There are more pictures taken at the Walt Disney World parks and resorts worldwide than at any other vacation spot in the world. Millions of pictures a year are snapped at the “Happiest Place on Earth” and this is not counting the pictures taken by Disney’s own Photopass photographers’. With the advent of digital photography, only a little more than 30 years after the invention of the original CCD sensor, pictures that were once only the domain of professional photographers equipped with high-end camera gear are now possible for the vacationer with a simple point-and-shoot digital camera. No one knows this more than master lens man Tim Devine.
Tim, who is a staple in the Disney Community, has been taking professional pictures of Walt Disney World since 2004 and is the owner and webmaster of “Themagicinpixels” website, dedicated to amateur and professional photographers alike. In addition to being a place for all things photography, Tim’s site has amassed thousands of stunning pictures…The center subject, Walt Disney World. But before we look into Tim’s site in detail, the DisneyDrivenLife was graciously granted an interview with this talented young man, so without further ado, here is Tim Devine…
DD: Thank you for your time
TD: My pleasure.
DDL: Where were you born?
TD: I was born in Atlantic City New Jersey, but I grew up in Brigantine, New Jersey. I’m presently still living in the South Jersey area.
DDL: Do you have any siblings?
TD: I have one brother who is three years younger.
DDL: Were you always a Disney fan?
TD: Our family made its first Disney trip, Mom, Dad, Brother, me, and Grandma and Grandpa in 1985. I was about eight years old. We stayed off-property for five days at the now-gone Wilson World in Kissimmee and the only park we went to was the Magic Kingdom. We went again in 1988 for about a week, again staying at Wilson World. My first time on property was with my then-girlfriend, now-wife, Karen, in 2003, at Coronado Springs.
DDL: Did you like Disney before the trip?
TD: I was always a Mickey Mouse fan! I loved watching the Mickey cartoons. I even had a Mickey Mouse stuffed toy I went to bed with. My mom made me a Mickey Mouse latch hook that I hung on the wall of my bedroom. Yeah, at that time, I was not aware about the company or history, just Mickey.
DDL: Did you parents support your love of Mickey Mouse?
TD: Well, I did not have every Mickey Mouse toy, but they did buy me Mickey video tapes to watch, yes. But believe it or not, at that time, my dad and I were even bigger Star Wars fans.
DDL: Your website is all photography. When did your interest in photography begin?
TD: When I was 10 or 11, my grandparents bought me a cheap 35mm camera just to mess around with. I enjoyed playing with it, but back then, you had to buy film and develop it, so it was pretty expensive for a kid. At that time, it was a novelty. I didn’t really develop a love, or fascination for cameras, probably until end of 2001 or early 2002. I spent about $300 on my first digital camera, a 1.3 megapixel Sony Cybershot. I was about 25 years old at the time.
DDL: Where did you learn about photography?
TD: The majority of what I learned was from researching and reading on the internet. But I received a lot of on the job training from the Olympic Photography Studio (Northfield, NJ), the same people who photographed my wedding. I had asked them many questions before and during the wedding, gaining much insight. Before the honeymoon, I purchased a much better (at the time) camera and used many of their tips and tricks for our honeymoon pictures. When I returned, I showed them the pictures, and they were so impressed they offered me a trainee job on the spot. That is where I learned the professional side, from guys in the business for over 40 years.
DDL: How many years have you been a professional photographer?
TD: I have worked with Olympic Photography since the return from my honeymoon. My first professional photo job was Sept. 11, 2004
DDL: Your website, “Themagicinpixels” is not only dedicated to photography, but the majority of pictures are Disney. When did you start the site?
TD: The site started out as a blog in 2005. On a trip to San Diego to visit my Aunt, her friend, a talented painter and sculptor, showed me his blog. At the time, I knew nothing about blogging. He showed me how he took pictures of his work, posted it and sold it on the internet. He showed me the basics, and I decided to do one myself. I did this just to showcase a Disney picture or two; I thought they were pretty good. This was the time the Disney on-line community was starting to pick up, but most of it was trip planning, no one was doing photography.
DDL: So, it started out as a blog, when did the actual site begin?
TD: It went live in a very rudimentary form, just before the Magic Meets began, in the summer of 2006. It was when I first coined the name and formed the first generation of “Themagicinpixels”.
DDL: Is the site a free or pay site?
TD: It’s free for everybody. There are tons and tons of content, there are discussion forums, you can ask questions, post pictures, make comments. There are photo galleries with thousands and thousands of Disney pictures; anyone can look at without any cost.
DDL: Do have to join, or sign up?
TD: If you want to post on the forums, yes. There is no cost to join. And you do not have to sign up to look around.
DDL: Are the pictures all Disney?
TD: I would say its 98 percent Disney and 2 percent generalized photography.
DDL” And that is because of your love for Disney?
TD: Absolutely. I always loved the Magic Kingdom. When I was younger, high school age, I would spend the summers with my grandparents in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, and several times we would head over to Walt Disney World for one day, and I always went to the Magic Kingdom.
DDL: Can people write in with questions and advice on photography?
TD: Absolutely, absolutely. I welcome nothing more than questions, I love to answer fans emails and give advice. I love to discuss photography.
DDL: Do you answer every email, or correspondence?
TD: Sometimes it’s difficult, but I sure try to! It may take a few days, but I will get to them. If people are good enough to write in, I make sure I respond.
DDL: The site is for all skill levels, not just professionals
TD: We welcome everybody! From pros with professional equipment to folks with cell phone cameras. Everyone is welcome
DDL: What are the most common questions you get on the site?
TD: I’m thinking of buying a camera, what type do you recommend? Or how do I take better pictures?, and many ask How do I take night shots?
DDL: How many trips do you make to Walt Disney World a year?
TD: I average about three or four.
DDL: What do you focus on when you get here?
TD: Having fun with my family. Any pictures I can take are just icing on the cake, but my family always comes first.
DDL: Tell us about your “Pixelmania” meets at Walt Disney World
TD: I started Pixelmania as a replacement for the popular “Mousefest”® fan gathering during Christmas time. At these gatherings, I always hosted meets centering on photography, they were well received and attended. When Mousefest® ceased, the members of my site and I decided to meet around the same time and do our own meets under our own banner, hence the Pixelmania name was coined. We began making four-day trips where we could enjoy our hobby of Disney photography with like-minded fans. All we cared about was taking pictures and having fun, so there was no stress, or pressure or time constraints.
DDL: How often are the Pixelmania meets held?
TD: Once a year
DDL: All information on the meets is on your website?
TD: Yes. Either on Magicinpixels.com or Pixelmania.US
DDL: How do you think photography has changed over the last 30 years?
TD: It ’s been revolutionized. Thirty years ago cameras were manual focused, manual aperture settings, very little automated features and they were completely film based. Years ago, you could only load your camera with a pre-set film speed, there were no changing setting on the fly. With digital, you can change all settings on the fly to meet any conditions. Plus with all the automated features, like shutter speed, film speed, even the novice will have great shots without all the limitations of film cameras. Not to mention that you get instant feedback and gratification as opposed to having to wait for film to be developed and hoping you didn’t blow your important shots.
DDL: Is there any advantage of film over digital?
TD: Basically just for traditionalists or purists.
DDL: So can amateurs take great shots like yours, with basic equipment or do they need expensive pro cameras and lenses like you have?
TD: Equipment absolutely matters, no doubt in my mind, but most of taking a picture is knowledge. For example, the great photographer Ansel Adams took some of the most beautiful landscape shots ever created, using 1930’s and 1940’s technology and equipment.
DDL: What equipment do you recommend for taking quality pictures, or at least middle-of-the-road shots?
TD: I would always recommend an entry-level SLR (Single lens reflex) camera with interchangeable lenses. These cameras do not cost much more than a high-end point and shoot digital camera.
DDL: There is more to taking a picture than snapping the shutter. What’s your advice on taking a great shot?
TD: Knowing how to compose a shot, you have two-thirds of the battle won. Even a well-lit and well-exposed shot that is poorly composed will look just that, poorly composed.
DDL: What do you mean by “Composed”?
TD: Composed means how you set up the shot in the viewfinder, how you line it up. Using what is called the “Rule of Thirds”, you don’t always want your subject dead in the middle of the shot, but you want other aspects in the scene to interact for a more interesting shot. You can get all the detailed information about this on the website.
DDL: What equipment do you use?
TD: My camera is a Canon 1D mark four. It’s Canon’s current professional top-of-the-line body.
DDL: Can an amateur learn to us this kind of equipment?
TD…An amateur with a little experience would have no problem. You have to start out with basic equipment, but don’t be afraid to push the buttons and don’t be afraid to experiment, with digital, you can shoot all day and just delete the shots, until you like what you see. Most important is you have to read the instruction manual with the equipment. And never, ever be afraid to ask questions and research the internet. Remember, if you are afraid to fail, you are probably going to.
DDL: What are some of your favorite Walt Disney World pictures that you shot?
TD: That’s a hard question, I’ve taken thousands of pictures, but I love taking pictures of Cinderella Castle at night. I had a nighttime and early morning pictures of Spaceship Earth. Using Photoshop, I made one side nighttime and the other sunrise, and it blended seamlessly into one shot, it is one of my favorite pictures. But my all-time favorite is a shot of downtown Main St. USA of Cinderella Castle very late at night with the Christmas Dream lights with absolutely no one in the shot, it’s a pristine shot.
DDL: What are some of the hardest photos to take?
TD: One of the hardest attractions to photograph is Peter Pan’s Flight. Because of the darkness, and the fact you are zigzagging and moving quickly and the colors are lit up with ultraviolet black light, it’s hard for the camera to auto-focus on anything, so you have to be spot-on with manual focus. Also shooting fireworks, because it requires the most technical knowledge, and patience.
DDL: Tell us about your picture library on the site. Can fans order pictures?
TD: Yes, certain ones in a special section. But it does not cost anything to browse through the thousands of shots. I do get special requests for prints and I am happy to try to accommodate, but I never do pictures with characters or performers, certain shots are off-limits. All this information is on my site.
DDL: Are there any rules for your forums?
TD: The only rule is never to talk down to anyone or try to big-time any members. We all started out as novices. No one on my forums has to worry about being ridiculed or being made fun of. No question is a stupid one, I will not tolerate that kind of behavior.
DDL: What do you think of the future of photography?
TD…With digital, they are now making cameras that shoot in 3D, right out of the box. Another trend is HDR, or High Dynamic range, by using software you combine three or more exposures, so your detail on your shot is more enhanced. There are now SLR cameras that are mirror-less, with no moving parts. It’s amazing what the designers are coming up with all the time.
DDL: Tim, thanks so much for all this wonderful information and for your time.
TD: It was my pleasure!
It’s nice to know that Photography and Disney lovers have a common place to meet and bond. Just log on to…http://www. Themagicinpixels.com or email Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tim lives in South Jersey with his wife Karen and sons Billy 6yrs and Ryan 2. He still makes multiple trips to the World with his family and on photo-seeking sessions. I have attended Tim’s Pixelmania meet last December and it was informative, fun and best of all, laid back. Tim even had a surprise for his guests, none other than Disney Historian Jim Korkis who made the whole meet memorable. Looking forward to this years’ meet, scheduled for December 6-9, 2012! I have uploaded some wonderful examples of Tim’s work, as you can see, he is one heck of a photographer!