NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano visited Long Island Selfie Studio and Selfie Clubhouse to take some holiday photos. Credit: Randee Daddona

Selfie on the Shelf season is in full swing. 

Just ask Levittown resident Jane Waldman, who headed to Selfie Clubhouse photo studio in Hicksville the first week in November for pictures that she'll use for her Christmas cards. 

Sporting dressy, color-coordinated outfits, Jane, her husband, Mark Braverman, their 22-year-old daughter, Elaina Braverman, and their son-in-law, Jose Cedeno-Chavez, posed alongside ornate shimmering holiday trees and brightly wrapped presents. The mean old Grinch joined them for one snap.

Jane Waldman and family took their holiday photos at the Selfie Clubhouse at the Broadway Mall in Hicksville on Nov. 4.  Credit: Ed Quinn

For Waldman, who works in public relations, the Clubhouse is a “fun and festive” gift that keeps on giving. It’s the third year in a row that she has jump-started the holidays there. It’s become a new tradition. 

“My family looks forward to doing it,” says Waldman. “We love the sets. For the holidays they go all out. They’re really cute, like theater sets that are very creative. I feel like a kid in a candy store. And it does get us all in the holiday spirit.”

Long Island Selfie Studio in Riverhead and PopUp Speakeasy in Port Jefferson Station are two more local businesses where holiday-themed scene-setting backdrops are ready for their close-ups when you’re ready for yours. DIY photography studios with interactive sets designed as backdrops for photos, videos and content creation have become a popular way to capture moments. 

“We have themed backgrounds for every season,” says Kalechi Noel, who launched Selfie Clubhouse in August 2021. Creating yuletide studio sets begins the minute Halloween is over. Spaces formerly packed with pumpkins and spooky ghosts are transformed into snug little winter wonderlands. “People like to get an early start,” she says. 

Variety is the spice of life — as well as selfies. All three studios have a number of backgrounds with holiday themes — from classic and traditional to monochromatic and modern to fun and fanciful. No matter what, you’re the shining star in each space. 

Eddilyn Jerez, 19, Eddy Jerez, and Jeisly Jerez, 14, of...

Eddilyn Jerez, 19, Eddy Jerez, and Jeisly Jerez, 14, of Riverhead take a family Christmas photo at Long Island Selfie Studio in Riverhead Nov. 5. Credit: Morgan Campbell

At PopUp Speakeasy, which launched in 2020 and changes location each year, owner Catherine Ovejas takes great pride in creating custom scenes “that are ready for a full-on magazine shoot.” 

One of her fan-favorite sets borrows inspiration from “A Christmas Story,” a holiday movie set in the 1940s. “For families who love that film, the set has become quite popular,” says Ovejas. Yes, there’s a leg lamp, a famous and fun prop from the movie.

PopUp Speakeasy has also offered “an over-the-top room that’s all pink all the time,” says Ovejas. Another scene creates “a winter cabin vibe,” she adds. 

Last year, Emi Pellegrino, 28, a professional singer based in Sound Beach, donned a vibrant red jumpsuit, brought her keyboard, and filmed her Christmas music video at PopUp Speakeasy amid ornate trees and giant ornaments. She plans on returning for a new video this year.

“I kind of bounced from room to room,” she says, adding that she set up a tripod and ring light. “I’m a control freak. I want to make sure I'm doing everything how I want to do it.” 

At Long Island Selfie Studio, which opened in June, owner Dioniser Rodriguez, 36, looks forward to her first Christmas. Her interest in capturing moments on Instagram and TikTok inspired her new business. 

“I’m into social media myself,” she says. “I wanted to make a place to create content.” Holiday-themed sets include a white room that sparkles with gold and silver accessories, a red room for a dramatic holiday pop, as well as the Grinch. “Everyone’s got their own favorite,” she says.

Rouby Henriquez, 35, a nurse who lives in North Babylon, went the DIY route at Selfie Clubhouse last Christmas. She snapped cute pics of her husband Willy, and their two daughters, Tessa and Talia in a room filled with toys and ornate holiday trees. 

“It was fun,” says Henriquez, whose family is heading back for another DIY shoot in late November. “I like the convenience. I’m a millennial. I’m good at taking pictures.”

WHAT TO KNOW

Cost Walk-ins may be available at some studios, but booking reservations are advised. DIY selfie rates run around $30 an hour per person and give access to multiple sets. Rates vary for use of in-house photographers and holiday packages. In addition to digital pics, prints may be an option.

Selfie Clubhouse; 460 Broadway Mall in Hicksville, selfieclubhouse.com, 516-595-7193.

Long Island Selfie Studio; 221 E. Main St. in Riverhead, longislandselfiestudio.com, 631-591-0259.

PopUp Speakeasy; Port Jefferson Station, address provided upon booking to keep the speakeasy secret fun alive; is planning another holiday location; popupspeakeasy.com, 631-743-5530.

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