One thing that is so important to me is love. I want you to love your portraits, I want you to love your experience, and I want you to FEEL the love in my studio. Christmas time is such a magical time! It's a time to bring family together. You have big feasts together, you see twinkling lights together, make cookies, create and continue beautiful family traditions. What's another thing you do for Christmas? You capture as many of those memories as you possibly can. Being a mother, I know I spend so much time snapping pictures on my phone. It makes me smile to look back and remember my kids faces as they light up with joy and happiness. I love getting the silly pictures of my husband as he's cutting the ham and grandparents open another hand made present from their grandchildren. Among these hundreds of pictures we capture each year, we also go searching for the perfect portrait of our smiling children with Santa Claus.
It can be a dreaded experience, honestly. It's taxing on a mother to get the picture perfect smile and perfect attitude! Dad is cranky he had to come stand in line at the Citadel Mall, kids are cranky because they've been in line for 20 minutes being told to stand still, Santa's beard is falling off, and you're just not having a good time at all. On top of all of this you're paying for a 5x8 card that you could've taken on your phone. Now dad is a little more cranky!
Our Charleston Santa Experience eliminates all of this! Parents love that our sessions are completely private and hassle free. We take care of all the details! You show up, get the children dressed in one our finely crafted PJ sets (or bring your own! We compiled the perfect sets HERE for you to keep!!!), and then watch the story unfold right in front of your eyes! Santa has a REAL beard and we create beautiful magic to the images just in time for Christmas! Here's a mother's perspective on what it was like to have a child experience meeting the REAL Santa at our studio here in Charleston, SC!
"The first time I ever met Maria was for the Charleston Santa Experience. We had recently moved to Charleston, SC and I didn't know all the "spots" to find Santa so after a google search I came across her website. My son was getting older and was hearing rumors at school about Santa not being real so I wanted this year to be special! I knew I probably wouldn't get many more Santa pictures and with him being my only child it meant a lot to me to get these done. It's not something I could've gotten on my phone and it's not an opportunity that is offered in many places so I sent an email and booked as fast as I could. I luckily was able to get the LAST spot! At first my husband wasn't so excited because he knew we would be spending more on these than we have in the past but he supported me knowing it was probably the last year we could keep up the magic of Christmas! Plus he said the pictures looked "neat" so he had somewhat of an open mind!
Upon arriving we got to pick out PJ's! One of the best parts was not having to find the perfect PJ set to go along with the story and scene she had. There were a couple of choices to pick from in his size and he got changed quickly. He was still questioning if Santa was real at this point and we spent the 10 minutes before our appointment trying to convince him in hopes we would get that perfect portrait. Honestly? I didn't think she'd be able to get one because he had his fake smile that older children just LOVE to do and didn't believe in Santa.
Then we walked in. . . The whole scene was absolutely magical. Complete Hallmark Christmas vibes! She asked my husband and I to sit to the side so we wouldn't distract Keith (my son) and asked him to sit in the chair to read a Christmas book. Santa snuck up on him and his facial expression was absolutely priceless. The interactions throughout the experience with my son and Santa were magical. There's no other word to describe it. It was magical to watch my son BELIEVE this was the REAL SANTA! We laughed a lot, smiled a lot, and left there talking about it over dinner with friends. I can still replay the entire time in my head. Keith left with cookies and my husband left without any critiques (which is NOT normal for him!).
Here's the part where we thought we would dread the most. The sales appointment. We knew it wouldn't be a small purchase going in and went into it with an amount we didn't want to budge on. My husband and I talked over the price point several times before the appointment and when we walked in we were very honest with Maria about what we were wiling to spend. YA'LL! SHE WENT ABOVE AND BEYOND for the price point we wanted. My HUSBAND loved the images so much!! My husband could NOT pick just one. He could NOT pick just five! He fell in love with so many of the images that day! It's nothing like I've ever experienced with him and we get pictures done AT LEAST twice a year! I left the appointment with tears because I never thought it was possible to have MY SON look so great in a portrait. It wasn't just a typical photograph. It was special. It's something I thought I'd only see on TV or in magazines - not on my wall in my home!!! We even ended up emailing her later that day to add on to our order because we could not turn down images we just fell in love with. We never felt any pressure, we never felt a ping of regret with the money spent, and to this day we don't have anything negative to say about the sales appointment. It was all honest and direct communication from the very beginning to the day of pick up!!
To this day, almost a complete year later, I have the wall portraits hanging all year round, have the Christmas card displayed on my fridge (and so do many of our friends and family! They say it's their favorite of Keith!!!) and our customized Christmas book on our TV stand for guests to flip through when they visit. My son grabs it every so often just to relive the experience as well. He says it's his favorite book!! The imagery is unbeatable. The experience CANNOT be forgotten and even to this day you can NOT convince my 7 year old that Santa is NOT real because of it. His friends have tried and failed because he met the real Santa that day. He's even called out the Santa at the mall for not being real!! He met the REAL Santa Claus and created magic in that room during A Charleston Santa Experience. Maria is just such a fantastic artist that we have come back and were clients AGAIN in February of 2020. (& now I even work for her!) My family will never forget the experience. We look back and just smile fondly at the entire time we had and look back at our images daily. It's not JUST pictures. It's truly an experience and the artwork that comes from it? Irreplaceable and magical." -Marti, mother of a 7 year old BELIEVER.