The Viewfinder

Workshop Review by Megan Taylor

17 Apr 2024 12:26 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

Brenda Kieso, CPP of Kieso Keepsakes, hosted a few photographers in her home studio for her “Here Comes Santa Claus!” workshop. I was immediately greeted with smells of peppermint and Christmas decor all throughout her house. I was definitely feeling the Christmas spirit! 


Brenda walked us through her experience over the years of offering these types of sessions. She used one Santa (Santa Darrell) for most of the years, but unfortunately he passed away a couple years ago. It was very obvious he was more than just someone she hired to play Santa for some photos. Her “new” Santa (Santa Gary) used to work for Santa Darrell and was a delight to meet and work with during the workshop. She had worked with one or two other Santa’s between Santa Darrell and Santa Gary, and based on her experience it is very evident how important it is to find a good Santa. You need to find someone that is good with kids, knows how to handle babies and knows how to respond to the kids' requests. 


Before lunch, we got to help set up Santa’s Mailroom in her living room, which was so helpful because we got to see how simple it could be. A couple backdrops, some faux wrapped gifts, a couple Christmas trees, a good chair for Santa, a “Nice” list, some small gifts for the kids and you are ready to offer something special for your clients.


After lunch we had a 3 month old little boy come by the studio to model with Santa (got to see how he is with babies), and then my two nieces came by who are 3 years old and 10 months old. Then we got to see how to photograph individual shots of the first child, add in a sibling, and then photograph the second child individually. My 10 month old niece was not loving Santa, which kind of worked in our favor because we had to work through the process of getting her to be okay with Santa near her or distract her enough for him to sneak into the photo! 

One of the key takeaways from this workshop for me was to start talking about these sessions early with your existing clients. You want to make them aware of them and to plan for them. Build the excitement and post on social media regularly leading up to the session dates!


I was blown away when Brenda told us that she photographed 46 Santa Experiences over 3 days last year. She has been doing these Santa sessions since 2014, and it was nice to see her growth and “the experience” evolve through the years. As someone that has been considering offering these sessions to their clients, it was helpful to see her process from start to finish. I can now better understand what to offer my clients the first time I offer this experience. 

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