words+pictures

Santa arrives at the Mall of America!

He's here...and I took the picture of him have his picture taken.

It was a fun and challenging shoot last night covering Santa's arrival (by miniature train by the way).  I believe the term celebration certainly applies here. There were Elves, dancers, a band, Marines, and oh yeah over 500 people young and old wearing Elf hats and lots of other "non-Elves" in the large crowd. Besides just kicking off the Christmas retailing season, the creative minds at the Mall turned the arrival into a chance for Santa to be the center of the worlds' largest "Elfie" photo.  So now even Elves are shooting...really?....can't the pros ever catch a break from the competition!

Shooting was the fun part but as mentioned it was a challenging shoot.  Like most things in our business there was a huge amount of pre-pro, we scouted, tested angles and lenses. We also coordinated with the Mall electricians, worked with the event lighting tech, the Mall special events team, and of course collaborated at every step with our client and creative partner at the Mall.

On shoot day we set up our augmentative strobe lighting and carefully balanced and tweaked the strobes with the stage lighting. Still pre-arrival, we rigged the camera on a tall ladder and we shot a number of reference jpgs to an iPad, after nailing it all down...of course it all had to be moved off the red carpet to allow for the Marines and Santa to arrive.  So after days of planning and hours of work it boiled down to this....

Santa arrives near the end the stage show and as he does we literally follow behind him halfway down the red carpet.  As he walks up to the stage, we re-set the camera, fire off a test or two just to make sure it's all still working. After a minute or two on stage Santa and the Elves come back down to the their marks on the carpet and we quickly fill in some space with kids.  I have to shoo away a crazy video journalist who steps right into the shot and did not want to go...and more gently I move away some VERY enthusiastic fans. It was clear we had a very limited time frame, we shot 7 files, and when we got it on the 7th frame, we called it good, pulled back off the carpet.  The crew wrapped, my client and I worked the file a little and off it went on the national wires about an hour after we shot.  Hours of prep...minutes of shooting...sometimes that's the way it goes.

Like I said fun and challenging!