Was it really worth getting kicked out of Disney?
I've been kicked out of many place in my 35 years of being a photographer, but one in particular stands out above all. It's no surprise that if you are inside one of Disney's theme parks, and you are making money at a photo session, Disney wants you to obtain a permit to do so. That permit will cost you money, and since I never purchased one I'm not exactly sure how hard they are to get or the cost for that matter. The question is, was it worth getting kicked out because I didn't have that said permit? You be the judge of that.
Now you're probably scratching your head and asking yourself, "Why on EARTH did you not purchase a permit if you knew you needed it to photograph professional pictures inside a Disney theme park?" I actually have a great answer for that question and thought it was genius at the time. In 2010 I had a couple come to me requesting a photo shoot for their engagement announcements and wanted to take their photos in two locations. The first location was Angel's Stadium in Anaheim, CA and the other was down the street at Disneyland. Since they were paying me for the session and they also had to rent out Angel's Stadium for an hour, there wasn't much room left in the budget to buy Disneyland entrance tickets AND a permit to shoot in the park. We settled on shooting in Downtown Disney and although I really didn't know what I would be working with, I figured my couple would love how budget-friendly it was and appreciate the photos because of that. Plus, we wouldn't need a permit at all since we were not "inside" the theme park. Little did I know that was not the case at all!
I really didn't want to draw attention to our little photo shoot because in the back of my mind I think I knew there was a slight chance we would get asked to leave if we looked too "professional". The fact that I had a company shirt on and a HUGE camera was probably a dead giveaway but, we tried to be as incognito as we could. I had them sitting on benches talking to each other like I wasn't even there and stroll down empty alleyways to give the illusion they had the whole place to themselves although the place was packed. I hid in bushes with my big old camera so as to not draw too much attention to myself and at one point one of the Disney "guest service" employees assisted us in crowd control so I could get a particular shot. I was pleasantly surprised when I found how helpful they were and even suggested my couple climb into a fountain for an unusual setting. We of course obliged at the employee's request and had an amazing time shooting in that particular area with the assistance of them. We let our guard down as we moved to different locations within Downtown Disney and had a lot of laughs shooting silly poses and just enjoying this experience now that we wouldn't get asked to leave. I took more photos than I usually would given the location and knew what I was capturing was gold. I was wishing every photo shoot was this rewarding and as we were wrapping up and getting ready to leave, I saw one last spot I HAD to have. It was a doorway that simulated a bank vault and it was screaming my couple's names!
Like a kid that just spotted Santa, I screamed for my couple to head towards the vault door and I started posing them in a dozen different poses. I guess my excitement was what ultimately did me in because it took no time for another guest service employee to approach us and ask for our permit. Apparently we were NOT in an area that allowed for professional photo shoots to occur and when I tried to explain that I was unaware we needed one to shoot in that area, he asked us to IMMEDIATELY vacate the premises or turn over my camera. Knowing I was done and had already captured a ton of amazing photos, I scurried towards the exit with a huge smile on my face feeling like I just conned a conman! My job was done, and it was done well. I was excited to go home and see the results. To this day I do not think I've achieved that same "high" shooting in a forbidden area.
As far as my couple was concerned, they were completely delighted with the photos we were able to get in the short time we spent downtown. Disney holds a special place in their hearts because they are season ticket holders and have been for many years. They now have two kiddos and I'm sure take many family photos inside the park these days. Ten years ago I was asked to leave but the memories I got from that photo shoot can never be taken from me. I work well under pressure and I got the photos to prove it. I look forward to my next "RUSH" so if you have any suggestions please comment below. I'm always open to new adventures and the thrill of the chase. Thank you for stopping by.