Sunday, 15 December 2013

Secret Santa

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post and it’s been mostly due to being so incredibly busy these last few months. Between looking for work, working on costumes, organising events, and subsequently attending them, AND trying to record, edit, and release a weekly podcast, writing as been the furthest thing on my mind, despite having one blog post I’ve been itching to write now for over a month (and have had a draft buried in the blog somewhere waiting for me to work on). Added to the fact that just two weeks ago I unexpectedly started a new job that I thought I’d missed out on, all whilst organising Perth’s Allied Costumers members for this year’s Channel 7 Christmas Pageant, time to do such stuff has been in short supply.

Needless to say I haven’t really announced my job really is, not for fear of people visiting but because I haven’t really had time to beyond a few small posts. The job is only a Christmas casual position, as will become obvious, and I’ve only got one week left so it doesn’t really matter either way. So now that that’s been built up it’s time to tell you all what I’ve been doing... I’ve been working as a Santa Photographer, and I must say this is the first job I’ve absolutely loved doing. Now I’m not going to mention specifics, that’s mostly due to privacy but also because I know what companies are like, and even though this job is short I want to keep it and preferably come back again next year!

That being said there is no scandalous tales, no gossip about the real workings going on in a Santa grotto, none of that utter tripe that some people fluff up to try and sell books or make the papers, none of that at all... well if there is I’m certainly not involved. What I do know is that I’m working with some amazingly awesome people (and occasionally downright hilarious), elves, Santa(s) and photographers alike, and I’ve learned a lot from sheer osmosis about my side of the lens than ever before. I find as I write this I’m uncertain just how much I can talk about on a public forum such as this, as such my idea behind the blog post as changed direction (if you didn’t notice disregard this statement).

One thing I have learned to do in this job is to just have fun. Kinda simple really when you think about it, however I’m betting most people don’t have a chance to do have fun at work especially with the pressure someone in my position is under. Before I get to the fun I’d better explain a couple of things first.
  • First of all, the photographer is almost always under pressure to get a couple of good shots of the kids with Santa, and they have to get them quick... this can be a bit exhausting when there is a long ass line with kids and parents who have potentially waiting over an hour to see Santa.
  • To further complicate these matters, sometimes the kids don’t want to co-operate. This typically can be because they either are incredibly tired or incredibly shy, or in some cases incredibly shit scared of Santa. There are usually ways of bringing the kids onto our side, talking to Santa, patting Rudolph, playing around with various toys, bells, etc, but they sometimes can get worse by...
  • Overbearing Parents! I have no real problems with the kids, well the young ones at the least... the older ones can be fucking brats at times, but not that often as you would imagine. No the problems sometimes are the parents who think the best way to deal with a child who is scared shitless of Santa is to drag them across the room and force their screaming spawn onto his knee... then expect me to take a good photo. There is been a couple of times we’ve got “passable” photos this way, but mostly the only times we get good ones are when the parents are with them if they are scared, which happens more times then you’ve think. Again it’s also rare to have some parents you just want to punch in the face, but alas you just have to smile and try to do good work.
And yet despite all this (and admittedly in spite of in some cases) I genuinely have a lot of fun and have some great laughs on this job, even when I’m stuck in the dead end part of it occasionally. I’ll admit part of it is keeping a happy smile on my face to deal with the customers, but there are times when I’m trying not to burst my gut with laughter whilst with some of the families. And a lot of it has to do with keeping up with my room’s Santa and Elve. Namely if they are being fun and happy with the kids, I’ve got to do my best to match them... which thankfully is easy with a lot of people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Sometimes when it’s quiet and there is no kids we just shoot the shit and talk about all sort of stuff, sometimes we keep ever other amused by telling jokes and stories and generally have a good time, either way it makes for a great working atmosphere which I’m hoping lends to a better experience with the families that come in.

I find I’m developing a banter with the Santas when we take the photos which helps us all out, especially as we keep coming up with new (well to the families) and, sometimes, funny things to say instead of “Cheese!” My personal favourite came from today, which was “Cheeky Monkeys!” This was especially pleasing as it got a smile and look from a grouchy kid who was trying to burrow into his Dad’s t-shirt. We also take a “magic” photo where a reindeer might “magically” appear to be under a kids hands, especially when the photographer turns the screen away and quickly “magic” them in whilst Santa is asking about their wish lists. I’ve also developed a banter with the Elves about the “reindeer running loose in the halls” when we have to delay families from potentially running into other families on the way out, nothing like reinforcing the lie magic of the situation.

Anyway I think it’s time for me to get a little R&R before a long day tomorrow, and what looks to be an incredibly busy week to come. Merry Christmas!

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