We are in the hospitality industry
Memorable photographs are a positive byproduct of everything we do to get there
While many will focus on the end product, a photograph that can be printed and shared, we take the steps necessary to get that memorable photograph.
Local people with professional standards, experience and empathy are at the core of everything we do and we pay them accordingly with the respect they have earned which is why they worked through the first two years of this pandemic and have returned for 2022.
Santa Claus at Billings Bridge
Bilingual in French and English with over 35 years of experience Santa at Billings Bridge is warm and comforting with positive stories to share.
Mean Green Santa
Bilingual in French and English he's a roller coaster of fun.
Santa Claus at Hazeldean Mall
Unilingual in English with over 7 years of experience Santa at Hazeldean Mall is a brilliant conversationalist who engages with children by relating to them and their interests.
The owner of IDEA3 (Holiday Studio's parent company) is professional photographer Frank Fenn (www.frankfenn.ca) who works with other professional photographers (Katherine Hoos, Rebekah Hambly, Bilal Siddiqui, and Bryan Jones) to make the photographs that you will cherish forever. Knowing how to use professional-grade cameras and lighting is just the beginning, they know how to set the tone for each visitor to be both friendly and efficient. These photographers also know how to operate as Hosts and Uploaders - being cross-trained is a key to a seamless family experience.
As we run a schedule of appointments, and with free "walk-ins", it is critical to have a Centre/Quarterback/Host who works with the Photographer and Uploader to keep everyone on track and happy. The Host is responsible for making your family feel at home, not rushed or sold to, using SAAS platforms while keeping visits running smoothly. On quieter evenings the Host is also the Uploader.
Our team relies on one person who is focused on uploading the photograph files to private galleries and emailing the link to the visitors - the Uploader needs to know how to use and interact with all of the SAAS platforms while juggling incoming files.
SAAS (Software As A Service)
We have come a long way from the "Stand in line for three hours, then 1 minute on Santa's knee, click-click-next". Here are the various professional software subscriptions we use, and pay for, to make everything look simple.
Website and Photograph Delivery
Two Zenfolio Hosted websites and two backup Format Hosted websites - it's like dropbox for professional photographers - with photographs files accessible to visitors for a year (or more).
Scheduling: Acuity (owned by Squarespace)
When you make a reservation all of your reservation information goes into this secure site in real time - our Host, Uploader, Photographer, and Santa can review your details in order to make your visit the best ever.
A secure method of paying, Square is used both online (in conjunction with Acuity) and with Square Terminals IRL at the Santa sets.
Yes, we have our own dedicated Internet lines at both locations with Ethernet.
Google - Gmail
While we do have our own email address we've found that, because we send a lot of emails during the day, our emails are caught up in Spam filters. The workaround is to use Gmail.
Each location has at least two, professional-grade cameras with dual slots (so that, if a memory card fails, we have backups) paired with professional lenses. While we deliver jpg files, for internet efficiency, the quality of the image files is sufficient to print up to 11x14 inches.
Lighting on secured stands
Off-camera lights make a world of difference to the quality of the pictures being made.
We use Apple iMac computers (at least two at each location) to access all of the SAAS programs.
3-minutes sounds like a short amount of time, doesn't it?
Children have short attention spans and in the past, a typical visit, after standing in line for 3-hours, lasted around 2 minutes. For 1 to 2 children 3-minutes is plenty of time and for people with more visitors (or those wanting more time to sit talk with Santa) we have the option of 6 and 9 minute reservations. Our photographers don't wait for one posed moment, they get to work right away looking to capture reactions and (if the visitors are into it) individual pictures, family pictures and sometimes more creative poses.
Pictures - Files, not prints
We deliver your photographs to you in a password-protected online gallery. You will receive a minimum of 10 photograph files per 3 minutes of a session and you can download them all and use as you wish. You may be wondering why you don't get to pick your pictures after the session, we have a few reasons.
1. You get all of the pictures, they are yours.
2. We have your email on file and the Uploader will send you the gallery - normally this can take up to one or two hours, but (should we have slow internet or software issues) we promise you'll have them within 24 hours.
3. I (Frank Fenn) don't like waiting around for a "hard sell" on choosing "this package or that package or that package" - it's just too much, we want you to get to see Santa without a long wait and then send you on your way to enjoy the rest of your day.
4. Once you have the files you can print them wherever you like and share them wherever you like - put them on Facebook or Instafgram, order the prints online either from us or from Sooters/Costco/Blacks/WalMart/PhotobookCanada...you have choices and we are in the hospitality business, not the printing business.
Billings Bridge Shopping Centre and Hazeldean Mall provide the set and we tweak how it all goes together so that it is rich in detail while being safe and efficient for visitors and staff. In exchange for this IDEA3 pays rent to the property management company.
Masks or No Masks
Currently, there are no mask mandates therefore we do not require visitors or staff to wear masks. However, if visitors wish for our staff to wear masks we will do so.
Though we try to be, we are not perfect.
Each visitor is unique so if you are not happy with your pictures or your experience please contact us using email either through this site or by reply email with details. When not making pictures IDEA3 owner, Frank Fenn, is responsible for doing what it takes to make things right and will reply as soon as possible.
AND, if you are happy, please let him know this as well.
Other Santa Options in Ottawa
While we are not associated with these other Santa establishments, Santa is magically available practically everywhere - here are links so that you can explore your options:
Bayshore Shopping Centre
Holiday Studio is locally owned and operated by experienced talent from the Ottawa area, we hope you have a safe and memorable holiday.
Holiday Studio by IDEA3