Its that time of year again! Time to break out the credit cards to do a little shopping for those you love (and for some, those that you can moderately tolerate)
There are several photographers' blogs I follow who do a gift guide for photographers every year but the one thing I've noticed is that, most of the gifts they suggest are often a little pricey. So, for those on a somewhat tighter budget, I thought it would be a neat idea to do a holiday gift guide for photographers with gift recommendations that are a little more inexpensive. Many of these I own and use, and some of these are items I'd like to have, hint hint.
Hopefully this list will give you some ideas on what to get your photographer loved ones for the holidays this year! In no particular order, here we go…
1. One of my most used items in my camera bag is the Lumiquest SBIII mini softbox. I absolutely love this small, collapsible soft box and it is always in my camera bag.
2. Another favorite, small softbox of mine is the Honl Traveller8. It folds up nicely in any camera bag, has an 8" diameter face, is easy to use and only uses about 1 stop of light. It makes a great key light when used in close or an awesome hairlight/kicker light!
3. All of the Honl products in my opinion totally rock. They are built rock solid, do exactly what you want, and considering the quality, are quite cost effective. So rather than single out each Honl product, I'm going to lump them all in one group.
4. If you're in to coloring your flashes with the use of gels, then there is no better gel kit than the Strobist Gel Collection. It has all the necessary gels for tungsten and flourescent light conversions plus, plenty of dramatic colors to creates cool highlights and backgrounds. This kit also comes with the Lumiquest gel holder!!
5. Sooner or later, every photographer starts to get aches and pains from carrying gear and having that heavy camera hang around your neck. That's why I switched my camera strap to the Black Rapid RS-7. This strap slings over your body instead of around your neck and gives you super, easy and quick access to your camera. Do your poor, aching body a favor and check one of these out!
6. Another favorite light modifier of mine is the Westcott Double-Fold 43" Shoot Thru Umbrella. It creates beautiful, soft light, folds down compactly to fit in any camera bag, and also comes with a black backing so it can be used as a bounce umbrella too.
7. Know how hard it is to see your LCD screen outside during sunny conditions? Well there's a great solution for that, the Hoodman Loupe! Just carry one of these around your neck and pop it over your LCD to see crisp, clear images. Anyone I know who has one of these absolutely loves them!
8. If you're in to using off camera flash, then a good, compact light stand is indispensable! My favorite compact stand is the Manfrotto 5001b Nano Light Stand. It will easily hold your flash and any of your favorite modifiers, plus it folds down to a very portable size.
9. Another cool tool I have grown to love is gaffer's tape. You can literally do anything with this tape and its been a standard in the film industry for years. You can tape flashes to wall, tape down backgrounds, use it to tape modifiers to your lights and the greatest thing about it is, NO sticky residue left behind! I have a roll of this in every camera bag …and they're cheap!
10. One of my favorite, cheap light modifiers for speedlights is the Stofen Omnibounce. They make these for just about every model flash. This little modifier is cool device for emulating "bare-bulb" type flash. There are much more expensive mods out there that are similar, but these do the same job, and are much cheaper.
11. How many times have you needed to put a speedlight somewhere but a lightstand wouldn't do the trick and you didn't have someone to hold it for you? Well, if that happens, you should check out the Manfrotto Justin Clamp. This is a spring clip with a mini ballhead attached that will allow you to stick your flash to any surface that can be clamped on.
12. If your photographer friend who you're buying a gift for has any kind of sense of humor whatsoever, then pick them up a What The Duck plush toy. Its guaranteed to put a smile on their face. You can get these on the What The Duck website, along with a chuckle or two.
13. Every photographer should have a good reflector. They have so many uses and fold down nice and compact to be carried anywhere. My personal favorite is the Westcott 5-in-1 Reflector. It has 5 different reflector colors to use and is top quality!
14. As many of you know, it seems coffee and photographers go hand in hand. I'm not sure why this is, but I suppose the long hours of work involved and the inability to afford better drugs (kidding) leads us to consuming mass amounts of caffeine. If this is your photographer friend, then they will love the new camera lens coffee mugs that are available. You can get the Nikon mugs HERE and the Canon mugs HERE. Your photographer friend or family member will love these
15. Photographers tend to use A LOT of batteries, so much so, that regular batteries just won't do the trick. So its important to get a good set of rechargeables that will last a long time. Probably the best on the market are the PowerEx 2700mAh NiMH batteries. These will last forever! Pick up a couple of packs because you can never have to many batteries!
16. If you're going to get the good batteries, then you should also pick up one of the best chargers on the market, the PowerEx 8-Cell Charger. Not only does it recharge your batteries, but it also reconditions them so they will last longer and you can use the 1-hour charge or longer charge for optimal battery life.
17. Some other great gift ideas for your photographers are books! If your photographer is the self-taught type or even just trying to learn (or a seasoned pro for that matter) then a new book might be a great idea for a holiday gift. The single best book on the market I can think of for photographers is "Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera". Even seasoned pros will pick up a few pointers in this updated classic!
18. If the photographer on your Christmas list is a lighting-type photographer, than there simply is no other book better than "Light, Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting". This book simply covers EVERYTHING about lighting and will help any photographer progress to the next stage in lighting.
So there you have it, my first annual holiday gift guide, and every single gift is under $100 U.S.!!! I hope you find this list useful for your holiday shopping needs and please take note to the items I specified that I wanted.
I've been very, very good this year!
Learn more about John, view his portfolio and check out his blog at John Adkins Photography