As we head into the end of the year, it’s time to celebrate the approach of the holiday season — that joyful spell of songs, snow, sugar cookies… and many headaches as you attempt to nail down your shopping list for family and friends.
If you have a photographer in your life, your holiday shopping problems may very well be compounded: the full spectrum of gifts for photographers is as wide as an aperture of f/1.2.
From price to skill level, there’s a lot of variance when it comes to photography equipment. So much so, you might not even know where to start looking.
But never fear! We compiled this list of best gifts for photographers to help you pick the right thing for your friend.
Gifts for photographers under $30
1. An App Store gift card to buy essential photographer apps
You might be skeptical about giving your friend a gift card, but trust us: $15 for the App Store will go a long way when it’s in a photographer’s capable hands. Of course, that then begs the question: what phone apps could possibly be of use to a photographer?
Glad you asked! Helios’ Magic Hour Calculator ($0.99) helps you calculate ideal timing and location for Golden Hour shots; PhotoPills ($9.99) is basically a personal assistant for night sky photographers; while Halibe ($11.99/year) transforms your iPhone into a powerful camera with support for focus assists like focus peaking and loupe, histograms, manual depth capture, and RAW support. And that’s just scratching the surface of the App Store’s offerings for photographers!
2. A camera lens mug
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Does the photographer in your life love to drink coffee and be constantly surrounded by things that remind them of their interests? Yes? Then have we got one of the best gifts for photographers for you. This stainless steel thermos cup looks just like a camera lens, but unlike the comparatively useless “real deal,” this lens can hold a beverage. (Admittedly, it won’t help you take pictures.)
It keeps cold drinks cold, hot drinks hot, and has a seal lid, making it the perfect gift for photographers who like to hit the road and snap the great outdoors. Not to mention, it’s a first-rate conversation starter: “Stop! You’re pouring coffee on your camera lens!”
3. Camera shot glasses
For the shot-snapping coffeeholic who likes their beans neat (or enjoys pretending they’re a giant), check out these mini camera lens thermos cups. Like their larger counterparts, these airtight cups will keep your beverages toasty warm or cold as ice, but they’re small enough to be clipped onto your keys — because who doesn’t love a novelty miniature (or a shot glass)!
4. A set of lens cap keepers
How many times has your photographer friend whinged about their missing lens cap? Too many times? Then why not buy them some lens cap keepers — a gift for them and for you! These ones from Altura have an elastic strap that fits snugly around any lens and a small adhesive that sticks to the front of the cap. Lens and cap need never be parted again! One of those gifts for photographers that just keeps on giving 🙂
5. A LensPen
You may think a lens cleaner is about as exciting as a toothbrush, but we guarantee your photographer friend — if they’re serious about taking crystal-clear photos — would be thrilled to get their hands on this nifty little tool.
One end of the LensPen has a soft brush to sweep away dust (or the biscuit crumbs from their pocket) and the other has a non-liquid cleaning element perfect for removing smudges. So, in many ways, it’s like a super cool double-bladed lightsaber…sort of.
6. Photography books by the photographer’s favorite photographer
Just as a memoirist devours all the best memoirs, and a musician knows their Bach from their Beethoven, a photographer will have their own role models and sources of inspiration. Of course, they can always gather inspiration from online design blogs or even a quick scroll through Instagram.
But if you can do a little digging and discover your favorite photographer’s favorite photographer, then why not surprise them with a book of their work.
There are some truly stunning examples out there: our favorites include the beautiful Misao, The Big Mama and Fukumaru the Cat, Robert Frank’s innovative The Americans, and Vivian Maier’s classic book of street photography.
Or, if an indecisive friend fails to name their icon, you could inspire them with a photography book on their favorite subject matter, instead — like Genesis, an enduring photographic homage to nature.
7. Photography books that reveal creative methods and techniques
If your friend is proving particularly difficult to crack, and you can’t seem to extract from them the name of their favorite photographer, turn to a different kind of photography book — one put together by masters of the craft to shed light on their methods, insights, and practices.
This is the perfect gift for creative people that combines two wise sayings — a picture is worth a thousand words and learn from the greats, and become even greater. If you’re wondering where to start searching for such a book, we can recommend Gregory Heisler’s magnificent 50 Portraits or the famous Magnum Contact Sheets!
This one’s for the photographer who’s still a child at heart. (Or the photographer who is still a child, for that matter.) Snapshot is a unique indie video game centered around the mission of a lone little robot called Pic who’s lost in an abandoned world.
Using a special camera, which can remove objects from the world and paste them back in, players can help Pic solve hundreds of secrets, puzzles, and time trials in four distinct environments that any photographer would be itching to explore with their lens.
You’ll see this little guy on a lot of gift lists for photographers, and the reason is very simple: it works (to an extent), and (much more importantly) it’s lightweight and affordable. Of course, you won’t get a perfect photo with it on a windy day — it’ll wobble too much for that. But if your friend just needs a bit of extra stabilization to line up a shot, this portable GorillaPod works a charm once whipped out and put into action.
Meet Darkroom: the iOS app that’s taken the mobile photography world by a storm. Think of it as a Lightroom for mobile photographers, complete with the filters and pro tools that create sharper, more artistic, and altogether better photos.
Darkroom switched up its subscription model in February of this year, and now costs $3.99 per month or $19.99 per year — cheaper than Adobe Lightroom, and a practical price for a powerful photo editor. If your friend is into mobile photography, this could be one of those no-brainer gifts for photographers.
Gifts for photographers between $50 and $100
11. The mini bicolor LED panel with big potential
The Lume Cube Panel Mini is a credit-card-sized, portable, adjustable bicolor LED Light for some high quality professional content creation. With a frosted lens for built-in diffusion, an easy to use display screen and a most versatile brightness and color temperature adjustability to date, you’ll have the all the light you need for some amazing results.
You can also browse the full range of Lume Cube’s portable lighting solutions.
12. A camera strap
Is your photographer friend perpetually paranoid about dropping their camera? Do they complain about it keeping their hands full all the time? When they trip, do they lunge to protect their camera before anything (or, indeed, anyone) else?
Then your friend might be suffering from crashitis, an unfortunate affliction that commonly strikes photographers who rely on their unreliable hands to hold their cameras. Luckily, the cure is simple: a good camera strap. BlackRapid is one of the most popular makers of comfortable, ergonomic camera straps out there — sure to put any photographer’s mind at ease when they’re shooting.
13. Moment lenses for phone photography
Between all the ongoing debates in photography (Nikon versus Canon versus Sony? DSLR versus mirrorless? Digital or film?), one has been rather unexpected: iPhone versus digital camera.
That’s right: the iPhone’s camera technology has improved immeasurably, and though it may never catch up to digital cameras in terms of sheer power and quality, it’s transformed into an impressive camera system in its own right. So much so, that Shot by iPhone is now an emblem of pride rather than an indictment.
But lenses — or the lack thereof — could be considered the iPhone camera’s Achilles heel. Enter Moment, which has stepped up to create a stunning array of quality phone lenses, from the fisheye 15mm to the wide 18mm and the telephoto 58mm lens.
They make a great gift for a photographer who’s on the go and would rather just grab their smartphone to snap a quick photo. More importantly — with prices starting at $39.99 — they’re much more affordable than DSLR lenses.
14. A solar charger
For photographers, there’s an extremely upsetting refrain: Missed shot. Dead camera battery. Which just means that this is your chance to step in and be your friend’s savior.
A solar charger that helps a photographer recharge their camera wherever they are — whether it’s at a woodsy wedding shoot or mid-Himalayan climb — is a smart gift for all seasons. And imagine their gratefulness when they realize they no longer have to live and die by the battery!
15. A signed photography book
If you want to do something extra special for the photographer in your life, you could upgrade a photography book by their favorite artist (a great present in its own right!) by hunting down a signed copy.
Lots of photographers, including Bastiaan Woudt and Frédéric Lagrange, have signed copies of their books available on their websites. And that little squiggle of ink will make your gift all the more precious to its giftee — just imagine how pleased they’ll be when their guests flip open their coffee table book and find it’s signed!
16. A personalized photo book
As great as it is to receive a famous photography book (signed or not), what might be even more special to a photographer is being able to see their own photographs in print. Even better, it’s easier to realize than you might think.
Print-on-demand services like Blurb and Innocence can turn a photographer’s dreams into beautiful reality, printing out elegant and professional-quality photo books in a matter of days. If you have access to your friend’s photos, you could build the photo book for them — or you could buy them credits or a gift card to the shop so that they can choose the photos themselves.
A proofreading job isn’t even required for this project: the photos will speak for themselves. And who knows? Self-publishing their book on Amazon could turn into a passive income stream for your friend one day.
17. A complete lens cleaning kit
If you have a bit more leeway in your budget, you can upgrade your gift from a LensPen to a complete lens cleaning kit. More cleaning equipment? Isn’t that basically the equivalent of gifting someone a lot of mops? Well, yes, in a way — because a camera cleaning kit will go a long way towards producing crystal-sharp photographs that will help your friend wipe the floor with their competition!
This particular cleaning kit comes with cleaning solution, a rocket air blower, a soft brush, microfiber cloths, and a carrying case: everything your friend might need to keep their camera looking — and working — like new.
18. Broadcast Lighting Kit
The Broadcast Lighting Kit by Lume Cube is everything you need to look your best when the camera turns on.
The kit offers professional-quality lighting as you stream, conference, or create. Complete with a monitor mount, and a telescoping desktop tripod with 360º rotating ball head, and powerful, bi-color Panel GO, so you can always find the angle you need.
You can also browse the full range of Lume Cube’s portable lighting solutions.
19. A pre-order of the new Pokemon Snap
When real-life environments and boring old humans aren’t quite cutting it for your photographer friend, gift them one of the most anticipated Nintendo games of 2021. A complete renovation of the 1999 Nintendo 64 game, Pokemon Snap for Nintendo Switch takes gamers to unknown islands so they can photograph Pokemons in their natural habitats.
Much like the gritty reality of street photography (except with cuddly Japanese dragons) you can discover behaviours and expressions you’ve never seen before when you encounter Pokemons in the wild. The perfect gift for any photographer moonlighting as a gamer.
20. An instant photo printer
Do you know a photographer who keeps their photos hidden away on their phone? Do they complain about the cost of getting them printed? Or the quality of the photos they print at home? Perhaps it’s time they got a portable printer.
This one from Kodak connects to any Aandroid or iOS phone via Bluetooth, and has a lightning connector for iPhones (Apple are honestly slaying the game with their cameras!), so you can simply connect your device and instantly print photos on glossy 4×6 paper.
For anyone who likes to display their photos or share them with friends, a photo printer is definitely a worthwhile investment.
21. A Fujifilm Instax camera
An instant printer not quite instant enough for your photographer friend? The Fujifilm Instax camera is a craze from the twenty-teens that doesn’t seem to be falling out of fashion any time soon.
Particularly popular among younger photographers (hence all the fun colors), these battery-operated cameras shoot and instantly print polaroids with that soft-focus finish that’s so in vogue.
Despite being easy to use (and easy on the eye), Instax cameras have all the features a beginner needs to capture the perfect photo every time, including a macro lens adapter, automatic exposure, and recommended aperture settings — making it an awesome choice for gifts for photographers.
22. A set of disposable cameras
A disposable camera? Why would anyone who’s serious about photography use such a basic photo-snapper? Well, hear us out. While disposable cameras, pre-loaded with film and a built-in flash, are certainly ideal for tourists and newbies who want to snap quick, easy photos everywhere they go, they’re also a great piece of kit for the more seasoned photographer to have in their bag.
This is because they’re a) great for spontaneous behind-the-scenes pics on a professional shoot, and b) a very handy back-up when your battery dies, and the perfect photo opportunity slips away.
You can even do all sorts of creative things that you wouldn’t dream of doing to an expensive camera: taping on filters, scratching the lens, or smearing it with petroleum jelly for a soft, dreamy aesthetic.
There are so many ways a photographer might take advantage of the disposable’s simplicity — or they could simply enjoy taking photos without thinking too much about it!
Gifts for photographers between $100 and $500
23. A membership to a photography museum near you
With an ever-growing number of innovative and eye-opening exhibitions, galleries are the equivalent of a photographer’s best self-help books — an invigorating source of inspiration and motivation whenever they step inside.
However, while there’s lots to get excited about, getting your photography fix this way can undoubtedly rack up the expenses. So if you want to treat a beloved photographer, you can help them save their pennies by gifting them membership to a gallery or museum near you — that way they can get more photography, more often, for less!
24. A digital photo frame
Just in time for the 21st century, this sleek Nix frame can be mounted on the wall or stood on a counter, and it plays both videos and photos in the same slideshow — all you have to do is insert a USB or SD card! It also has a magnetic remote control, as well as a motion sensor that turns the frame on and off automatically, saving the battery life.
If you want to show some appreciation for a family member’s photos, a digital photo frame that can display all the beautiful moments they’ve captured is definitely the way to go.
25. A yearly Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan subscription
Is your friend a beginner photographer who goes on and on about how they’re falling madly in love with photography? Well, enough’s enough: it’s time for them to get a (Light)room.
An incredibly powerful tool that helps photographers edit, organize, and share beautiful photos, Lightroom is the modern digital darkroom that many photographers — pros and amateurs alike — can’t go without. The Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan includes both Lightroom and Photoshop (two powerhouses in the photography world) and a subscription starts at only $10/month.
26. A print from a favorite photographer
If you want to think outside the just-get-them-a-photography-book box, you can’t go wrong with a print from your photographer’s favorite, well, photographer.
Bear in mind that prints can get expensive — a reflection of the photographer’s skill and care in preserving that moment in time forever — but they are truly something special once they’re in your hands (see wildlife photographer Phil Nicklen’s gallery of prints for an example).
If you’d rather not snoop too conspicuously around your photographer friend for their preferred photographers, we can always recommend a print from the world-class Magnum collection.
27. A camera bag
This is one of those trickier gifts for photographers, as a camera bag — though incredibly essential when it comes to camera protection — will ultimately come down to personal style and tastes. But that just makes it all the more rewarding when you pick the perfect one for your friend. Are they, for instance, a stylish city photographer?
Then a hip messenger bag like the Billingham Hadley Pro might be the answer. What if they’re a landscape photographer who travels around the world on freelance assignments? An all-purpose backpack from the likes of Lowepro or Wandrd’s PRVKE series might make more sense. Note that prices will vary, but you can expect to fork out between $100 and $200 for a high-quality camera bag.
28. Magnum workshops
As the premier photographic co-op owned entirely by its members, Magnum remains one of the most respected and renowned photography institutions in the world. And their courses are no exception: taught by world-class photographers such as Alec Soth and Stuart Franklin, they provide instruction for photographers at every stage of their careers.
Check out their The Art of Street Photography and Photographic Storytelling courses — or if your friend is already an expert practitioner, Magnum offers global workshops that are guaranteed to hone and improve a photographer’s skill. This is an especially great present for a friend who wants to up their game to pro-level before making the jump into freelancing.
Gifts for photographers over $500
29. A limited edition Cindy Sherman print
Radical. Influential. Socially charged. Long before selfies oversaturated the interwebs, Cindy Sherman was changing the face of photography, one critical self-portraiture at a time.
This collector’s item, a whole edition of the German newspaper Die Welt that was designed by Cindy Sherman and features one of her iconic self-portraits, is ridiculously exclusive: only 100 copies exist in total.
Its cost? Approximately $3,280. The cost of placing it on your coffee table to shock your friends when they visit next — and then snapping the moment their jaws drop? Priceless.
30. A photography workshop with Hans Kruse
A jaunt to a far-flung continent? Plus a chance to glimpse some of the most beautiful sceneries on our planet? Plus personal photography instruction from Hans Kruse, one of the leading landscape photographers in the world?
It’s a hard ask for your friend not to jump at an opportunity like this — or jump directly into your arms as soon as they see you’ve given them the once-in-a-lifetime chance to attend one of Hans Kruse’s phenomenal workshops.
Next year’s workshops are all taking place in Italy, from gorgeous Tuscany to the towering Dolomites. But if this is the gift you’re eyeing for your friend, you’ll have to hurry: spots fill up fast!
31. DJI Spark with Remote Control Combo
In an online world where it’s easy to think you’ve seen it all, drone photography is consistently delivering the “wow” factor — and guaranteeing the “cool location + drone = viral” equation.
The money shots include stunning bird’s-eye views of coastlines, canyons, and bridges; abstract photos of human impact on the ground; and amped-up shots of already quite visually dramatic locations on Earth.
With a top speed of 31mph, flight time of 16 minutes, vision-based navigation, obstacle detection system, and a variety of flight modes, the DJI Spark won’t hold back even the most intrepid adventurer.
Its intuitive controls and powerful lens help photographers take cinematic aerial videos and photos with smooth, easy control no matter how dynamic the shot. This is one of the show-stopping gifts for photographers who’s looking to step up their drone photography and secure that “Wow!” from viewers.
32. A National Geographic photography tour
Sometimes your much-loved photographer deserves something incredibly special — and this once-in-a-lifetime photography tour of a photographer’s paradise is that and more.
Yellowstone in winter must be one of most extraordinary sights in the world, and for around $5,500, you can record its incredible natural wonders: focus on the beauty of its gem-colored pools, zoom in on its majestic wildlife, and capture the light bouncing off a cascading waterfall frozen mid-spill.
All the while a National Geographic Expert will be around to share their expert insight and provide a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into the park. As if that’s not enough, the trip also includes a visit to the home studio of a renowned wildlife photographer!
We hope our list above can give you some great inspiration for finding the perfect gifts for photographers for any budget. We’re sure that your photographer friend/colleague will enjoy whatever it is you decide on! So best of luck and happy shopping.
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