Picture of Olde style radar station to track Santa
Every year, my boys and I are tasked by my wife* to come up with a Christmas card to send out to family and friends. And, every year there are the usual challenges to produce something creative and that tops last years efforts.

This year, the original concept was to find a 1930s motorcycle with a side car and figure out how to get it up to the studio. Well, I found one 1934 BMW, in cherry red. But, it was about a foot too wide to fit in the elevator. And the owner was understandably reluctant to separate it for the low budget we had for prop rentals. I even offered to raise my price to 2 six-packs of beverage of his choice. But, we were turned down and had to table that idea. (still looking, if you know anyone).

Plan B was to place the boys some place like 1960s NASA or 1980s War Games (Matthew Broderick, 1983. Look it up.) or, perhaps, Hunt For Red October style of thing.

Which would require the creation of a prop radar screen station and a little photoshop work.

*Disclaimer: Yes, she wants a nice card every year. And, yes, I am the one who decides to turn it into a full pre- and post- production project requiring multiple props, costumes, special effects and a generally quirky sense of humor. But, she loves me anyway.

Step 1: The Plan

Picture of The Plan
Any good, concept based photoshoot starts with a plan. I needed to sketch up the basic idea, both to figure out the shopping list and to share and get approvals from the talent (my boys) and my client (my wife).

You can see that, at this point, the station was going to be Ice Station Blitzen.

lschwartz3 years ago
Most important, working with your kids. That's a tradition they'll carry on with theirs! Thanks for sharing.

mckeephoto (author)  lschwartz3 years ago
Thank you, Larry. That is the most important part! I love the fact that my 12 year old has just graduated to soldering and is now taking on projects that would stymie me. The teacher is slowly becoming the student.
When my daughter was in elementary school, I'd spend one day each semester helping in class. We did lots of fun things including: a working solar water heater, demo of the sun's light spreading over the tilted globe causing seasonal temperature changes, and cooking as the pioneers did. We made apple cobbler, baking it in a wooden baking dish in the cafeteria's oven. Unfortunately, I set the disk on fire!!!

When my daughter was 12 years old (same as your son!) she and my wife came to visit me during a one year assignment to Phoenix. I gave her a road map and explained how it worked. Pointing out where we were and where the Grand Canyon was, I asked her to tell me how to get there, including some side trips. We got in the car and she "navigated" making NO mistakes for 250 miles. It was so much fun that when we went back home, we set up a father-daughter "road rally" for her Girl Scout Troop. That was followed by a picnic. Great adventure!

mckeephoto (author)  lschwartz3 years ago
Lol! That is awesome! Our kids are usually a lot smarter and cleverer than we give them credit.
Nice. I voted for you too. Btw, it would have been better if it said 'It was a silent night'... ;P
mckeephoto (author)  Antzy Carmasaic3 years ago
Oh, man! I totally missed that opportunity. Thank you.
nh4x4Jeep3 years ago
I LOVE IT!!!  GREAT Job!  And what WONDERFUL creativity you have!!! 
Thanks for sharing!!!  =)
mckeephoto (author)  nh4x4Jeep3 years ago
Heh, heh. Over the top is fun!
mack_jigger3 years ago
Hi, thank you for this and excellent job of finding projects with your sons. Don't kn ow if it's important or not, but I gave you my vote, there was a button to vote and clicked it. Hopefully a lot of our fellows readers did likewise.

Happy Holidays to you, your family and all the readers and staff.
mckeephoto (author)  mack_jigger3 years ago
Hey mack_jigger!

Always important to me is if I have successfully told the story! Thanks for your vote!

mikeasaurus3 years ago
I love this, thanks for showing us how you did it!
askjerry3 years ago
I like how you converted a bucket into a radar screen... that kind of ingenuity is what sets someone like you apart from everyone else. Nicely done!

mckeephoto (author)  askjerry3 years ago
janusian thinking! Wish I could do it on command..
booturtle3 years ago
LOVE THIS! What a great fun Christmas card and great memories getting to do this together with you. You rock! And I also now want to be on your Christmas card mailing list...and see the past creations!
mckeephoto (author)  booturtle3 years ago
Thanks, booturtle!

As it happens, I have a few of our past Christmas experimental photos up at my blog.

Can't help but be proud of my boys who participate every year. It started with just some brain storming. Then, some set building.

Now, it is hard to say who is more enthusiastic for the project, them or me! And, big credit to my wife, who encourages us to come up with these crazy ideas.

If you're curious for past efforts, you can check them out here: http://mckeephotography.com/tag/christmas/
sniffydogs3 years ago
Love the boys!
A very nice piece of work, your attention to detail does you credit and clearly shows through in the final product. If you like that, you might like this -

NORAD Tracks Santa
pikachu45923 years ago
Very impresive, your creativity definatly show and pride you take in making all details.
mckeephoto (author)  pikachu45923 years ago
Thanks! Life is in the details. ;-)
Dr.Bill3 years ago
I posted a link to it on my FaceBook Page-Very Good !
mckeephoto (author)  Dr.Bill3 years ago
Thank you, drbill! I appreciate it!
Many kudos to you, mckeephoto. This is fantastic.
mckeephoto (author)  valhallas_end3 years ago
Thanks, Valhallas_end! I forgot to mention that the whole thing was under $30. Actually a record for me. Could have been less if I hadn't cleaned out the basement this summer!
That is an awesome idea! Nice job!