybe they’re mostly square. Just remember those template pages you picked and if they affect the way you hold your camera while you’re snapping those real moments of the kiddos!
Snap Signs and Food
I mentioned capturing our daily itinerary, but that always changes from the original plan (I “plan to be flexible” at Disney World!) so my trip planning documents never accurately reflect how each day actually unfolds. Since my phone is always in my hand, I quickly snap the sign as we approach each attraction. The purpose is to just get a timestamp for the itinerary, not to even necessarily be good enough to include in the album. I usually don’t even stop walking and just hold my phone chest-high to take it. I just need a timestamp so that I can go back through the photos later and pull out the itinerary.
Food photos are also a necessity. Again, they might not all make it to the album, but they help jog my memory of where and what we ate every day. Whenever possible, I like to get photos of the food with the location sign, especially festival signs where pricing is included. Disney food photos are always interesting for posterity because menus and prices are always changing so it’s fun to go back 10 and 20 years later to see what we ate!
Screenshot those FastPasses
After we use up our three reserved FastPasses, I always screen capture the additional ones we make using the My Disney Experience app. Not only does this make retrieving the information easier than going back into MDE if we forget and what time was that FastPass again?, but I like having technology screenshots in my albums as another way to document the trip.
It wasn’t long ago that we all used paper FastPasses at Disney World and who knows how much longer FastPass+ will be used or when the interface will change significantly again. It’s fun to document the technology of today, especially when it will very likely change soon. This goes for other uses of My Disney Experience as well including mobile ordering and even just taking a screen shot of the weather app each day.
Back Home … Create the Album!
Since I culled my photos every night of the trip, I’m ready to drop photos into the page templates when I’m back home. This can still take a few night’s work, but the finished product is worth the additional time.
I pull images from all of the sources onto my computer and arrange them in folders by day. My albums are always chronological. The Day 1 folder will have my iPhone pictures and screen captures, camera photos, and PhotoPass photos all together so I can tell the story of that day.
After documenting each day’s itinerary from those sign pictures, noting where we ate, and building out every page with photos and words, the pages are ready to be sent to the printer.
I’ve tried several online book publishers, but none of them match the quality of Adoramapix. I print 12″x12″ albums on luster finish paper. The resulting album is pages of actual photographic prints in a lay-flat album. The color is the truest I’ve seen. I know that the color I see on my computer screen is going to be the color that is delivered to me. So many other books are returned too dark or just … off, but never with Adoramapix. They also have amazing customer service and shipping. I usually have my custom photo book in my hands just a week after pressing that “submit order” button on the website.
We don’t spend a lot of money on Disney souvenirs and I consider the trip album to be the best souvenir of the trip. Twenty years from now I’m going to still be enjoying the trip photo album while that spirit jersey is long out of style!
above – LOVE the lay-flat design of Adoramapix albums!
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