Warrenville, Illinois — Once the pandemic canceled her annual in-studio Santa photography sessions, Alicia Johnson and her family decided to getcreative.
"We thought, 'how on Earth are we going to make this happen?'" Johnson asked.
Her husband Dan built an outdoor studio that took into account COVID safety measures, and working together, the family has created a safe photo experience for guests.
"We wung it basically!" Johnson said. Her husband will often help with sanitizing the space, while Johnson's daughter Delaney will act as the.
Using hand sanitizer and a lot of social distancing, the family was able to keep their photography tradition going, even bringing back repeat customers.
"Because of COVID-19. If he gets sick, then Christmas will be canceled," 8-year-old guest Maeve Mallett said when asked about the photo session.
On top of creating a COVID-19-friendly Santa photo session, Johnson looks out for her customers in other ways. She gifted a session to Ricky Carpentero and his family after learning the photos were his mother's Christmas wish.
"I couldn't believe it. I was crying — we haven't taken professional pictures as a family or with him since birth," Ricky's mom Alejandrina Garcia said.
When asked by Santa what he wanted for Christmas, Ricky said, "For this coronavirus can be gone so I can visit with my family."
"He wasn't there asking me for a list of toys that he wanted. He wanted something really important. That touched me very much," Santa said.
"I feel like the pictures this year really show what we've all gone through," Johnson said. "The children are so much more, I want to say, grounded ... I personally think it was more magical this year."
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