This past Saturday, I photographed the children's holiday party held by my former employer. It dawned on me as I was shooting that I first did this over 25 years ago. Which means that some of the kids I photographed then are bringing their own kids now. That first year was crazy. Everyone was going to get a free 4x6 in the company mail, so I had assistants taking everyone's name down, hoping that we kept everything in order so people got the correct photo. Santa was sitting in one corner of the hall, and the line to see him stretched all the way around all four sides After I got the photos (over 200 photos) back, I had to sort them and put then in envelopes for printing. There was a lot of manual effort involved. I did the holiday photos on and off for a few years after that, finally settling in to doing it officially about 15 years ago. 2004 was the first year I shot it digitally, although we still printed them, and optionally emailed them to people.
Now things are simpler and more organized. Parents are given a number when they arrive at the party, and the numbers are called in blocks of 10 to minimize the time families wait in line. I post the photos in a gallery on ExposureManager, and people can download a 4x6 file (1200x1800 pixels) and also have the option of ordering prints. There's no need to track people's names any more, since they can find their own photos in the online gallery. Definitely a lot easier than it used to be.
I keep my setup quick, easy, and flexible. I need to be able to quickly go from a large group of 10 people with Santa to a closeup of a newborn sleeping in Santa's arms. I use my 18-70 Nikkor Zoom to give me the range I need. For lighting I use a Stroboframe flash bracket with an SB800 flash using the supplied diffuser. I have an SB600 on a stand (hidden behind the Christmas tree)aimed at the ceiling to giver some separation.
Pictured above are my two assistants for the day, Deanna and Shelby, thanking Santa for his help :)