Photos with Santa are a Christmas tradition in many households including my own. Some years the pictures turn out great and sometimes they don’t. This post is an illustrated guide to getting the best photos with Santa you can every year. My friends and family have kindly supplied me with some photos to round out my own to both make you laugh and 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
This child is not buying this historical Santa
This skinny Santa is not going over well
2. Dress for the Occasion
Even if you’re going to get a free photo, consider what your kids are wearing.
Cute shirt but not for this photo
And don’t forget to consider what they are wearing on their feet.
This may be taking things a little too far
At the very least take off their 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.
Not even paying attention to who is behind her
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.
Sometimes this works
Sometimes not so much
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.
Not the best time
Although sometimes that can turn out pretty cute
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.
Worked like a charm
But sometimes it doesn’t help at all
7. Be Flexible
You may be able to get a better picture by not trying to force a smile.
That is a pretty cute pout.
He looks cutely unsure in this picture instead of full on bawling
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.
Was 1982 really this yellow?
If the room isn’t very bright, bump up the ISO and hold the camera steady (hold it 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.
That tree looks great!
Holding your camera straight can also be a good strategy
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
Sometimes you can get a lovely shot even if you can’t see their face
Don’t forget to take multiple pictures.
So this is not the only one you end up 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.
The first try
Again after lunch
The first day
Okay, it doesn’t always work
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 was the best ‘Santa’ photo this family had ever taken
You can even use your tree at home
Or you could just take a picture of Santa!
Even if Santa seems a bit 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.
There are so many things ‘wrong’ with this photo but I love it
That year’s Christmas card
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!
All Photos used with permission