Santa Extravaganza: Experience the difference at Photographic Elegance

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After wrestling your kids into adorable matching outfits and fighting traffic, crowds of holiday shoppers and lines of like-minded parents you’re finally ready to take the perfect, holiday card-ready photo with Santa.  You plop your child on Santa’s lap only to have them dissolve in tears or worse, refuse to go anywhere near this strange, bearded man.

For every parent who’s been there, Photographic Elegance is here to offer something different this holiday season.  “This is a magical experience!” ” says owner and photographer Sandy Harrison. “You’re not going to the mall and sitting on Santa’s lap for two minutes and getting a picture.”

Over the course of a full half-hour, Harrison photographs children interacting with Santa in three different environments.  One set is always what Harrison calls “traditional,” with elements like a Christmas tree and a fireplace. This is where parents can get a traditional “sitting on Santa’s lap” photo, but it’s also so much more.  Santa reads books, sings songs and plays with the children. “It’s really personalized to the child,” says Harrison. “Sometimes the parents even bring a present and we hide it under the tree for Santa to give to them.”

Children spend a full half hour interacting with Santa at Harrison’s Santa Extravaganza.

Harrison’s second Santa set is always something with an outdoor-look.  This year, Harrison plans to feature a four-foot snowman kids can decorate with Santa decorate.  There may even be a snowball fight! The last environment Harrison has planned for this year is a kitchen scene where kids can bake with Santa rolling out real dough and cutting cookies.  

One of Harrison’s sets always has an outdoor-look, which she adds additional winter touches to while editing.

Wardrobe changes are encouraged, and Harrison sends photos to everyone on “Santa’s List” ahead of time so they can bring appropriate clothing for each set.  Aprons and hats in a variety of sizes are available for the baking scene. Even Santa changes clothes from his traditional garb to a more casual red and white striped shirt and baker’s hat for the kitchen.

Older children enjoy baking with Santa in the “kitchen.”

One of the highlights for children every year is what Harrison calls the “magical snow.”  “We have snow right from the North Pole!” she says. “It feels like snow; it’s wet and cold when they touch it.  It doesn’t snow around here very often, and when they see snow and get to touch it, that’s magical for them.”

Children are captivated by the “magical snow” Santa brings from the North Pole.

The fun doesn’t end when your child’s time with Santa is over.  After half an hour, Santa’s elves assist children with crafts and cookie decorating while parents view and select photos.  Packages for the Santa Extravaganza start at $179, which includes the half-hour Santa experience and four 5×7 prints. Additional prints, holiday cards (minimum of 25) and gifts and keepsakes like photo books, mugs and even a slideshow featuring ten-second video clips are available for purchase as part of larger packages.  Everything ordered at the Santa Extravaganza – including Christmas cards – will be available for pick up the following Saturday.

Photos with Santa are a bit different from Harrison’s usual work, classic-style portrait images and oil paintings.  When asked why she returns to Santa photos year after year – since her own children were young – Harrison doesn’t hesitate.  “My grandchildren,” she says. “It’s just the magic in their eyes that I see,” she continues. “It is truly a magical experience, what we’re doing.  Kids usually don’t get to experience anything with Santa besides ‘sit on my lap and take a picture.’ He’s a stranger. Here they become friends.” 

It’s this customizable, personalized experience that brings her clients back year after year.  Santa knows these kids by name and makes the experience fun with hands-on activities for kids of all ages.  Harrison even has some tricks up her sleeve for those tricky years where dropping your child in Santa’s lap guarantees tears.  

Harrison’s varied sets offer kids opportunities to interact with Santa besides sitting on his lap, which can be scary for young children.

The Santa Extravaganza will take place from November 22 – November 24.  Call Sandy Harrison at Photographic Elegance (704-598-9099) to get your name on Santa’s list!

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Mary Beth Foster
Mary Beth Foster works part time as an essay specialist at Charlotte Latin School and full time as a mom to her eight-year-old daughter Hannah and her six-year-old son Henry. Prior to having children, she worked as a high school English teacher for nine years. Most recently, she chaired the English department at Queen's Grant High School. She and her husband have lived in Mint Hill with their children and their cats since 2011. Email: