We are in the hospitality industry
and photographs are the positive byproduct of everything we do to create memories
While it is easy to focus on the end product, a photograph that can be printed and shared, we take the steps necessary to get that memorable experience.
Santa isn't a "judge & jury", he doesn't decide who is "naughty and nice".
We believe that there is room for everyone on Santa's Nice List and each of his visitors is included on the Nice List by virtue that they each have gifts to share with the world, Santa's place is to discover, validate, and celebrate the gifts that children (and parents) already possess.
People - Santa Whisperers
To go further on this philosophy each of the people you meet on your journey through the Holiday Studio in Hazeldean Mall is a Santa Whisperer. A Santa Whisperer's role is to help Santa and the families create and capture memories by making the visit personal.
Santa Claus at Hazeldean Mall
This year we have two different natural bearded Santas. Each is unilingual in English and is brilliant at engaging in conversation with children and parents.
Engaging Conversations & Reservations
Being engaging starts with knowing children's names before they walk up to visit, but that is just the start.
On the intake "Nice List" reservation form we ask for some detail nuggets on Santa's visitors, when you share these details Santa will have conversation starters that he reads the night before and shortly before your appointment.
The owner of IDEA3 (Holiday Studio's parent company) is professional photographer Frank Fenn (www.frankfenn.ca) who works with another professional photographer, Katherine Hoos (https://kanatababystudio.com) to make the photographs that you will cherish forever. Knowing how to use professional-grade cameras and lighting is just the technical aspect of what they do, their ultimate purpose is to set the direction and tone for each visitor in a friendly and guided set of pictures with breathing room for Santa and his visitors to actually have conversations. These photographers are also cross-trained as Hosts and Uploaders so that the group of Santa Whisperers functions as a co-ordinated team.
As we run a schedule of appointments it is critical to have a Host who works with the Photographer and Uploader to juggle the schedule and maintain an inclusive experience where your family feels at home, not rushed or sold to. The Host uses SAAS platforms while keeping visits running smoothly and, on quieter evenings, functions as the Uploader.
After your visit your photographs will go to our Uploader who will use various SAAS platforms to set up and upload your photograph files to your personal gallery and then email the gallery link to you, the registered visitor.
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 - they're like Dropbox for professional photographers - with photograph files accessible to visitors for a year.
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.
We have our own dedicated Internet with Ethernet to deliver photographs and maitain the SAAS platforms.
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 can get caught up in Spam filters. The workaround is to use Gmail.
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
Remotely triggered off-camera lighting to create quality photographs with depth and clarity.
Apple iMac computers to access all of the SAAS programs (PCs can be equally good, it's just what we use for photography purposes).
Session Lengths 5, 10, and 15 Minutes Sessions by reservation
We are not fans of waiting in line for three hours.
Children can 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 a 5-minute appointment time works well.
For people with more visitors, pets, or those wanting more time to sit and talk with Santa we have the option of 10 and 15-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 personal online gallery.
You will receive a minimum of 10 photograph files per 5-minute session and you can download them all and use them 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 will work to get them to you 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 Instagram, and order the prints online either from us or from your preferred source.
Hazeldean Mall provides the decorations and we put it all together - in fact, Santa comes down from the North Pole to help build and tweak the setting while also being safe and efficient for visitors and Santa Whisperers. In exchange for this Holiday Studio by 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 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