How to administrate "photos with Santa" as painlessly as possible.
November 29, 2013 3:11 PM   Subscribe

My place of employment (an agro-tourism destination) has procured someone to play Santa this weekend for photos with kids (by donation), and we are having trouble figuring out the best way to deal with the paperwork and administration of that, without it turning into a huge nightmare.

This is a first for us, and I am wondering how other places deal with this. Obviously, parents are going to need to fill out some basic paperwork (Name, contact info, signed permission etc), but we don't really know how to ensure we can match the right paperwork to the right set of kids? Aside from numbering the pages, are there any other ways we can match a physical piece of paper with the photos that are then stored on the camera's memory? Is there a way to streamline the process? My worry is, if more than one photo needs to be taken of a kid (eyes closed, pulling santa's beard, etc), it might complicate the process, and if just one set of paperwork/kid becomes mismatched somehow, that could throw off all of the sequences and screw the entire thing up! The camera being used will be a Canon Rebel DSLR, and the owner of the camera might or might not be the person who ends up actually taking the photos.

How do malls deal with this type of administration? Anything else we need to be sure to include on the form to be filled out? I googled around for a template to use, but failed to find anything even close, so if anyone knows if something standard like that exists, we'd love to be pointed in the right direction for that as well...

Thanks green!
posted by wats to Technology (10 answers total)
Response by poster: Forgot to add, we intend to email the photos out to the parents afterwards, won't be offering prints or anything like that.
posted by wats at 3:12 PM on November 29, 2013

Best answer: The organizations that did school photos at my high school used to do this by having a piece of paper with a registration number written on it in the bottom of every frame of film they take and having the same registration number on the paperwork. Obviously it gets cropped out of the delivered photographs, but during processing, you use the number to match pictures to papers. When I worked yearbook, I got proofs with the numbers still attached.

I think the cameras had a lens frame that held the slips of paper, but you could probably do something very similar by simply holding up the registration info, or a piece of paper with a registration number written large on it, in front of the camera and taking a shot of it before photographing each family group. Then you'd have a photo of the registration info, followed by the photo(s) of the family, and if things got confused, all those photos would be timestamped so they could be sorted back into the original order.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:26 PM on November 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

Back in the old days, my photos with Santa had the photo id number visible in the photo with "miles to the North Pole" beneath it. Like this. (that isn't me) They didn't even bother cropping it out.

So I would pre-print the permission forms, each with a number at the bottom part of the sheet. After the form is signed, cut the number off and place it in a sign stand at the bottom of your photo.
posted by kimberussell at 3:52 PM on November 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

The last one of these we went to, they were immediately dumping all photos to a computer and putting them on CD. Even though they weren't really sure where they were supposed to be located when they walked in the door (my Scouts were there to help them set up and collect canned food donations during the event), they had the photo part down pat and families waiting no more than 5-10 minutes for their CD.

The cost for these was their choice of X number of canned food items per person, or $ per photo.

So... it isn't absolutely necessary to have to deal with all the paperwork, it just depends on how you want to go about it.
posted by stormyteal at 4:18 PM on November 29, 2013

Best answer: Have the parents write the email address on a sheet of paper, take a picture of the paper, then take pictures of the kids. Repeat. Keep the piece of paper in case you can't read the picture well enough.
posted by artychoke at 6:05 PM on November 29, 2013

Or what jacquilynne said.
posted by artychoke at 6:08 PM on November 29, 2013

A couple years ago I took my dog to get her picture taken with Santa at a fundrasier, and they burned the pix to CD for me right there. It was pretty painless, and although I'm technologically-inclined and had no problem ripping them and uploading to Shutterly or one of those sites, it was a nice option for people to just take the CD straight to Walgreens for printing.
posted by radioamy at 6:54 PM on November 29, 2013

You could do some sort of tethering where the photos are brought right into the computer as they're taken. This means any sorting could happen at the point they're taken.
posted by Brainy at 7:28 PM on November 29, 2013

Most DSLRs can be "tethered" to a computer via USB cable, meaning that the photos you take don't wind up on the camera's memory card, but are immediately copied into Aperture, Lightroom, or even Canon's free EOS Utility (if you go this route, you'll need the CD that came with the camera from the software to do the initial installation, and then will want to update it to the latest version from Canon's website). Whatever you choose, I'd test the setup out ahead of time.

Then, your pictures are directly on the computer: you can either annotate them immediately, while the parents are standing right there looking at the screen, with name/paperwork id/email address in the metadata and deal with cropping, exposure cleanup, and emailing them out later; or just email them right then and there before you start with the next kid. You can have a photographer's assistant take care of this at the computer while the next child is getting setup with Santa.

The bonus to tethering is that you and the parents can preview the pictures on a big monitor immediately as they are taken, so you can catch closed eyes or other defects before it becomes a big hassle.
posted by zachlipton at 8:14 PM on November 29, 2013

Response by poster: That whole photographing the form itself is so hilariously simple and ideal that I'm embarrassed not to have thought of it myself.

Forgot to mention the photo shoot is happening outside, nowhere near a computer, and with a staff of one in addition to santa (and thank got it is not me).

Thanks all! I think we'll be ok.
posted by wats at 10:48 PM on November 29, 2013

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