Here are a thirty gift ideas for photographers. The suggested price range is also listed. Happy shopping!
1. Portable Reflectors. A photographer can't have too many light modifiers. Reflectors come in so many sizes and configurations. Snoop around to see what they have and choose a model they don't have. Many of these fold up into tiny cases. Or think of buying a reflector holder for one they already own. ($ 30- $ 150)
2. Chips and more chips . Not the potato kind – the memory card kind. Find out what format their cameras take – Compact Flash, Smart Media, whatever, and buy a couple more. They are very inexpensive to buy in large capacities. Pop out one from their camera or chip carrier and note the maker and model, and try to buy the same or larger memory capacity. ($ 20- $ 100)
3. Portable Hard Drive / Image Tank . These battery-operated devices are pocket-sized and will copy the pictures from a camera chip and save a duplicate on the hard drive. Some of them also have a nice preview screen and TV output so you can enjoy the photos as a slide show. They act as a hard drive when plugged into a laptop. They are perfect for on-location shots or long vacations where you don't have your computer with you. ($ 100- $ 300)
4. Another Lens! If your photographer has a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera, then pick their brain about lenses they have and want. This is one area where photographers are very picky, so may want to go as far as having them describe the specific make and model. If you want to go "all out", get them to tell you about their dream lens – it's the one that they really want, (but probably don't need), and won't buy for themselves. ($ 100- $ 5000)
5. Filters for lenses. There are a variety of filters or modifiers that can be put on lenses. You'll want to know what size lens (measured in millimeters), and what they have or want. A couple ideas are: a circular polarizer (which reduces glare and deepens sky colors), close-up lenses (to magnify and get close to small stuff), and neutral-density filters (which reduce light in some or all of the image) . ($ 30- $ 150)
6. Monopod and swivel. A monopod is like a walking stick with a thread on the top. It's a great stand-in for a tripod when you can't use it. Better even, get a swivel head for the top of the monopod and your photographer can rotate the camera from horizontal to vertical and still get the benefits of the stability of a monopod. (Monopod: $ 30- $ 100; Swivel: $ 30- $ 100)
7. Inexpensive waterproof point and shoot digital camera . Regardless of their main brand, having a small pocket-sized waterproof digital camera is great for everyday use, scouting locations, and the spontaneous shoot opportunities. These cameras have great resolution and make nice images; some even shoot video. Waterproof means you can swim with it, shoot in the rain, and leave it in your sweaty pants pocket all day. ($ 200- $ 400)
8. Subscription to online photography forum or training . There are some great pay sites on the net. DIgital Wedding Forum is tailored to new professionals as well as seasoned wedding and portrait photographers. Web Photo School is great for learning the fundamentals of photography and editing. Find one that matches their interests and they will have hours of online learning and enjoyment. ($ 100- $ 200 / yr)
9. Subscription to photography magazine . There are many good magazines out there. You may want to consider going to a good book store and picking up one copy of several different magazines with a note attached that you'll buy a subscription to their favorite one. That way they get to check out many publications and you'll be sure that they will really enjoy the subscription. ($ 30- $ 80)
10. Destination Vacation. OK, this one may cost you some time and money, but as long as you're patient and let your photographer stop and shoot the flowers, you'll both have a great time and they will really appreciate the opportunity to travel and shoot. ($ cheap- $ not cheap)
11. Photo Sharing Gift Certificate . If they already use a favorite online site or local lab, get them a gift card or certificate. Otherwise, check out the best stores and sites and choose one to load up a starter account or gift card. ($ you pick)
12. Make a product from their work. My wife once made me a calendar from some of my images and I loved it. Think about how you could highlight their work. Check out some of my other articles on creative ways to display or use photographs. ($ 10- $ 100)
13. Hook them up with a mentor. Find out who they admire in the photographic world, and arrange for them to meet them. Or, try to get a book or video of theirs signed or personalized. Best case, see of their mentor would bring them in for training or some coaching session. ($ large range)
14. Gift certificate to a framing shop . You can never have too many framed prints. ($ 50- $ 500)
15. Gift card to major photo store . Whether it's your local store or one of the large ones like Adorama or Beach Camera, your photographer will find some great stuff to buy. ($ 50- $ 500)
16. Gaffer's Tape . Black tape that won't leave a residue like duct tape. It's pricey but it's great stuff. ($ 35 / roll)
17. Camera case or backpack . As they get more stuff, they will need more or larger camera bags. Or roller cases or bags for lights and other stuff. ($ 30-100)
18. Flash bracket for camera. These are also a bit personal to fit their needs, but if they shoot with external flash, a bracket may be great for their needs. If they don't have an external flash, that may also be a good idea. Make sure you get their camera specifics for the flash and bracket. (Bracket: $ 100-300; Flash: $ 200- $ 400)
19. High-end printer . There are some truly amazing printers for amateurs and professionals. Some will print on large size paper and create output rivaling the large labs. Variations on this theme are paper samplers, note card stock, and combination printer-scanners. (Printer: $ 300- $ 2000)
20. Slide Show software. Who doesn't want to watch slick slide presentations with music? Does your photographer make or sell slide shows yet? ProShow Gold is a great start, and Proshow Producer is even better. ($ 50- $ 300)
21. Color Calibration. Every monitor is different. It is essential to be able to see true colors on your monitors. These devices will calibrate screens and sometimes even printers and other devices to known settings so the color seen on the screen is accurate. ($ 150- $ 500)
22. Photographer's Vest. Yes, very nerdy, but also very functional. ($ 50- $ 150)
23. Camera clothing. Weather protective covers for cameras will help in a drizzle or other inclement weather. Waterproof housings allow the camera to be used underwater. Blimps will reduce the shutter sound to allow use in very quiet situations. These are custom fit to camera and sometimes lenses so be careful to choose the right products. ($ 50- $ 200)
24. Find them a gig. Use your network and influence to get them a photographic opportunity that they would love to do. This is better for starter photographers – professionals may have different ideas. For more ideas, check out my article on 10 Great Ways to Grow as a Professional Photographer .
25. A New Body. Camera body that is. If they have an SLR, consider buying a duplicate body or one model up, if they take the same lenses. Having the flexibility of a backup camera or two lenses available immediately will make your photographer smile. ($ 1000- $ 8000).
26. Photography Books. There are great "how-to" books about every type of photography. Or consider getting them books on business or technology such as Photoshop or web design. Or pick up some coffee-table books with great photography that they can use for inspiration. ($ 10- $ 50)
27. Blank DVDs. Many photographers back up work on DVDs, and use them for slide shows. They'll appreciate having extras. Don't forget jewel cases if they use them. ($ 20- $ 50)
28. DVD / CD label printer. These are pretty specialized devices. They will allow the user to print any image on a special DVD or CD. If they present DVDs to anyone, this may be a great item for them. Note that some newer printers will also print directly on these same DVD or CDs. ($ 150- $ 300).
29. Proof Books or albums. If they print lots of proofs, don't hide them away in a box. Get them several albums so they can display them and use them to show others. There are some neat "self-stick" albums that let you press the print on an adhesive background and create a very professional album. ($ 10- $ 200)
30. More Power! This can be lithium AA batteries for those flashes and point and shoots, extra batteries for their camera model, portable batteries to run their lighting, and extension cords and power strips for all of their electronic toys. You can never have too many cords! ($ 10- $ 100)
How do you pick the right gift? You can print this and leave it out where your photographer will see it and get the hint and maybe circle a few things. You can ask them to build a "wish list" on one of the popular online merchants such as Amazon. Or, you can have one of their associates pick their brain on your behalf and report back.
To save some money, check out sites like eBay, Craigslist and other areas where people may be selling items. Also check out local camera stores for consigned or used equipment.
In any case, enjoy choosing and presenting one of these gifts to your photographer. They will appreciate the time and effort you spent!
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