Though we all know that Disney's various theme parks have a magical quality to them, few have been able to capture it like Matt Pasant. As a father and a professional working in sales at a global software company in the US, Pasant is one of those people who doesn't take pictures as his full-time job, he does it for the love of photography. Completely self-taught, he's flirted with the idea of studying it formally but found that he could learn a great deal just be reading books and blogs, listening to podcasts and being involved in online communities. Most of all, he's developed his style through good 'ol trial and error.
Pasant sees Disney's parks as a "photographer's paradise" because it offers a place to experiment. It's "where you can shoot wide, tight, macro, portrait, family, landscape, day, night, HDR, fireworks, etc." But, to him, all of that is meaningless unless it is rooted in story. "Whenever someone clicks onto one of my pictures I first want to have the technical qualities that put the viewers at ease and then connect with the frame that takes them back to family trips, memories of the past, or their passion for the company. I hope that is found in every frame I make."
We got in touch with this very talented photographer to ask him more about his passion. He was kind enough to give us some great tips on shooting fireworks and creating HDR photos. Read that interview, below.
How long have you been photographing for?
I have been into photography for four years. I have had point and shoots before but was never able to do much with them so I picked up a Canon Rebel XT and kit lens think that all you had to have was an SLR and zoom lens to take great pictures, the camera just needed me to point and shoot it, big mistake. So I began a journey to improve my photography.
Can you give us some tips on how to capture firework photos?
Fireworks photography is actually pretty simple, it boils down to location, equipment, settings.
1) Location - Understand your position relative to the fireworks show. I tend to scope out my landscapes for fireworks shots to find the best foreground that will add the dramatic element to the frame. If I have not yet shot a specific fireworks show then I will research the location, looking through websites to put myself in a good position to have a nice over all frame.
2) Equipment - The basics are a camera, a tripod, and a shutter release. Firework photography can be achieved with just about any SLR camera. The tripod and shutter release do most of the work in fireworks photography so that you can extend out the exposure and minimize camera shake.
3) Setting - I tend to shoot in Bulb mode at F16-F22, ISO 100 with an exposure between 3 to 30 seconds. I listen closely for the launch of the shell and will hold down the release until after the burst of the shell to achieve the maximum effect.
Can you also give us some of your tips on how to create HDR photos?
I have been infatuated with HDR since I have come to know it as a form of photography and processing. From a technical level, I will bracket between five and seven exposures, which I find brings in the finer details that makes HDR effective very well. Much like fireworks, bring your tripod and shutter release to eliminate any potential camera shake. And from a processing perspective, I look the to masters such as Trey Ratcliff or Scott Kelby.
I think HDR done well works when it serves the story you are telling in your frame. A lot of my work posted to date has been in the Disney parks, the place is a playground for HDR with its textures, buildings, and colors. But level you frame in the story, dial in your shot, and then in post processing balance the temptation to do something "cool" with something "compelling."
You have a way of truly capturing the magic of Disney. Has the company reached out to you?
Thank you. No, I have not been contact directly by Disney yet. I have been contacted by a few publications such as Frommer's and The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World who have published a few shots of mine work but I have yet to hear from the mouse himself.
Can you tell us which photo is your favorite and tell us the story behind it?
I think the standard answer from most photographers is that their favorite picture is the one you have yet to make and there is some truth to that as it keeps you motivated to pick up your equipment.
That said my current favorite picture is one I recently captured of our daughter at Walt Disney World that simply melts my heart (pictured above). As I stood behind her and saw her amazement in her eyes and actions while looking through the aquarium glass I got down to her level and snapped away. Magic happened. She was beautifully light by the aquarium. She had her doll "puppy' clutched in her hand. Leaning out looking at the fish swim by. Pure innocence, amazement, and wonder of a two year old. She is going to grow up an be a teenage in a breath of time but I have this moment frozen forever. Moments such as those are why cameras were invented.
If you could, would you take up photography as your full-time job?
Absolutely. I never have more fun then when I am behind the viewfinder and sharing my vision with people. I am on a contestant pursuit to learn more, shoot more, do more. I am humbled when people want to purchase a photograph or put it in a publication. I would have never thought either would happen when I picked up my first camera.
Thank you so much for the interview, Matt. Next stop, Disneyland!
Matt Pasant's Website
via [Laughing Squid