Book Review: We Are Santa
Ron Cooper, 2020
New Release! A digital copy of this book was provided by Netgalley for the purpose of review.
Wow. WOW WOW WOW. This might be "just" a coffee table book, but it charmed my socks off.
The premise is simple. Photographer Ron Cooper recruited fifty professional Santas (talking to and interviewing even more) and took gorgeous photographs of them both in and out of costume. The book includes quotes, profiles of some Santas, and background information. The additional info is enough to establish some context for readers who might not be familiar with the history of Santa's look or the reality of the professional Santa gig, but it's not tedious even for those of us who know this world fairly well already.
The variety is fantastic. Santas in red but also other colors, in robes and coats and pajamas and kilts and cowboy boots and military camo and a pirate-theme and... Of course, there are lots of lovely fur trimmings, but also Hawaiian shirts, one in a red velvet top hat, and one in a full Bishop of Myra getup.
The focus is the big beautiful photos and the lush costumes and beards galore, but the book is also peppered with personal profiles that provide more depth for some Santas - why or how they started as Santa, favorite memories, and poignant anecdotes.
There are two black Santas, one Mrs. Claus, at least one Jewish Santa, and two young Santas in the book. I would have liked a little more diversity in those directions if possible, but maybe that's another book.
Overall this is just lovely and joyful, and I recommend it to anyone interested in the holiday aesthetic or in need of a visual hug. Plus, proceeds are going to Children's Hospital of Chicago.
The only hard thing about reading this book was realizing that in-person Santa visits are not happening for most kids this year. Here at Mainlining Christmas, we hope all Santas are doing okay out there.