‘Tis the season to be jolly… I think.

On December 12, 2012 by Simon Fleming

It’s that crazy time of the year once again, where everyone slowly but surely begins to go a little (or a lot) stir crazy. I am no exception, and tend to have both feet firmly planted in ‘the lot’ category – why else would I be writing a blog post at midnight when I desperately need to catch up on sleep…?

Amongst everything thing else I cram in to December, I shoot a number of Father Christmas photo sessions in the Hub Shopping Centre where the store I co-own and work in – the Hub Photo Shop – is located. This has become a bit of a tradition over the years that is far more of a ‘community service’ than a profitable venture. There has never really been anything on offer in the centre, or anywhere else near by for that matter, so the only choice for many in our local community wanting Father Christmas photos (or even just a Father Christmas to visit) has been to brave the bigger shopping centre setups – a pretty daunting experience at the best of times. So, a number of years ago my business partner and I decided to approach the owners of the centre and offer to run something ourselves – nothing fancy, as we have no budget for that, but a simple setup utilising my equipment and experience to provide high quality images that you wont get anywhere else, for a nominal fee. Nominal equals enough to cover our costs including hiring a Santa, and hopefully get us some Christmas beers to celebrate surviving December.

I could never do this sort of shooting full time – it just isn’t my thing – but having said that I genuinely don’t mind the short sessions once a year, and really strive to give everyone, children & parents, a great experience and a picture they will cherish. It is a really great feeling watching a lot of the kids meeting Santa for the first time, and telling him how good they have been (definitely a few white lies going on there in many cases I’m sure) and what they would like for Christmas. I feel genuinely proud too when I nail the shot and produce something special for the mums & dads that I know will become a part of their family album and history.

I also look upon it as a chance to try out new things. I know what you’re thinking, what on earth can you do with a Father Christmas photo setup? Well not too much with the ‘kiddie’ pics but in between those I took the opportunity to shoot a bit of a personal project – which was to grab a number of other tenants or regular characters in the centre and shoot a B&W themed Father Christmas series… good idea? Not sure but I am happy with a number of images I managed to get, and it did create a bit of a talking point which may lead to some other jobs in the near future… plus, and most importantly, it was a lot of fun.

Here are a few of my favourites

All of these were shot whilst I had a break in the kiddie traffic. I would quickly grab whoever I could for 30 seconds at the most, adjust the lighting to suit the change in posture/composition and shoot half a dozen frames. The lighting for all the shots used a 69 inch Octa for the main and a 12×36 inch strip with the diffuser removed as the hair/rim light – shot on a blue muslin backdrop. I’m really not a fan of muslin backdrops but in this case the blue seems to resonate well with Santa’s red suit, and the overall feel of the shots. Having said that, I’m thinking of shooting them all on either white or black seamless next year for something completely different…  we’ll see.

Just to finish up, it seems only fitting to include a pic of my 2 month old daughter Brooklyn and her first meeting with the man in the red suit…

I hope you all have a safe & happy Christmas, and thanks for taking the time to read my blog.

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