What Does Your Photographer-Friend Want for Christmas?

Last year I mentioned to one person I wanted a coffee mug that looked like a lens… and I received three. I’m not complaining. Hell, one of them is actually for soup and I could really use that out in the field on cold days! I got a nifty Lens Critter wrapped around one of them and that thing is worth it’s weight in gold, I tell you.

Undoubtedly you have a friend or a relative who is a photographer, or simply enjoys photography as a hobby. Either way, Christmas is around the corner- do you know what they really want this year? Have you even thought about what to get them yet? If you’re anything like me, the answer is “no” on both accords.

When a group of photographers I am friends with were asked what they wanted for Christmas, the number one response was:

Please don’t give me any more lens themed coffee mugs.

Below is a list of excellent Christmas gift ideas and a couple extravagant wish-list kind of items that we are all drooling over this year. A gift for every budget!

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First, and most obviously- Gift Cards! 

santa gift card

But where do photographers shop?

A new camera strap! Let’s be honest, the straps that Sony, Nikon, and Canon send out with their camera bodies is a bit… commercial. They are never comfortable, hardly long enough, and they’re a marketing ploy that no one is even getting paid for. There are a few companies out there who make fun, comfy, and functional camera straps:

  • My Funky Camera – This site makes it easy- One price for every strap. The only draw-back? They are 26 inches. Never fear! Each strap is customizable and can be 40 inches, or even adjustable. Also available are the quick release clasps, spinning tripod mount, and the shoulder pad. $32
  • Bloom Theory – Beautifully crafted camera straps for every shooter- scarves, sequins, lace, and knit, oh my! $35 – $130
  • Black Rapid – Functional, breathable, and most importantly, padded camera straps that serve a purpose… or two! They also carry wrist straps, lens caps, bags, and fasteners. $20 – $134

 Magazine subscriptions seem to find their way onto wish lists every year. And why shouldn’t they? They’re generally a cheap (I hate that word) item to pick up and you get something new once a month for a year- or even two!

  • Popular Photography – Draws upon top professionals for its comprehensive coverage. Find reviews of the latest equipment, how-to articles and authoritative test reports in each issue of Popular Photography. $24 for 24 issues
  • American Photo – The premier showcase for outstanding photography. A reflection of modern culture through the camera’s lens, American Photo magazine inspires with its coverage of art, journalism, celebrity, sports and politics.  $22 for 12 issues
  • Professional Photographer – The official magazine of Professional Photographers of America. Each issue of Professional Photographer magazine contains practical lessons in the art, technology and business of professional photography. $20 for 12 issues

 A new card reader! Every time a photographer snaps a photo, a piece of electronic hardware becomes obsolete it seems. As quickly as a piece of new hardware hits the shelves, it is out dated. I am a Lexar snob, and so are most of my photog friends, so I don’t have much else to say about these…

lexar card reader

Memory Cards are never going out of style. Which is why your friend will be grateful for a new, fast card. Make sure you’re buying a brand name card with a decent upload speed. I wouldn’t go smaller than an 8GB card or larger than a 16GB. Why? Because if the card is faulty or becomes damaged while your friend is shooting, they’ve just lost their whole day of shooting if they’re putting everything on one 64GB card, ya dig? My camera uses CF cards, so here are my options…

  • Lexar Professional 1066x 16GB – The Lexar Professional 1066x 16GB CompactFlash card lets you quickly capture and transfer high-quality photos and 1080p full-HD, 3D, and 4K video, with a read transfer speed up to 1066x (160MB/s). $49

  • Lexar Professional 1066x 32GB – The Lexar Professional 1066x 32GB CompactFlash card lets you quickly capture and transfer high-quality photos and 1080p full-HD, 3D, and 4K video, with a read transfer speed up to 1066x (160MB/s). $83

  • Lexar Professional 3400x 32GB CFast 2.0 – The Lexar Professional 3400x 32GB CFast 2.0 CompactFlash card lets you quickly capture and transfer high-quality photos and 1080p full-HD, 3D, and 4K video, with a read transfer speed up to 3400x (510MB/s). $180

A new laptop! Again, with these electronics that are outdated by the time they arrive to your door step. Every professional photographer needs a mobile computer for on-the-go communications, editing, website work, marketing…

  • Apple MacBook Pro – 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.4GHz, 16GB memory, 256GB PCIe-based flash storage, Intel Iris Pro Graphics $1999 – $2499
  •  Asus N550JK – Intel Core i7 2.4GHz, 8GB memory, 1TB HDD $799 – $1062

Random hardware, wires, and gadgets for around the studio never disappoint. For the pro photographer with their own studio, know that they dream of (if they don’t already) shooting tethered. We photogs love to chimp (even if we don’t admit it) and looking at a 3.5″ screen kinda sucks… We always have a use for extra clamps, stands, etc.

  • Tether Tools – Tether Tools aims to be the definitive solution provider for the highest quality tethered photography equipment. They carry every piece of gear you could imagine for shooting tethered. Prices vary wildly.
  • Gary Fong – Gary Fong has developed the most effective line of photographic flash accessories in the world – the Lightsphere®. Their diffusion devices improve both digital and film photography for both professional and amateur photographers. Buy a kit, accessories, or purchase individually. $10 – $1022
  • Camera Creatures – These fun little guys help in a major way! One of my toughest sessions to pose is, without a doubt, small children. With my handy dandy camera creature, the children (and everyone else) look right into my lens- usually smiling and giggling. This little guy is worth his weight in gold, I tell you! $20

Wireless triggers and receivers. These make OCF a breeze and no longer a dream.

Lens filters! There are some preeeetty cool lens filters out there that create some amazing and jaw-dropping effects. They aren’t too expensive and they will last a lifetime if taken care of properly. At the very least, you should have a UV filter on every lens to protect the lens’ glass.

  • Hoya – Started in Japan in 1941, Hoya knows what they are doing and they are a top name in lens filters. They carry UV, ND, colored, and special effect filters. $4 – $399
  • Cokin – This company carries step rings; UV, ND, and special effects filters; and even creative lenses. Try a kit or buy individually! Prices vary wildly.

All tablets are not created equal. Know that. That iPad is handy with it’s contract-signing features, but let’s be honest… no one actually enjoys (trying) to edit on one of these things. Wacom kind of owns the market these days, and I will admit to being a “brand snob” right now. I love their products. I started using their Bamboo Tablet back in 2006. I haven’t looked back since…

  • Cintiq 24HD Touch – Go big or go home, right? Wacom’s best-in-class desktop creative pen display. This expansive pen display experience adds multi-touch gesture support. You’ll find yourself completely immersed in your work, a pressure-sensitive pen in one hand as you rotate, zoom, and position your canvas with the other. The Cintiq 24HD touch incorporates Wacom’s pen pressure sensitivity with our best color and display performance. $2999
  • Intuos Pro Large – More than enough for your average professional photographer. This pen tablet combines Wacom’s finest pen capabilities with intuitive multi-touch support. Gain precision and control, speed your workflow, and take advantage of all the pressure-sensitive capabilities in your favorite creative software, thanks to the innovations built into the Intuos Pro. $499
  • Intuos Pen & Touch Medium – Great for a hobbyist or amateur photographer. Make your world a more creative place. With a large surface area, this is a great pen tablet for art projects like digital painting, sketching, or concepting your ideas. Make broader brushstrokes, and find your creative zone. You’ll enjoy all the benefits of pen input, plus the use of touch on the tablet surface. Inspire. Create. Imagine. $199

We also enjoy…

  • Anything personalized!
  • Lights stands.
  • Things from Photojojo.com. What things? ALL THE THINGS!
  • Clips and clamps of all shapes and sizes.
  • Sandbags! Sandbags? Yes! Sandbags! Preferably brightly colored ones.
  • Manfrotto monopods and tripods.
  • Lenses! There are far too many to pick only a handful for a shameless plug. This is another blog entry entirely!
  • Picture frames. Simple enough. Leave enough empty frames around and you may just inspire a photographer.

 When buying a gadget for a photog, you need to know a few things…

  • Make and Model of their camera
  • If you’re buying lens caps, filters, or identifiers, you need to know the lens thread diameter for each lens
  • If their camera takes CF or SD cards
  • MAC or PC

If YOU are the photographer and you want your friends to know what to get you this year, be sure to create an Amazon Wish List, or send them a link to this article for reference!

Did I miss something? Did you friend ask for something different, but equally as awesome? Comment and tell me about it!

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Comments (6)

Awesome ideas. I will steer clear from the lens cup. hahaha

I just bought something for a friend of mine after reading this. Refreshing ideas for such a daunting task. Thanks!

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