But once guests step through a sliding barn door, they are transported to the North Pole. Christmas music plays in the background, and the room is kept brisk. Scenes of holiday nostalgia are presented in juxtaposition with the warehouse space surrounding them.
In those scenes, stories are read with Santa, children build snowmen, and toys are showcased in a workshop. It is all part of an award-winning studio dreamed up by McKinney photographer Chris Fritchie.
At The Magic of Santa Fritchie captures his subjects in photos with Saint Nick. Children meet Santa and explore the winter scenery with him during portrait sessions under Fritchie’s direction. Hand-built sets comprise the base of his images, which Fritchie later edits digitally to create a look inspired by the artwork of American artist Norman Rockwell.
“It’s an experience. We have a really good time. We have fun,” Fritchie said. “The kids don’t even really realize they’re getting their pictures taken. Once we get started, they’re just hanging out with Santa.”
Before discovering the magic of Santa, Fritchie almost quit photography. •After nearly a decade working as a photographer for magazines, Fritchie said he felt “burned out.” So he quit the magazine and was borrowing a space at the Adriatica Hotel in McKinney while he fulfilled commercial photography contracts. There, the idea for The Magic of Santa was born.
“On the last day we were shooting, my wife was there, and I came up, and I said, ‘You know, I got this crazy idea. I’ve been looking around at different things, and I think if we did high-end Santa portraits at this location in this community, I think it would be received really, really well,’” he said.
The Magic of Santa opened November 2015. In its first year, Fritchie said he had hoped the studio would have 15 sessions. Instead, it had 50. And during the 2018 holiday season, the business had more than 200 sessions.
The studio is open year-round, but during slower months, Fritchie works with other photographers and trains them on how to take Santa portraits.
Fritchie credits one thing as the key to his success.
“It comes down to great images,” Fritchie said. “Great images and a great experience.”
The Magic of Santa
215 N. Kentucky St., McKinney
Hours: Sun.-Sat.:10 a.m.-6 p.m. After hours by appointment.