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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Santa Paws 2013

Photo by Leslie Heemsbergen

We attended Santa Paws, an event for Heartland Human Society, again this year.  Our local Earl May store provides the setting, a local photo shop donates the photo processing, a gracious volunteer is Santa, and local photographer, Leslie Heemsbergen, donated her time for photography.  Therefore, the entire $10 cost of the 5 X 7 photo ends up going to Heartland Humane to help the animals.

This is an annual event we have participated in for years, well, ever since we have our dog, who is now 13 years old.  Also, we have posted the event on the Williams Family Blog on more than one occasion.

But something happened this year that soured me on the event.  When we arrived it was great to see other dogs and we happily waited in line.  Since it can take a while to get the dogs ready for the photo, I asked if the boy could see Santa and I could take a photo with my phone.  The photographer told me no.  She said that this was a fundraiser and that I could pay for the extra photo.  I told her we were going to purchase a photo with the boy, the dog, and Santa, but wanted to capture a photo with just the boy and Santa.  Again, was told no and “what if everyone wanted to do that?”    What I was thinking was that not everyone was there to do that nor would they be coming to do that in the four hours for the event.  She kept asking me if I understood and I kept replying “no” as I didn’t.  Finally, she stopped asking me and we waited for our turn for her to take our one photo.

While it was great that the photographer was donating her time, what difference would it have made for us to snap a photo with our phone or any other camera?  We were still paying for the photograph of which is she isn’t earning anything based on the volunteer status.  Her actions were intended, I guess, to raise more money for the event but what her actions may have done in the long run is to make less money for the event due to folks like us not wanting to return.  Another family attending the event, while not told no, were distracted by the photographer when they got out their camera/phone.

Also, we have been able to take photos at the event before, with the same photographer, and used them to promote the event via the blog.  So, why the change?  If we were taking the same photo that the photographer was taking or were somehow interfering with profit or copyright, I would understand.  But we weren’t, nor did we plan to.  I did express my displeasure to the organizers of the event.

Click here and here for photos and stories of previous Santa Paws events.

Let me compare this to other experiences when the goal of selling photos has been the same.  Let’s take Disney’s Photopass service as an example.  Certainly their goal is get you, as a Disney guest, to purchase photos, photo CD’s, even merchandise.  Though, each and every time a guest comes to a location with a Photopass photographer, not only will they take a picture with their camera, but they will offer to take a photo using the guest’s camera, phone, or tablet.  Since service is one of their pillars, it comes first before making the sale.  And, you know what?  We slap down the big bucks and pay for the photo CD.  Often, when they offer to take a photo using our camera, we decline as we appreciate their work and the ability to relax and enjoy our vacation.

So, while I wish I could share more photos of the event with you, this year, I am not able.  Next year?  Well the plan is to have video!  No one is selling video so this shouldn’t be a problem.  Should it?


  1. Earl May's event - Leslie Heemsbergen DONATED her time and talents - all to a very good cause....NOT YOUR PLACE TO CHANGE THE FLOW! How rude of you to have even asked more than once!

    1. Anonymous,
      Yes, I agree, everyone donated their time, energies, etc. Therefore, why the skin off someone's nose by my taking a picture of Santa and our son with our phone or any other device?
      I was not rude--and did not ask more than once, though I was asked more than once if I understood the reason for the "no" answer. In fact, I kept very quiet the rest of the time.
      Because I believe in freedom, I did not delete this comment, which I could have done with one click. A similar freedom would come with personal photography devices giving me additional photos in which to promote the event for FREE! But my freedoms were thwarted.
      Anonymity also brings freedom to say or write something someone may not do otherwise.
      Thanks for reading!