Tips for Better Santa Photos

Written by a professional photographer & mom to 5

Santa pictures are a weird thing, some kids love them, some kids hate them.. but either way, they do bring a little bit of joy for us parents, right? I have always been lucky with Santa photos, our kids never did the freak out and cry bit… which honestly, I’m a little sad about. Maybe we’ll have that next year with the twins 😉 Some parents might not find the Santa freak out all that entertaining, especially if their child doesn’t sit well during regular family photos. I wanted to write a post to help get better Santa photos for parents who really want that perfect shot.

Before we jump into the tips, I want to mention that when it comes to these types of photos, you almost always have to be happy with what you get and unless you’re going to a custom photographer.. the staff will consist of a button pusher, a helper and a Santa. None of these people are responsible for photos with a perfect outcome, their job is just to provide a picture, the rest is mainly up to us as parents. That leads us to…

Tip #1: Find a Custom Portrait Photographer

A lot of the photographers that I grew up following will offer custom mini sessions with Santa. The best thing about doing a session this way is the amount of time that you’ll receive. Obviously, the photographers wants your return business or wants you to buy their prints so they will do their very best to get that smiling picture with Santa.
– Some photographers will even provide a suit, in these cases the parents will want to bring grandpa along to pose as Santa in the suit which helps the child to feel more comfortable.

Tip #2 Sample a Santa

There are a few different places who offer free Santa sessions. I like to visit my local Cabela’s Store. I’ve been going there since 2009 and love that they offer this fun event around the holidays. Think of the free photo as a trial run, to see how your child reacts to Santa and being away from you and in a stranger’s arms. If the photo there turns out great, well awesome! You’re done… until next year.

Tip #3 Treat it Like a Typical Photo Shoot

Follow all of those rules; make sure everyone is changed and happy, don’t schedule the pictures right after vaccinations or anything else traumatic if you can, make sure the little ones are comfortable in their clothes.

Tip #4 Bribe.

I don’t like to bribe my children I do as best I can without it – however, Santa almost always has candy canes so don’t be afraid to ask for one before the photos and allow your baby or child to have it during the photos (even if it’s unopened.) Think of it as a prop! If your child isn’t interested in candy, think about bringing a toy or stuffy that matches the Christmas theme for them to hold during the photos.

Tip #5 Watch Santa Movies

This is a great way for your children to become acquainted with Santa, without having to actually interact quite yet.

Tip #6 See Santa at the Mall Prior to the Photos
Show your child who Santa is, ask if they want to say hello and allow your child to see him interacting with the other children.

Tip #7 Don’t Worry, it Gets Better

I know that some parents can become disappointed when their child doesn’t appear happy with Santa.. but crying or mad photos are funny and show the other emotions that we have. Next year, they’ll know who Santa is and might even be eager to visit with him.

About the author…

Hi! Thank you for reading my blog posts, I’m a mother of five with twin boys set to arrive very soon! My days as a photographer began in Southern California where my friends and I had walls full of photos printed from our adventures. I currently shoot with a Canon 5D Mark IV but for the last 5 years I have used a Canon 70D Crop Sensor DSLR because it’s the person who makes a good photographer, not the equipment. I strive to document life as it is, to #sustainchildhood is my ultimate goal for you and for me. If you’ve found my article interesting or helpful, please consider sharing this page and using the hashtag #sustainchildhood so that I can see your work!


Photographer & Blogger, The Black and White Blog Co