So it’s that time of year where you’re looking for gift ideas for a photographer but you don’t have an extra $20,000 for a Leica S camera. Fortunately for you, there’s a myriad of affordable photography related gifts out there. That being said, if you’re the type of person that thinks a toilet paper dispenser shaped like a roll of 35mm film sounds like the perfect idea, this may not be the gift list for you.
The most awkward and anxiety inducing moment in holiday gift giving always comes when someone unwraps a gift and you see them struggling to mask their disappointment in what you got them. With photographers, gift giving can be daunting, what can they use that they don’t already have? Maybe there’s some photographers out there that really would love that toilet paper dispenser but I’m skeptical.
Lens cleaner. Camera lenses attract dust. All the dust it seems sometimes. A $30 Zeiss Lens Cleaning Kit is perfect. And it’s easy to think, “well, every photographer already has cleaning lenses figured out.” They do, but in reality too many of these kits is not something I’d ever complain about. I’ve lost more of the microfiber cloths than I can even count. I run out of cleaning solution. Cleaning kits are just handy to have around.
Memory cards. I try and keep as many of these around and spread out as much as possible. Far too many times I’ve arrived at a location and found I forgot to put my memory card back in. I will never in my life complain about having spare memory cards. I prefer the Lexar 64GB Professional cards but there’s an array of cheaper options out there as well. I’d rather have a spare memory card than no memory card at all.
Memory card case. The way camera lenses collect dust, loose memory cards like to disappear. Along with your memories and work. There’s multiple options but the $20 Pelican Memory Card Case is one of the nicer options. Waterproof and solid material from a reliable company.
Photography books. Whether for inspiration or learning, there’s a ton of examples. And it’s a little more traditional. Memory cards are certainly useful, but there’s something a bit warmer and personal about giving and receiving a book. From photography composition to the history of the camera there’s nearly an infinite amount of topics.
Portable External Hard Drive. Sure, increased data storage isn’t sexy – but it sure beats a year membership to the Jelly of the Month Club. Digital photo files take up space, lots of it. I can’t imagine a time where I won’t need more storage space for all of my photos as they accumulate year after year. The SanDisk 500GB Extreme Portable External SSD is great for anybody. At $105 it’s no tiny purchase it’ll be well appreciated.
Gift cards. Let’s just skip the debate on whether gift cards are an appropriate gift – some say it’s lazy and some say it’s efficient. While we all should agree gift cards are indeed a brilliant marketing scheme designed to entice the recipient to spend even more than the value of the card, at the end of the day, a photographer would rather put $25 towards something they are gonna lots of use out of rather than another lens shaped coffee mug. B&H Photo or Amazon should do.
Drones. Maybe this is the wrong list to include a higher ticket item such as a drone. It may have crossed your mind, or you may even hate drones. In many cities it’s hard to fly them, they’re banned in national parks but something about flying them invokes the imagination. The DJI Mavic Pro for $800 or the DJI Mavic 2 Pro for $1500 are powerful and – especially important – compact for travel. Some perspectives, you just can’t capture from the ground with your camera.
This isn’t meant to make photographers seem like an ungrateful bunch, it’s more to make your gift giving more efficient. People by nature want to give gifts than can be enjoyed and photography just happens to be an expensive hobby and/or profession so it’s not always easy to know what kind of gift is going to be helpful. Hopefully this does help.