We got ours done at harvey norman. Mr 2y9m was shy when we walked up this year, but let the photographer sit him on santas knee and was all smiles. Santa got a huge wave as we left.
We then seen another santa and ds wouldnt let me pass until he had given him a cuddle!
I'm not sure if it helped but I talked it up for about a week, and showed him last years pic saying we were seeing santa that day and he could have a photo on his knee etc.
He hadn't actually ever cried? He was a little unsure at 9mnths but didn't cry. 1y9m he was trying to slide off santas knee, and did, but they got the pic just as he started. No tears.
If he was genuinely distraught I wouldnt do it. I certainly wouldnt yell at him for fearing a stranger either I can't handle him cry so if just cut out losses!
Proudly brought to you by me and my autocorrect fail device.