Even though my oldest is only 3, I have quite a bit of experience taking small kids to see Santa. Partly for my blog post where I talk about what it’s like to take photos with Santa at different malls in Calgary and partly because I think it is just plain fun. My friends and family have kindly supplied me with some photos to round out my own to help you get better photos with Santa this year.
1. Prepare Your Kids Ahead of Time
Read your kids stories about Santa, show them movies with Santa (if you can find one with their favorite character, even better) and show your kids pictures of them or other family members with Santa to familiarize them.
Unless the photos looked like this.
It can also be worthwhile to seek out a Santa that is more natural looking and inline with their expectations.
If you wouldn’t sit on that lap, why would you put your child on it?
2. Dress for the Occasion
Even if you’re going to get a free photo, consider what your kids are wearing.
This shirt of Gordie’s is really cute, but doesn’t look great in a Christmas photo.
This may be going a little too far.
At the very least, take off your kids’ coats!
You may also want to consider what you’re wearing that day… just in case.
If you look closely you can see Santa at the back.
3. Use a Partner
Especially if you are taking the photos yourself, bring someone with you so they can help you position and distract the kids to help keep them from freaking out.
4. Try Backing In
If you have a really little kid, try holding them facing you and backing them into Santa, keeping their attention on you. Then back away and quickly take the picture.
5. Time it Right
Arrive a bit early so your kids can see Santa from a distance before it’s their turn. Make sure they are not tired or hungry. Bring a snack just in case. Weekday mornings and evenings are usually quieter time to visit. Whatever you do, don’t go when your child would normally be napping.
6. Give Them Some Moral Support
Having a friend, sibling or even a favorite toy may be all your kid needs to feel comfortable and stay focused.
7. Be Flexible
You may be able to get a better picture by not trying to force a smile.
You may also want to consider letting your kids stand beside Santa instead of on his lap.
Santa may be holding him back, but they are all in the picture.
8. Make use of Some Photography Tips
If you are taking the photo yourself, try setting the white balance to match the lighting (florescent or incandescent bulbs). Or you can adjust that on your computer afterwards.
If the room isn’t very bright, bump up the ISO and hold the camera steady (close to your body, try to kneel or set the camera on something to use as a makeshift tripod). Also double check that your camera is focusing on your child instead of the background.
Position yourself so you can see your child’s face even if they are not looking directly at you.
Candid shots often show your child at their best.
Don’t forget to take multiple pictures.
So this isn’t the only photo you go home with.
9. Try Again
If your child is hesitant to see Santa the first time, don’t be afraid to go back (again) later in the day or on another day all together.
10. If All Else Fails…
You can always take a family photo near Santa instead. Most malls have a Christmas display that would make a great backdrop.
This is the best ‘Santa’ photo this family has taken.
Or you could just take a picture of Santa!
Even if Santa looks a little confused.
11. Laugh it Off
Sometimes, even if you end up with a picture that wasn’t what you wanted, it can still end up being a treasured part of your family history.
As funny as some of these photos are, I hope this post helps your family get great photos with Santa this year. And if your pictures don’t go as planned you can always send them to me for next year’s post.
Have a Merry Christmas!
What are your tips for taking better photos with Santa?
If you have a not-so-good photo with Santa you’d like to share, you can e-mail it to email@example.com.
Are you from Calgary? Check out my website about the best indoor and outdoor places to take your kids –> http://www.calgaryplaygroundreview.com
Photos used with permission
This post is very useful and oh so funny!!
Thanks SamiJoe! I think it’s the best post I’ve written yet 🙂
I used to take Santa photos when I was in university. You hit all the points. Great article!
It looks like Santa’s photobombing a bad family picture at the end of point 2.
Great tips, Dana!
santa ken says
good advice. I have been a santa for twenty yrs and most of the comments are so true.Parents who want their kids to smile all the time just dont get it. I ahve over 200 pics that I kept and the best ones are the natural ones and the tonsil shots are so cute Mom and dad, once they get to five or six and know who santa is u will get great shots. Dont scare the kids too death