In 2011, after 7 seasons of being a “volunteer Santa”, I decided to try my hand at being a professional “paid” Santa.
Santa Tim Connaghan hired me for my first 3 real professional Santa jobs. The first 2 were in Medford, Oregon doing ‘photo work’ at the local Walmart & Sears portrait studios.
In my 7 seasons, I had posed for thousands of photos… but these were all FREE photos. The photographer and I were volunteers and there was no cost for the photos. This was the first time people were actually going to PAY to have photos taken with me.
I’ve been blessed with a nice smile that I’ve received compliments on since grade school, and as a professional speaker and with a long career a sales & marketing I was accustomed to smiling and projecting a nice image. I also received many, hundreds, of compliments about my earlier Santa photos… but still, now people were going to be paying for studio portraits with Santa… I felt I needed to up my game.
During my years as portraying Santa I had modified the traditional say “CHEESE” when having a photo taken to the more seasonal, say “Candy Cane”, which was fun and actually worked pretty well, but in the preparation material I received from Tim I was given a new tip.
Instead of saying and having the children say the traditional “cheese” Tim suggested using the word “Yeah!” (yeah – ye(ə) exclamation & noun. Nonstandard spelling of yes.)
As it turns out when we say “Yeah!” our mouth naturally forms a smile shape. Try it. Say Yeahaaa!
That got me thinking about what else I could do to improve the photos.
I started practicing my smile. I made a greater effort to keep my mustache groomed up and off my upper lip. I ‘tested’ dozens of hand & head positions until I found “looks” that I liked.
Since learning this tip from Tim, and becoming more aware of other ‘smile words’ & poses 8 years ago, I’ve had the unique privilege of being in many photoshoots, some with world-class photographers taking photos for print ads, shooting videos & commercials and these “techniques” have served me really well.
I’ve also found that practice REALLY helped me improve. (Imagine that.) 🙂
By taking selfies and videos on my phone and webcam and then really giving them a critical examination, and showing them to others and getting their opinions, I have found many little things that have improved both my appearance and the appearance of my photo partners.
If you’re a Gold or Platinum member now is an excellent time to review the session on working with professional photographers and photo studios with Santas Cliff Snider, Marty Jorgenson & Patrick Faulds.
Working with photographers and photo studios is a great way to have even more fun, and earn more money, portraying Santa.