Thursday, November 17, 2016

How to get the BEST Santa Photo!

Santa has already started making his appearance in shopping centres around the country.  In Christmases past, I have been a photographer at one of the busiest Santa sets in SE QLD.  This means I have seen it all.

From over the top outfits, to spur of the moment photos.  Adult children having a photo to give to their parents, to mates having a laugh and workmates celebrating the holidays.

I love Santa photos.  For many reasons.  The main reason is it is a Tradition.  And you all know what I am like with traditions.

We have a "Santa" album exclusive for the Santa photos.

I have seen more tears and tantrums that you could imagine, but it doesn't have to be that way. 

Here are my tips to getting a picture perfect Santa photo!

1:  Prepare, prepare and prepare some more.  Some little children are not fond of Santa.  If I had a dollar for every parent that says "Well, we have taught them to not talk to strangers".  ::sigh::  Santa doesn't have to be a stranger.  At our set, we welcome children and parents to visit as many times as they like.  As soon as the silly season starts, everytime you walk past Santa, go in for a visit.

2003 - 21st December - Hayden's "First" Christmas photo - on his 1st birthday.
We were still in hospital on Christmas day for his "real" first Christmas!

When Joshua was about 2.5, he was quite frightened.  We walked past a number of times over the course of a couple of weeks and he wouldn't have a bar of it.  Finally, after a few "over the fence" high fives with Santa, one day he decided he wanted to line up for a visit.  When it was our turn, he walked in, turned around and walked straight back out again.  The next time, he was happy enough to approach Santa and give him a highfive.  The next time, a hand shake.  A few more times and we got a wonderful photo.

Don't give up.

2:  Do NOT make it a negative experience.  DO NOT under ANY circumstances force your child onto Santa.  Be prepared for your child to not like it.  Don't get disheartened or angry at your child because they don't want to do it.  It breaks my heart when I start hearing parents telling their child off for not siting with Santa, and it makes me very angry when they are smacking or abusing their child in front of me.  Try again another time.
3:  Make sure you choose the best time for your child.  It's a no-brainer to not go when your child is due for a nap or is in a bad mood.

4:  Take your time.  If you feel like you are being rushed by the set staff, ask politely if there is a quiet time that they recommend to come back.  During peak periods you obviously won't have the luxury of being able to ease your child in.  Even a very busy set has down times.  Come back when the staff have plenty of time to play and talk to your child to get them comfortable.

2008 - 23rd December (Oliver 4 days old!)

2008 - 14th December

5:  Suggest a different pose.  For some children, they are happy to sit in the chair without Santa.  At our set, I would suggest a "hide" photo.  We get the children to close their eyes (or distract them with toys) while Santa disappears.  They are then free to sit in Santa's chair while we take the photo.  They have no idea that Santa is actually "Peeking" from behind the chair on cue for the photo.    Some children are frightened of siting in his knee - so suggest they stand next to Santa, or maybe they would prefer to sit on the floor at Santa's feet.  As the staff if they have any suggestions suitable for their set.

6: Make it a family photo.  If you still haven't been able to manage to get one with the kids on their own, I suggest you frock up and have a lovely family photo.  Make it your tradition every year.  :)


7:  Go for a "Dump and Snap".  Sometimes, the ones with a crying baby are part of the "tradition".  If you are really set on getting a photo, but your child is not, ask the photographer to be ready... dump your child... snap a photo and quickly pick them up.  Be happy with whatever the photo looks like.  Crying?  Screaming?  Mid-air jumping off Santa?  Line them up in your album and remember how much they protested that year.  That said, know when to draw the line.  Don't make it terrifying.  A tear or a scream is one thing, but having a child shaking in absolute terror is not something you want to remember (or will they!)

8:  Finally - and my most passionate point is to remember that it is ONLY a Santa photo.  If after a few weeks of visits and high-fives and test runs your child is still totally terrified, please please do not force them.  It just isn't worth it.  It is just a Santa photo!

Do you get Santa photos?  How do you prep your Children?


  1. Oh I really love your santa album, where did you purchase this? Great tips

    1. Hi there. I purchased it from BigW about 7 years ago. I haven't seen one since. You could however use any album. Just have it designated for Santa photos!

  2. What a great post!
    I have santa photos of my kids every year from 1992. Some years have kids missing who refused to go near Santa, some have me in them, some have screaming kids. I love them all! My eldest drew the line after he turned 18 though so I don't have one with all 5 kids.

    I love your album, ours are together but loose, I must find an album for them.

    1. Thankfully, for now, the Reasons are still totally wrapped up in the illusion, however, they have been told that they are having photos until they are 21.

  3. Thanks for all the great tips Danielle :) Our little miss (3 nearly 4) has an aversion to anyone dressed up in costumes which includes footy mascots, halloween costumes with masks and unfortunately Santa. She will wave at him from a distance but normally from behind my legs.
    However, we have managed to get some great Santa pics by going a little drive to a great set up that will actually take the pic with just the kids sitting on the big man's chair with me and then they photoshop Santa in afterwards! It works a treat and people honestly don't believe me when I tell them that is how it was done, they do a fantastic job at it and we will be doing back again there this year.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours hun, K xx

  4. Another thing I found with the Under 1's is to do the "back up drop". Walk them up facing you, not Santa, hand them over whilst keeping their attention facing forward and then get the photographer to do their thing. It's worked for us!

  5. The Santa in our Myer we go to is awesome, if the kids don't like him he goes behind the chair and hides then when the photographer is ready to take the pic he comes behind so he is in the pic but the kids don't know :-)

    What are the best colours for kids clothing?

  6. I love this post! I did a summer of being a santa photographer too and had a ball. I think there is a certain age where kids start to really rely on facial recognition and expressions to judge situations and when they are at that age anyone with a big beard is a bit scary. I think that it's around 2 years old. Kids would just freak out! We use to distract them with dancing musical toys and bubbles - every kids loves bubbles and if they get in the photos it really does make it look just a little more magical. I can see why parents get frustrated, after having dressed their kids up so nicely for it all to go in a heap. But, it is a lovely tradition and I think you're right - one worth trying for with some introductions along the way.

  7. I love getting our annual Christmas photo! We put them all up on the wall and I love seeing how much all the kids grow throughout the year. Our son was born in late Nov which means this year is our 16th Santa photo, he was born 9weeks early and is so tiny in our arms and was only just out of the NICU when we got our photo so we were in it with him there was no way I was handing him over! So last year hubby and I got into the photo again with the kids it is a great photo. We will see in 15yrs time when he is 30 and our girls in their mid 20's if our family has grown to partners and grandchildren. I hope so.

  8. OMG!! This post is so cool!! I got to say, that I went on the total memory line adventure!! I have pretty much the same photos in my collection in my albums. For a moment had to look closer into your pics, to see if I recognize anyone!! Haha.. Thank you very much!! ... And yes, taking that perfect photo with a Santa... all I can say is Yup!!


I am a Mama of Five. A wife to one. I believe in documenting life using stories. I love telling you mine and would love to hear yours.

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