Friday, December 17, 2010

Santa pictures at Hyde Park Village

I'm spending a week taking pictures of Santa Claus at Hyde Park Village and it's really a wonderful experience.

First, a little inside scoop on photographers.  Most photographers specialize in one sort of photography.  Some are wedding photographers and some are baby photographers.  Some shoot sports and Little League and some shoot school portraits.  Which field you specialize in is based on what you like, what you're good at and what makes money, not necessarily in that order.  There's also some ego stuff involved sometimes... fashion photographers would never lower themselves to shooting a wedding, wedding photographers would never stoop to shooting Little league. That sort of thing.

My problem is that I like to work.  If someone asks me to do a job and I'm not already booked, there's a good chance I'll do it.  I have a family to support and there's pride to be had in working but the main reason is that I enjoy being a photographer.  Any kind of photographer.  There's joy to be had in the work, the people you meet and the pride of doing a good job.  That's why it's not unusual to see me photographing a high-end wedding one day and a High School prom the next.  I've turned down jobs before for various reasons but I don't know many photographers who work in as wide a variety of fields as I do.

This is the first time that I've ever signed on for such a long session (6 days total).  I'm two days in and I can't tell you how much I'm loving it.

First of all, the proceeds are going to The Humane Society, which is nice because the clients are contributing to a charity and getting a nice photo as opposed to paying me directly.  It removes the business side from the equation so that everyone is just trying to have a good time and get fun pictures.

Second, we have a great Santa.  This is his 14th year.

I didn't know what to expect going in but I soon came to understand that the picture is not the important part of the experience.  I'm used to people focusing on me and trying to keep the line moving in these sort of shoot-and-print situations.  That's not what it's about with Santa.

It's about Santa.

These families come in with children who have been coming to see Santa, this Santa, since they were born.  They sit, they talk, they laugh.  Eventually I take a picture.  You never saw so much love and warmth in your life.  He's a part of the family for these people and I feel really privileged to be able to be a small part of it.  I have two small children of my own so I still get mushy watching a 4-year-old talk to Santa for the first time.

Because it's sponsored by The Humane Society, pets are welcome.  One of the things that I think is hilarious is watching the pet owner's reaction when they see their picture. Oh sure, parents with children are appreciative and there's plenty of "awwwws," but the pet owners?  They go nuts!  "That's my baby! AWWWW!!"   :)

Plus, I'm a dog guy so I have no problem with animals.  I love seeing all the pets.

I guess the point of this post is that I'm pretty lucky to have this job.  I'm constantly being surprised by where it takes me, the people I meet and the experiences I have.  Everyone should take pictures of Santa at least once.

Booray Perry is a wedding photographer in Tampa Bay Florida