For the last four season I have been the official photographer for Santa on the Polar Bear Express operated by the Indiana Transportation Museum. This is a great group of people passionate about trains and Santa.
Every year I try and ride several round trips with Santa getting the event in both day and night settings. Personally I like the night images more. They set the holiday mood much nicer. For the last several season I have been using the Olympus OMD EM1 as my camera of choice. I downgraded in size from Nikon gear. However I did not downgrade in image quality. The complete Olympus package works so well for this type of event. The gear size and weight are a huge factor for me. I am busy moving between five passenger cars bouncing along at 20mph. That does not sound fast but on an old rail line, it's fast enough. These cars are swaying.
The other feature where Olympus has an advantage is with the built in image stabilization. The night images would not come out nearly as good without this feature. Since the cars are so dark at night I am using the 17mm 1.8 lens opened wide. No flash at night, it ruins the mood. I will use a flash during the day as fill light.
Being the official photographer to Santa is a workout. After one ride, I am worn. It can be difficult being in the right place and time to get that magic moment. These images are used for the museums marketing. Both online and print. I do not take a picture of every child with Santa. Instead I am looking for that image that would be used for advertising. A moment that defines the event. Below are some of my favorites from this season.
Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!