Discover Canterbury: Santa photos

Every December parents line up in malls and department stores around the world to secure snaps of their children with the jolly man himself. Children big and small (and even some adults) take turns sitting with Santa and smiling for the camera, but when did this tradition begin?

From the early 20th century department stores regularly used a "live" Santa in their Christmas displays, however having your photo taken with him wasn't thought of until 1943. It was then that Seattle Post-Intelligencer photographer Arthur "Happy" French developed the concept after witnessing children meeting with Santa at the Frederick and Nelson department store in downtown Seattle. So in 1944 French took several weeks leave from his job and, with his newly established Arthur and Associates Photography company, set up in the storefront of Frederick and Nelson to set about capturing these memories for families to take home. Charging $1 per snapshot he earned $10,000 in one month, the same amount he made in one year of standard employment, highlighting the demand for such a service and cementing Santa photos as an annual holiday tradition that spread across the globe.

Donate your Santa photos to our collection

Do you have any Santa photos taken in Canterbury? If so, we would love for you to contribute to our collection.

Discover Canterbury

Discover Canterbury is a fortnightly blog post promoting beautiful, interesting, weird, and wonderful digital content from our Canterbury Stories and Discovery Wall collections.
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