Holiday Shopping for Your Photographer

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, how many of you braved the stores on Black Friday? Perhaps instead, you hung out at home in your jammies and enjoyed a little online shopping...

Holiday shopping can get overwhelming, especially when you want to get the photographer in your life - whether it's your parent, wife, sibling - something they can use, but you know nothing about photography. I'm here to help! I've compiled my own list of gifts I think everyone from the hobbyist to the professional would love to see tucked under their tree this year.

Most lenses that come with SLR cameras aren't spectacular - that's why they are thrown in when you purchase your camera. The best starter lens and lens most photographers who want to get serious start with is "The Nifty Fifty".
A prime lens (meaning it does not zoom in and out), it is sharp and an ideal focal length for portraits. The 1.8 aperture lends to some great depth of field, ie that awesome, blurry background behind your subject.
The other reason it's a top choice? It's crazy affordable. Older models (that will work on most professional grade SLR cameras) are even less expensive, but for most entry level consumer grade SLR cameras, the 50mm 1.8G will only set you back a few hundred.
I recommend: the Nikkon 50mm and the Canon 50mm. Starting at $110

When any photographer begins shooting, color balance and skin tones can be the bane of their existence. Even the most seasoned photographers struggle with their images being too warm or too cool. This is called "white balance".
This past year I found the ExpoDisc. This little disc fits over your lens before you begin shooting your clients, measuring the light available and adjusting your white balance accordingly. No more guesswork in processing, with everything looking as true to life as it was when you shot it. Best of all? It's only $50! I don't leave home with out it anymore.
I recommend: the ExpoDisc by Expoimaging. $49

Whether I am filling them up or misplacing them around the house like my bobby pins, I'm always in need of more memory cards. My camera and most cameras use SD cards. Some models take a Compact Flash memory card.
When buying your cards, remember that more is more. "More is less" doesn't apply here. When it comes to space, most SLR cameras will need a minimum of 8 to 16GB of space. If you or your friend is a professional photographer, they're more than likely shooting RAW files, which are considerably larger. I don't shoot on anything smaller than 32GB myself.
The second thing you want to remember is that not all cards are created equal. The "class" of the card determines how fast the camera will write to the card. Cards span between Class 2 and up to Class 10. When I am shooting families and children, I am snapping constantly. I can't afford to have a "lag" or my camera preventing me from snapping more pictures.
Lastly, brand matters. I am all about shopping for generics at the grocery store, but when you're taking photos of important events or for paying clients you can't have a card fail on you. SanDisk, Transcend, Lexar are all great brands. As a rule of thumb, if you've never heard of it - don't buy it.
I recommend: SanDisk Extreme and Extreme Pro brands are my go to cards for professionals. Starting at $12

Do you have an Instagram? Or are all your family's memories stuck on your phone's camera feed? If I had to guess, I'd also say that scrapbooking your memories are not high on your very busy to-do list.
There's where ChatBooks come in.
ChatBooks are small, square scrapbooks that can pull from your Instagram feed and automatically print, bind and ship you a finished scrapbook as soon as you upload enough pictures to fill one. All the work is done for you! If that's too easy, you can also upload your images and create your own custom book using their online and mobile software. The quality isn't the same as paying big bucks for a professional album, but it's priceless to finally have those images you've taken tangable and for everyone to see!
I recommend: ChatBooks, starting at $8 per book

If holding your camera in front of your face or your sweet friend's face all the time doesn't scream I'M A PHOTOGRAPHER, a comfy t-shirt will get the job done.
The "mom's gonna snap" is one of the most popular shirts for the momtographer, and I should know - I have it myself. It's incredibly stretchy and soft. I do find that it runs a little big, so don't worry about being too generous with the sizing.
I recommend: the Mom's Gonna Snap t-shirt, and a lot of other great photo gifts at Clickin' Moms

You can't truly call yourself a professional until you have one of these lens inspired mugs for your coffee or hot chocolate. Whether or not you think they're cheesy, they're a rite of passage. Just make sure if it's for you or the special someone in your life, you grab the right model - there are Nikon versions and a Canon version (it has a red ring around the top).

Check out: The Nikon version (clearly), $14

After a newborn session, I had clients send me a special little gift. A camera charm necklace. It was so thoughtful! And of course, irresistably cute. There are a lot of variations on Amazon and Etsy to choose from, and after any number of Google searches.
You can't go wrong when you combine two things the woman in your life may love - photography, and jewelry.
Check out: this charm necklace is adorable, and let's not forget the guys - check out these cufflinks

As I mentioned above, the 50mm is a prime lens, which means you cannot zoom in and out. If you have a crop lens (which most entry-level consumer grade SLR cameras are), that isn't going to give you a lot of space in tight quarters. You might find you need to get a little bit wider, and the DX Crop Sensor 35mm is affordable and the solution to your problem. When I was still shooting on my crop D7000, this was the lens I purchased just before the birth of my second child. I knew I would need more space in the hospital room and this worked beautifully!
The downside? I'm not aware of any model like this for Canon model cameras. +1 Nikon!
I recommend: the Nikon 35mm 1.8G DX lens, $196

A while back, these lenses for your cell phones came about. You can make your cell phone into a fish eye and even attach a macro lens (meaning you can see small things in focus when holding the phone close). I thought, "Huh. That's kind of cool" but that was about it.
Then, a few weeks ago, my husband was given a free kit to review on Amazon. Yeah, that's his side hobby recently. Anyway, I opened up the box and put it onto my iPhone. I actually think they're pretty awesome! The fisheye lens could be really fun, and I immediately wished I'd have it over the summer at each of our beach vacations. The macro would be really fun too when I was to get "all artsy" with my Instagram feed.
These lenses are not necessarily practical and more of a novelty, but they're relatively inexpensive and a fun addition to your cell phone when you don't want to lug around your SLR.
Check out: this set of lenses and carrying case, $22

Eventually a growing collection of photo goodies can get a little heavy and more importantly need a solid place to be carried and stored.
There are about a million different camera bags out there. When looking for one, there are a few things I'd remember:
Padding - make sure the bottom and sides are adequately padded to protect gear. This includes the bottom, as you may set down the bag from time to time on concrete or hard surfaces.
Durability - check the stitching and quality of the bag, especially where the carrying strap is attached. You don't want a bag to snap or break and send your gear crashing to the ground.
Comfort - it sounds silly, but if your bag is already heavy before you put any gear in it, it's only going to get worse and more uncomfortable as you accumulate more items to shove inside.
I recommend: a Jo Toes bag (starting at $89), or if you want to splurge, a House of Flynn bag (starting at $230)

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