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Holiday Photoshoots: The Ultimate Guide to Offering Santa Pictures

Santa Picture Mini Sessions have become a HUGE need since the pandemic. Because going to the mall was not an option, many families opted for a more private, luxury Santa experience and now--there is no going back to mall lines and fake beards!

4 Tips to Creating A Perfect Christmas Photoshoot Experience

I have been shooting Santa Experience sessions for 7 years and offering them to my clients in a 10-minute slot for 3 of those! That means I have shot over 500 Santa Mini Sessions and you can best believe I have learned a thing or two that I cannot wait to share with you.

Continue reading below for my best tips on creating the perfect Santa picture holiday photoshoot experience.

Boy sits on a rug during a Christmas photoshoot featuring Santa

A bit of background:

In my photography business, Santa sessions are a client experience booster. I only offer my Santa Experience Mini Sessions to existing or repeat clients. If this is your first or second year offering Santa Sessions, I would not recommend this strategy.

Keep in mind that Santa sessions are a long-game and you will see growth year to year. Your first year of offering Santa pictures is usually slower. For reference, I am just wrapping up my third year of Santa Minis and booked nearly 150 in 2023!

Now, on to the tips!

Tip #1: Set Yourself Apart

A luxury Santa experience with a photographer is obviously going to be more expensive to your client than a mall Santa Experience. For reference, a mall Santa photo is typically $25-50, depending your area. Highlight the differences between your experience and the alternative to prospective clients.

I like to outline how there is no waiting in a line, no overstimulating mall lights/music, and more importantly--you get far more than just the one photo. I know that my experience is far superior to any mall and it is catered to be kid/sensory friendly.

My Santa experience grows more extravagant each year to become more and more magical and my clients LOVE this.

Tip #2: Hire a PRO Santa for Santa Pictures

Not all Santas are the same. Take your time to research (Google) professional Santas in your area. I even booked my Santa for my own children before I ever considered bringing him to my clients.

A true professional Santa will range from $150-$300/hr. He will be worth every penny! My Santa and I have a full routine that allows me to completely step back and just let HIM do his thing of telling stories, playing games, and getting the best authentic reactions and expressions. I just take the pretty pictures.

I like to avoid Santas that other photographers close to me use because I want this to be another differentiating factor! Everyone agrees mine is most certainly the real deal.

If you are having a hard time finding a Santa, you can also look on websites like where professional Santas are organized by location.

Tip #3: Start Slow

Like I said, Santa Minis are a LONG GAME. You will slowly book more and more as your experience gains exposure from your clients' friends and family.

I would start by only offering 8-12 Santa Mini spots and then plan to double each year. I had a large client base when I started offering Santa (over 1000 clients) and they had already seen pictures of my kids with this Santa for YEARS, so they were primed and knew they wanted this! I

f you have never done Santa, do not be discouraged if the first year is slow. It is par for the course!

Tip #4: Prep, Prep, PREP!

While Santa does most of the heavy lifting, I do make sure I still have an organized shot list in my head! I like to get the classic pulled-back smiling at the camera shot, close ups of kids talking (or looking at) Santa, as well as any fun moments that Santa sparks.

For families with more than one child, I like to get each child with Santa individually as well as all siblings together. Many of my clients even bring cousins to share a session with. I encourage this and LOVE capturing those sweet moments for the grandparents.

It also helps to prepare your clients with what to expect and how to best prepare their children. I send out my Santa Experience Prep Guide to all my Santa clients and it makes a HUGE difference in kids really enjoying their time with the Big Guy!

You can download my Prep Guide absolutely FREE below. This is a Canva Template so you can customize it to fully reflect your own branding.

Frequently Asked Questions

On our Instagram a couple weeks ago, I asked what YOUR questions were about offering Santa Sessions. Below are the answers!

CapABLE Member Codi of Codi Rae Photography said "I struggled to find a Santa that fit my vision and expectations for Santa."

Like I mentioned, finding a good Santa is the most important and likely hardest part. Google search like crazy and don't be afraid to call your prospects. When I called my Santa and he immediately answered with "Ho! Ho! Ho!" I knew he was the right guy for me!

CapABLE Member Kristie of Spoken For Photography asked: "What if I book Santa and no one signs up for them?! I feel like most of my clients have older children, too..."

This is why I recommend only opening a handful of spots for your first Santa year. You can also validate the idea with your clients in social media story polls. I would say 80% of my Santa clients have at least one child under the age of 6. There are a solid 20% who only have children 7+ and still come see Santa!

CapABLE Member Catherine of Catherine Chamberlain Photography asked: "What are a couple pieces of advice you could share when offering Santa Minis? I am doing them for the first time in a week!"

Go in with an open mind! I like to get those "big" shots, but I really have no other expectations and just want to capture the magic of Santa being Santa for the kiddos. For criers (typically the 1-2 year-olds) you can have them sit in Santa's chair and Santa can hide. Then stand behind them (see below.) This is a good way to get a non-crier shot. I personally like a good crier (I have one of those kids myself!)

Kids smile happily while taking festive Santa pictures

I cannot wait to see what Santa Minis do for your business!

Please feel free to ask any questions below and do not forget to download your FREE Client Santa Prep Guide! It makes all the difference!

All my best,

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