Interview with Misaël Leclercq, Manager Photographer team at Disneyland ParisPublished: October 14, 2020 / Last Updated: October 14, 2020 / By: Arvid Bux
Can you explain to us what is the role of the photography team in the parks?
First of all, you should know that when the Park opened in 1992, this team did not exist. It is only from July 15, 1995 that the Merchandise division was enriched with the arrival of 3 photographers, whose role was notably to immortalize the magical encounters between Disney Characters and guests. Over the following years, this team has continued to grow. In January 2018, the photography teams transitioned to the Entertainment division and grew even more from there.
Today, the team gathers between 80 and 120 photographers depending on the season, and our goal is to capture the memories of our guests. Our slogan is “We Capture Dreams and Happiness.” I am lucky to be surrounded by a talented team of photographers with various specialties such as sports, studios, wildlife and more. This allows us to be an all-terrain team and to be present in parks, but also in hotels and on events.
What is special about this team?
What we do at Disneyland Paris and in our other Disney parks exists almost nowhere else. The photos we take must be successful and of quality because they are directly transferred to the PhotoPass of our guests. Also, as our team is composed of many different talents, it also allows us to learn from each other. To give you a concrete example, Tina Malfilatre, who specializes in animal photography, has offered training to the other photographers of the team to share her know-how and help them acquire new skills. On a daily basis the photographers mainly take portrait photos, but with the arrival of events such as runDisney, a special training course was set up because taking a picture of a runner in motion has nothing to do with a photo of a guest posing next to his favorite character. Sharing know-how is therefore essential, and this is where knowledge like Tina’s can enrich the team’s skills.
How did you set up the new Magic Shots?
For the first season of The Lion King and the Jungle Festival, one of our photographers, Bart Mertens, offered us the opportunity to test the Magic Shots. This service is already available in Disney Parks in the U.S. and has been a great success. Magic Shots consist of interacting virtually with some of your favorite characters, and it is also possible to add exclusive Disney content to Disney PhotoPass photos: a magical souvenir guaranteed!
After this conclusive test, we realized a real teamwork between Entertainment, Walt Disney Imagineering, our U.S. counterparts, and of course the Imaging teams of the Merchandise division played a decisive role in the implementation of Magic Shots. This created a special bond between our different teams. In order to best meet the demand, we studied the locations where guests took the most pictures, then worked with Imagineering to tell a different story for each Magic Shot. So we are now present in iconic places such as Central Plaza and in front of the Walt Disney and Mickey statue at the exit of Studio 1 in Walt Disney Studios Park. This brand new service has been a real challenge for our team, but we adapted well and already received 70 compliments from guests since the reopening in July.
How did you adapt to Selfie Spots?
We were able to start work on Selfie Spots well before the reopening, thanks to the commitment of Cast Members such as Ombeline Chio, who contacted me during the confinement to volunteer. I was thus able to set up a small team to work on adapting the role of the photographers with the arrival of Selfie Spots.
Présidente of Disneyland Paris Natacha Rafalski visited the Photographers teams on September 29th
We thought about the best way to respect the health and safety measures while offering an unforgettable souvenir to our guests, for example at Starport where we used elements of scenery to maintain a safe distance between Darth Vader, the guests and the photographer. Now we are going further to be able to systematically load photos of Disney Characters on each PhotoPass so that despite the context, our guests will leave with their selfies and nice souvenir photos of Disney Characters, taken by our photographers.