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The Real Santa: Photo Series by Kate Abbey

Published Dec 21, 2022

UK-based director and photographer Kate Abbey is celebrating the holiday season in a special way, with her candid portraits of Santa. She told us a little bit about the inspiration behind her new series entitled ‘We don’t see him. That’s what makes him special’:

“I’ve been wanting to properly explore Santa for years.”

“There was something about his outlandish representation that I find intriguing and I wanted to reduce the myth of the perfect, jolly fella and bring him closer to me – into the real world. After all, he’s a just an everyday bloke dressed up in red clothes, heading off to do his job and earn an income.

I started to explore Santa in the everyday before he got to work, but it was the imaginative words of my niece that first brought sense to the process. The make-believe world she described, with superpowers and fantasy ideas, that lead me to forming a real version of how he actually went about his business. Following on, I enlisted 20 more little minds to feed me their imaginations culminating in the booklet below.

The Santas I saw weren’t magical at all. They had naff, PVC boot covers with Velcro fasteners and fake fur trimmings – there was nothing necessarily exceptional about them and yet I found their quirky personalities and individual natures more remarkable then the perfect persona of who they portrayed.”

— Kate Abbey

More photography inspiration Visit her website

“He’s big and fat and not as tall as daddy.” — Nina (6)
“He lives in the North Pole — in a gingerbread house castle.” — Alma (9)
“He’s pulled on a sleigh by magical reindeers.” — Billy (8)
“The reindeer sleep in the stables next to the giant cabin.” — Elliot (10)
“He has big black boots and really long legs.” — Remy (6)
“He has to go really fast as there’s only 12 hours in one night.” — Rosa (8)
“He feeds his reindeer rotten carrots to make them go faster.” — Thomas (8)
“He has a magic sack,and when all the elves have jumped on it, it will be just a small sack.” — Elliot (10)
“He says to the reindeer where to go and they just point that way with their horns.” — Joshua (6)
“His reindeer probably give off some unknown gas that allows them to walk on air.” — Alice (9)
“If there’s no chimney he gets in with Christmas magic, or a second passage.” — Kit (8)
“He’s very knowledgeable — he knows where everybody is and stuff.” — Billy (8)
“He eats milk and cookies — and maybe melted ice.” — Kit (8)
“Red hat, red jacket, red everything! But outside of the jacket there’s white and fluffy.” — Billy (8)
“If he can’t get down the chimney, he goes through the windows and doors.” — Gracie (8)
“The reindeer sleep in little sheds underneath the ground, kinda like a little underground bunker type thing.” — Harry (8)
“For the rest of the year he just relaxes and enjoys doing stuff-like high-fiving elves, like stroking reindeer, and making snowmen.” — Harry (8)
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