Lehigh Valley Photographer | All Things Christmas at LG 2018 style!

Here we go again! Can you believe it’s time for Christmas booking already? And I’m late to the game this year. With my home remodel taking up my whole summer and my ACL surgery and recovery, 2018 has been a blur and before I knew it, school started and we started negotiations with the man in red! I appreciate your patience and understanding and I’m asking you to read through this slowly and carefully if you plan on booking something Christmas with me this year. 

Things I plan on covering in this post: 

-SANTA!!!!! Indoor and outdoor. Types of sessions available, costs, procedures, booking and day of stuff and changes from last year! 

-Studio mini sessions: options and cost, dates and procedures. 

-Christmas Tree Farm! Dates and price and such. 

-Ways we'll be paying it forward! 

Here’s a refresher for new clients and returning since it’s been a while since we did this. 

What is "Awesome Santa"? We used to have a session called "Workshop Santa" and then we had "Regular Santa". While trying to compare the two, I was tired of saying "regular" when our Santa is anything but regular and everything awesome. So somewhere along the line the word "Awesome" started getting thrown around and I officially changed the name to Awesome Santa sessions and it stuck. If you've had the pleasure to meet the big guy, you'll agree that name is appropriate. All Awesome Santa sessions are held in my studio in Coplay, PA. 

What is Outdoor Santa? Outdoor Santa is just as it sounds. Awesome Santa out in the elements. We did a day of Outdoor Santa last year- you might remember the sessions with the blue truck- and they turned out better than I could have imagined. I’m hoping to be able to use the same blue truck this year but with some differently wrapped presents and a few other new touches. Outdoor Santa will be held one day only November 15th, snow or shine, in the back yard at my studio. If it were to rain, the sessions would be moved inside to my Awesome Santa backdrop. For this session, you MUST BE ok with weather, no matter what that means! If it's a blizzard (I'm knocking on every wooden surface there is around me including my head right now) then we will discuss that as the day gets closer. Santa brought his magic from the North Pole to make it "snow" last year and it was gorgeous! We intend on doing that again this year.

More on Santa in a bit. 

What does a Tree Farm session entail? Tree farm is my jam!!  It's a huge part of the success of my business and I treat it just as that. Kemmerer's Christmas Tree Farm on Valley View Drive in Bath, PA allows me to come there as I please and grants me exclusivity as the only photographer that they will allow to shoot on the farm. They are so supportive of my business and I return that sentiment. I have gotten my tree there every year for the last 6 years now and I love it every time. They just built their new building last year and this year's sessions will be held at the newer field.  Every session at the farm gets you a $10 off your fresh cut Christmas tree at Kemmerer's for this season. It's a win win! 

What are Studio Christmas sessions? Studio Christmas is just that. Christmas and winter themes at the studio. No Awesome Santa in attendance, just me and lots of fun sets and props. I typically offer 4 backdrops. One is usually somewhat colorful, one is more rustic, one is wintery and one is my Awesome Santa backdrop. The biggest one is the set I use for Santa so if you're doing family photos, that backdrop is definitely one you'll want to use. All of my backdrops can fit children comfortably and sometimes families can squeeze in on the other ones but just more limited. You will be able to choose from 1, 2 or 3 backdrops upon booking and you can upgrade or downgrade at anytime, even during the session if your child is behaving better (or worse) than expected. 

Prices for all of these sessions are discussed later in this blog. Please note: ALL HOLIDAY THEMED SESSIONS ARE PRICED PER FAMILY/HOUSEHOLD! No exceptions to this rule. What does this mean? Many people like to make a cousin photo for the grandparents. I love this and encourage it but price is per household. When there’s lots of eyeballs I have to get to look at the camera, it turns into a lot more work. I also photograph each child and sibling/family as well, this is why I’ve always done it this way. 

So now that you know what I mean when I talk about each session, you'll be ready to soak in the info! 

I mentioned Santa changes above... changes this year are: 1. Retainers. 2. Galleries. 3. Amount of sessions. 4. Getting a spot. 5. Digitals. 6. Awesome Santa vs Outdoor Santa booking.

1. Retainers/Deposits will be collected upon booking for all sessions including Santa. $100 retainer will have to be collected in order to book Santa and a $50 retainer will be collected in order to book tree farm or a studio Christmas mini. So please budget accordingly if you're planning on booking any of the aforementioned sessions. 

2.  We are no longer doing flash drives. If you didn’t get a session last year you might be saying, “NOOOO!”… but let me explain a little more.  We are doing galleries. Flash drives, although 95% effective still left 5% for error. If you've had a session with me in the last 3 years, you've had your session delivered to you in a gallery link where you can log on and download the images. You will still have the images the same day as the shoot (this is for Awesome Santa only, outdoor Santa, the images will be enhanced in post production so the gallery will be ready to view in a day or two) but they will be sent to your email with a link to your gallery! Each gallery is private and only viewable if you have the link to do so. This eliminates the congestion in the waiting room and most times last year by the time you were home from the shoot, you had a gallery full of Awesomeness waiting for you in your email. 

3. Santa is a busy man and we are SO INCREDIBLY BLESSED to have had him as much as we have over the last seven years. He has very much more limited availability this year than ever before. About 1/3 the amount of sessions to be precise. About 100 less than last year. {I think I just heard a gasp!}… We are still booking the same as always as far as time with Santa goes, but giving a little extra time for him to recover between those screamers. But giving him that cushion leaves a lot less sessions to be had. Which brings us to getting one of these coveted spots.

4. Our new procedure for Awesome Santa Booking last year had some mixed reviews. Mostly good but I know there was a lot of bashing me going on in other forums for the way I did things. From the price, to how I book and everything in between. Over the years, I’ve heard everything you can imagine. It makes me sad to an extent because if they truly knew me and knew how much of my heart I leave on the table at each session, I don’t think I’d be sent those comments on the sly. When we counted our Santa sessions this year, I actually cried. Not for any other reason other than me imagining all the families that won’t get a spot this year. But I have to do what’s best for Santa and myself and pray that everyone who truly cares, understands. We are going to do the first 60 names on the google form list get a guaranteed session.  The rest of the sessions available will be drawn by a lottery. So we will open booking at 8pm and leave the form open for 90 seconds OR until we get 350 names on the list. The first 60 will get a guaranteed spot. The rest of the names will be chosen by a random number generator. As in previous years, the form will ask for your Name, Email and Phone Number. We have a little over 100 spots available so really, it’s all a lottery. If it’s anything like previous years, 500+ people will be attempting the same thing at the exact same SECOND as you. Don’t be discouraged, I hope you still try for a spot! Please don’t hate me, I love you.. :)

5. We used to give all of the digitals and attempted to keep the cost lower last year and sell digitals separately. But with the price increase this year, we are once again giving all the digital images to you for the cost of the session. 

6. Last year we booked Outdoor Santa on a separate booking night prior to Awesome Santa. This year we will be booking all Santa sessions on the same booking night. Whether you would prefer Outdoor Santa OR Awesome Santa you will try for a spot by submitting the google form we mentioned above. If your name is one of the first 60 fastest fingers or drawn in the lottery for the remaining spots, when it is time to choose your date/time is when you'll be able to choose Outdoor Santa or Awesome Santa. More on that below in Question #7. 

Price, dates and booking times and dates. 

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A: OUTDOOR SANTA (extremely limited sessions)

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Address: 2354 Old Post Rd, Coplay, PA 18037

Session Date: Thursday, November 15th

Booking: Tuesday, October 2nd, 8pm

Price: $175 includes tax. $100 retainer due at booking/ $75 cash due the day of the session. 

Includes gallery of all digital “keepers” with print release and the option to buy additional products. Each session will receive a $5.95 discount coupon code for free shipping on a print order or off of a canvas or album order. $5 from each session will go to justembrace.org, my cousin/Santa's daughter's non-profit organization in Chicago. 

B: AWESOME SANTA

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Address: 2354 Old Post Rd, Coplay, PA 18037

Session Dates: Friday, November 16th, Saturday, November 17th, Friday, November 23rd, Saturday, November 24th, Thursday, November 29th, & Friday, November 30th

Booking: Tuesday, October 2nd, 8pm

Price: $150 includes tax. $100 retainer due at booking/ $50 cash due the day of the session. 

Includes gallery of all digital “keepers” with print release and the option to buy  additional products. Each session will receive a $5.95 discount coupon code for free shipping on a print order or off of a canvas or album order. $5 from each session will go to justembrace.org, my cousin/Santa's daughter's non-profit organization in Chicago. 

C: KEMMERER'S CHRISTMAS TREE FARM

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Address: 3266 Valley View Dr, Bath, PA 18014

Session Dates: Saturday, November 10th & Sunday, November 11th 

Booking:  Sunday, September 30th, 8pm 

Price: $250 plus tax. $50 retainer due at booking/ $200 plus tax the day of the session. (price hasn’t changed from last year)

Includes your choice of 8 digital images from your gallery of all of the "keeper" images from your session with print release, the option to buy additional digital images and products, and a $10 off a fresh cut Christmas tree at Kemmerer's.

D: STUDIO MINI SESSIONS

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Address: 2354 Old Post Rd, Coplay, PA 18037

Session Dates: Sunday November 18th, Monday November 19th, Tuesday November 20th, Tuesday November 27th, Wednesday November 28th & Saturday, December 1st

Booking:  Tuesday October 9th, 8pm

Price: $100 (1 backdrop)/$125 (2 backdrops)/$150 (3 backdrops) plus tax. (price hasn’t changed from last year)

$50 retainer due at booking- $50/$75/$100 plus tax due the day of the session. 

Includes your choice of 5/7/10 digital images from your gallery of all of the "keeper" images from your session with print release and the option to buy additional digital images and products.

 TWO WAYS WE BOOK SESSIONS

Google form and our online scheduler. To give you all an understanding of how this works and why we choose what we do, here is the quick rundown. 

~For the Google form we have you put in your name, email, and phone number to give you a chance at the fastest fingers. Those submissions come in time stamped down to the mili-second and are numbered in a list. We can then go down exactly in order of submissions to count who gets the spots based on how many we have to give. This is how we will be booking Awesome Santa and Outdoor Santa AND tree farm. 

~ Online scheduler, which has the dates & appointment times all right there to choose from. Sending mass amounts of people there at once can sometimes cause minor glitches and just can't handle the sheer volume of traffic that Santa and tree farm draws. Say Tanya & I are booking a session and we click on the same date/time at the exact same mili-second. This happens rarely, but it actually could let us both in to start filling out our name & info like we got the spot. You're given 10 minutes to complete the info and click submit, and whoever submits their info first actually gets the spot and it will tell the other person that spot is then taken. You're session is NOT CONFIRMED until it's submitted and says you've got the spot and you've received a confirmation email. If someone clicks on a time but changes their mind and exits out, that time is held for 10 minutes and the scheduler will remove it as an option for others trying to book. This is why it's VERY IMPORTANT when booking with our online scheduler to commit to a date/time and follow through with your booking. If you got a spot but realized after you're in it doesn't work for you, continue your booking anyway and we can *try* to see if there's someone to switch spots with you (no promises). The spots that become held by mis-bookings will then become available again after the 10 minutes, so if you've tried for a spot and don't see one, continue to refresh, as one might become available again that you can grab. This is how we will book Christmas Studio Mini Sessions this year as there’s not nearly as many people initially trying for these as there are for Santa and they have much more open availability. 

Now to answer a few questions you might have:

7. Question- If I am chosen for a Santa spot in the lottery or I'm one of the first 60 who submitted their form to get a guaranteed spot, how/when will I choose my Santa date/time and whether I want Outdoor or Awesome? 

Answer- Those who made it in the lottery or fastest fingers were given a specific date and time that they were able to choose their time slot and date for their Santa session. That scheduling date will only be released to those who made it on the list and have received the spot. Once we determine our final list, you will receive an email that lets you know either way if you made it or didn’t and what day and time you will be able to book your specific time slot. Please add lgenerose@gmail.com to your email address book so you don't miss an email from us. 

8. Question- Can I still book a cousins back to back Awesome Santa session if we all get on the list in time or get chosen in the lottery? 

Answer- No, I'm sorry. We can no longer promise this, it becomes too hard to work around with the amount of sessions being scheduled. 

9. Question- Can I book both an Outdoor Santa session and an Awesome Santa session? 

Answer- No, we want to allow as many families to be able to come as possible. Please try for the one you want the most. However, if you get a Santa spot but outdoor has filled with people before you in the random order, you would be offered an Awesome Santa spot and you choose to take it or pass.

10. Question- Can we bring our pet dog, cat, fish, hamster, rat, snake, etc. to our Santa session? 

Answer- Umm, no. We'd love to be able to allow you to bring your dogs but with allergies and the safety of so many kiddos being around I must say, sorry, but no. 

11. Question- How soon will we know if we got a Santa Spot? 

Answer- No more than 24 hours after booking opens up. Maybe sooner. 

12. Question- Is my retainer refundable or transferable to another session? 

Answer- Unfortunately, no. Unless I can find someone to fill your spot, I can not give it back. For Santa, we will most definitely be able to fill your spot if you give us as much time as possible. 

13. Question- What if my child wakes up sick on a Santa day? 

Answer- Please cancel. We don't want anyone getting sick. We will try our best to get you in another day.

14. Question- What if I have very limited availability? 

Answer- If you are trying for a Santa spot this year, please try to be extremely flexible with your availability if you receive a spot and try to accommodate any date/time that you can. After Santa is booked, we will post a thread for anyone who got a spot that is 100% flexible to any date/time who would be able to switch should someone need to, but there will be no promises we can make switches or rescheduling work. We understand kids are in school so we try to be sensitive to this. 

15. Question- What if my child is afraid of Santa? 

Answer- If you're child is afraid of Santa, choose one of the later date sessions for your best chance at them not being afraid to sit with Santa. We tend to have the most success with non-screamers the last weekend because the children have been surrounded by Santa Claus for a longer amount of time versus beginning of November when he's not really everywhere. It's just a theory but I think it is a legitimate thought.

16. Question- Is Outdoor Santa longer? Can we have outfit changes?

Answer- Outdoor Santa is the same as indoor Awesome Santa. No outfit changes. We want to get as many kids in as possible to see Santa so we're keeping the times the same across the board this year. Especially with cutting back on the amount of sessions. 

17. Question- Can we use gift certificates on Santa or holiday minis? 

Answer- Gift certificates can NOT be used on Santa sessions. They can be used on tree farm and Christmas Studio minis.

18. Question- Why such a huge price jump for Awesome Santa this year?  

Answer- Honestly, I have to make it worth my time and Santa’s time. I know there will be families who’ve been coming for years who might not be able to swing it this year and it truly breaks my heart. Two years ago, we did 350 sessions and sold out in seconds. I have less than half of that available this year but I’m still putting all my time, effort and money into making the set something magical for your kids and something you will treasure forever. I hope you understand. 

19. Question- How do I get on the waiting list?  

Answer- The waiting list is reserved for those who made it in on time on the initial booking night on 10/2 at 8pm. 

20. Question- How will you be posting/sharing the link this year? Will it be posted in one place or two and how will the link work?  

Answer- We will always post to Facebook, website and newsletter BUT we put the link to the deactivated google form out the day of so you have it and you can just refresh from there. We actually did the same thing last year that we’re going to do this year. We will post a deactivated link to the Google form the day before or the morning of- not sure which yet. Everyone will have the link and if you click on it before it’s activated, you’ll just get an error message that says, “this form is no longer accepting responses.“ Everyone will have the link to the Google form prior to booking and all they have to do is keep refreshing when the clock strikes 8pm to the second.

DONATIONS AND PAYING IT FORWARD OPPORTUNITIES.

Every year during the holidays, I like to help people pay it forward and give back to the community. Since last year was such a great success and we made such a huge impact, we've chosen to work with The Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley again to make #HolidayHopeChests. They're wrapped shoe boxes filled with goodies and necessities for boys and girls ages 2-14. We pledged to donate 500 Holiday Hope Chest boxes during our Christmas 2017 season and I’m hoping we can pledge 600 this year but I definitely need your help.  Each one you make, you have the chance at a $500 LG GIFT CERTIFICATE! We will be collecting these boxes until November 30th at several drop off spots in the Lehigh Valley to make it more convenient for you. To make sure we have them split them evenly for the children receiving them, we have created a sign up for you to pledge how many boxes and the age group/gender you will be making them for. You may sign up for multiple boxes!!!! We know that with all of us coming together, we can reach or even exceed our goal of 600 boxes this year. 

I’m happy to report, we will continue to collect PB&J from now until forever! For every pair of peanut butter (or other types of nut butter) and jelly you bring to the studio, you will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card. I’ll do the drawing once a month during the busy season and once every other month during the winter months. This is an easy way to give back to local food banks in our area.

Follow this link to sign up on our list for the boxes you are pledging to donate: 

Bit.ly/LGHolidayHopeChest2018

For more info on what the Holiday Hope Chest and these boxes are all about, you can watch this video here:

https://vimeo.com/189364159

Here is a link to a gift suggestion by age group list and dos/do nots for the Holiday Hope Chest shoeboxes:

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Link to Pay-It-Forward LG STYLE for tips and tricks and such! 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/payitforwardlgstyle/

I believe I might be the most long-winded person on the planet but there is just sooooo much information!!! If you have any questions, please let us know. Don’t forget to get signed up for the Holiday Hope Chests and spread the word. You don’t need to have a session booked to be entered into the drawing! I love you all so much. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

Please stay tuned to Facebook where I will be sharing a daily Santa tip each night for the next five days ‘til Santa booking.

God bless us everyone. Xo Lg