We are excited to announce that this year EJP is teaming up with the Historic DeGroodt House in downtown Excelsior, the The Northern Express winter festival, and Waconia’s Famous Santa Claus to offer a special experience we hope will become an annual family tradition.

We are offering our Santa Photo Sessions that will be fun for all – including parents/caregivers! No lines, distractions, and cheezeball holiday decor. Give your kids the experience of meeting Santa in a beautiful old world home tastefully decorated for the holidays. Then stay for milk and cookies around the fire. We know you’ll love it!

Santa Sessions Excelsior MN
Santa Sessions Excelsior MN



Thursday Dec 2nd 2-7pm

Sunday Dec 4th 9-2pm

Thursday Dec 8th 9-2pm

Friday Dec 9th 2-7pm

Cost: $195

Location: The Historic DeGroodt House 369 George St Excelsior 55331

Includes: 15 minute time with Santa, cookies & milk after, and an online gallery where you can choose 8 images for digital file download. Extra images, prints, wall art available via online store as well!


As a mom of 2 boys, I’ve lived the “holiday shuffle” with little ones! You want them to have all of these amazing experiences of holiday magic, but sometimes the effort and stress of making that happen wears you out! Standing in a noisy line for an hour with screaming kids only to hear “your time is up” about one minute after your kids finally get up to Santa. Packing the bags and strollers only to have to park a mile away and haul them through a busy parking lot. The terrible elevator-holiday music in the background!

We want this to be different! We want you, the parent, to leave with a smile. Our idea here is to have a calm and peaceful experience where you are taken care of. We have helpers to take care of you and the kiddos, a beautiful space filled with the smells and sounds of an old world holiday, and enough time for even your shy kiddo to warm up to Santa.


During your time with Santa, Emily will sneakily be taking beautiful photos of your kiddos interacting with the big guy. If you’d like a family photo we can do that too. Make it special by bringing your child’s favorite book to read or christmas list to discuss. After your time with Santa, head out back for a beautifully decorated venue with milk & cookies and a bon fire. Walk to local shops and restaurants after your session for a fun day out!

Within 2 days after your Santa Session you will receive an email that links to your online gallery of images captured at your session. Choose your favorite 8 images from the gallery and download! You will also have the option to order any prints, framed artwork, or extra images straight from the gallery just in time for gifting!



About ten years ago, a family friend gave me a red suit with a fake beard and had faith in my jolly spirit.  I slipped it on and the magic began! With the help of another Santa friend, I began my career spreading holiday cheer at small events including Santa brunches, school events, private parties and more.  After a year or two my daughter took over as my agent and nicknamed me ‘Waconia’s Famous Santa’.  As a 60+ year Waconia native the catchy name has caught on! Everywhere I go, people called me “Santa!” From kids spying me at the grocery store to our local high school sports teams calling me out, I really have become Waconia’s Famous Santa. 

My reputation as Santa spread to the Minnesota Zoo and I spent two years doing visits with 100’s of excited kids.  In 2020 we got creative and started our favorite yearly events, private at home Santa experiences. Each year we continue to grow with in home visits while repeating Santa events at many of your favorite local stops.  As I look forward to each Santa season, I cherish all the memories from past years while looking forward to new events, new stories from the children and new adventures. 

Santa Photography Sessions
The Historic DeGroodt House Excelsior MN
Historic DeGroodt House



The DeGroodt House is a designated site within the Downtown Historic District, conveniently located ½ block off Water Street and three blocks from the Port of Excelsior on Lake Minnetonka, which is adjacent to the Commons park.
The House, built in 1899, was the long-time home of Reuben DeGroodt, a local political and civic leader and pioneering merchant.  The first DeGroodts arrived in Excelsior from Pennsylvania via oxcart in 1875 and built a large boarding house on Third Street.

In 1990 the house became Once Upon A Time Antiques, specializing in fine quality furnishings and objects.   Since 2016, the House has been used for intimate special events such as catered wine dinners, milestone celebrations, art classes, and indoor / outdoor events. 

Visit The Northern Express

Walk with Llamas and Reindeer, Shop a full holiday gift market of exceptional makers

Visit The Northern Express

Partake in winter-themed activities for the kids; Peek inside Santa’s Workshop, the Claus’ Kitchen, the North Pole Post, Elf Academy, a Hanukkah celebration and more

Visit The Northern Express

Get lost in the Christmas Tree forest, Celebrate the Festival of Lights (Final Weekend)

The Historic DeGroodt House Excelsior MN


1. What is included in the price?

The registration price includes a 15 minute time slot with Santa without any distractions, lines looking over your shoulder, or extra noise. You’ll recieve an online gallery with over 15+ images, and choose your favorite 8 images to download. Downloadable image files from an online gallery that are printable up to 5X7. After your session we’ll have milk & cookies and chairs around the bonfire in the cute pine grove behind the house.

You will have the option to purchase more images, high-quality prints, framed prints, and other gifts right from your gallery. This is not included in the original fee and is completely optional for you to purchase if you’d like.

2. What is your refund policy?

We do not give refunds, but will honor a transfer if you give your slot to another family or a credit of $200 toward a future session at EJP. Please contact right away if you know you will not be able to make your session and we can try to help you transfer your spot to another family!

2. Can I see examples of what the photos will look like?

Since this is our first year offering Santa Sessions, we don’t have example images to show quite yet, but will be posting images on this site and @emilyjohnphotography on IG and FB as we get the house decorated!

Our theme is “historic vintage christmas” so the colors will be lots of natural wood tones, glass and gold ornaments, red and white garlands, and greenery. This is not a “modern white” style like we’ve seen in recent years, but more dark or natural tones! 

3. What if the weather is bad?

In the off chance we have temps below 0 degrees or snowstorms that might make it unsafe to drive or be outdoors with small children, we will cancel the event and try to reschedule for another day in December. In this case if we cannot find a reschedule date that works for you, we will reimburse you or give you a credit toward a future session at EJP studio!

4. How many kids can attend one session?

Our space will easily accomodate one or two families at a time but not a big crowd. This is an old farmhouse with smaller rooms, so a large crowd simply won’t fit.

We ask that only one nuclear family attend a 15 minute session. If a grandparent or two is in the mix, that works too. If, however, you have several families interested in attending together, please try to schedule each family seperately in back to back slots so you might come together but still have enough time for the children of each family to be with Santa and get thier own set of photographs.

5. Can I bring a pet?

Unfortunately not at this time. If you’d like a photograph of your pet, please get in touch with Emily for a separate session at EJP Studios, we LOVE working with family pets and can schedule more time and space to make sure we get good images!

6. Can we get a holiday family picture while we are there?

Yes, we can do a family picture! Your registration includes 8 images, and if you’d like to use a few minutes of your session time to do something specific we would love to accomodate you!

8. Where are you located?

Santa Sessions will take place at The Historic DeGroot House located at 369 George St Excelsior MN 55331.


If you’d like to schedule a family, senior or headshot session with EJP studios, we are located at 35 Water St Excelsior 55331, but often go on location as well!



Your online gallery will be filled with beautiful images of your child & family making these cornerstone holiday memories!

Easily download your images using the online downloader feature! 

Order prints, framed artwork and other fun holiday gifts using the online store feature.

Come back year after year as your children grow up and collect a story of their holiday experience in childhood through beautiful photos! 


Emily John

It is my belief that every single person who comes to me is beautiful and is worthy of being celebrated. No matter your age, size, shape, or how uncomfortable you might feel about it, I will help you shine. Each session with me is a collaborative, creative project where you will feel comfortable and confident being yourself and having fun.

As a mom of two boys, I completely understand that life gets busy. It can be hard to prioritize something like professional photography. I’m right there with you doing the pickups, dropoffs, scheduling events, volunteering at church, and all the other “hats” we parents pile on. Unfortunately, I also know the sadness of losing a loved one and digging through old boxes of prints or cell phone folders to try and find something (anything!) that comes close to a portrait of us together. We often don’t realize until it’s too late just how much we value a single image of someone that means the world to us.

It isn’t easy, and it definately is never perfect, but today we are creating the legacy our children will remember in the future. Having photographs and artwork of us ‘as we are’ today is a very important piece of this legacy. My kids deserve to see beautiful images of me holding & kissing them, and of our family together right now. If you feel the same way, then I can’t wait to work with you!

film photograph by Jeff Finc, Moonlake Multimedia

Emily John Photography

Emily John is a wonderful photographer that comes highly recommended. Her eye for family photography is creative, kind and candid. She is a blast to work with! Emily has a way of getting children to smile bright but naturally and allows their personalities to show through.

Jess T

Her work speaks for itself, you can tell Emily has a deep respect and passion for the importance of documenting life through images.

Christine C

Emily is a wonderful and creative photographer – not only does she take amazing photos but she makes you feel so comfortable during the session. She’s extremely nice and is a delight to work with. I would recommend her to anyone looking for family photos, senior portraits, business photos or headshots.

Tiffany B