If you have a photographer in your family, or if your significant other is a photographer then in many ways, you have it made when it comes to holiday gifts. There are so many cool products out there that photographers will love.
Everything on this list is something I myself have used or owned at one time and can highly recommend. Companies can’t pay to get on this list and with the exception of the books, there are no affiliate links here. I don’t get paid to recommend any of this stuff. Im suggesting things I myself would like to receive – but don’t buy me any of these items because I already have them! 🙂
Without further ado, here are my picks – in no particular order:
1. The Joe Farace Reporter II Backpack. At under $70 its one of the least expensive camera backpacks Ive ever seen and it just happens to be one of the best. I didn’t pick it because Joe has written a bunch of posts for Photofocus. I picked it because when I need a backpack, this is one the one I most often use. Its light, very well designed, and extremely affordable.
2. SmugMug Pro. If youve got a professional photographer in your household who wants to sell their images online, Id suggest a $150 year-long subscription to SmugMug. Yes they are a sponsor, but if you look at the Photofocus archives, you’ll note that weve been hosting our Photofocus video there for a lot longer than they have been sponsors. SmugMug is a great solution for people who want to sell photos or host video.
3. Visual Stories. If you can only buy one photo book for a friend or loved one this holiday season, Visual Stories is the one you want. Its by Pultizer Prize winning photo journalist Vincent Laforet. Nuff said.
4. GoingPro. Of course I hope you can afford one more book, and yes this is a plug for my own book. But if I can’t plug my own book on my own blog where can I do it? GoingPro is not for every photographer – but it is for photographers who are or want to make photos for a living. It’s co-written by industry giant Skip Cohen, and speaking of Vincent Laforet, he wrote the foreword. The book is selling well and getting rave reviews. I think it can help anyone who is thinking of going pro or I wouldn’t have spent 22 months of my life working on it!
5. Animoto. For $30 a year, you can buy a subscription to Animoto. This is hands-down, the best, easiest and most impact-oriented way to create slide shows from still and moving images I have ever seen. I have been using Animoto since it first launched. I can tell you it’s my favorite way to share my work. (Use code PhotoDec before Dec 31, 2011 and get three free months of Animoto.)
6. Induro Carbon Fiber Tripod. It’s no secret I am a big fan of tripods. They have many benefits including providing stabilization so serious photographers can get rock-solid images. Most tripods are heavy. This one isn’t. It’s the least-expensive, carbon fiber tripod I’d recommend and while $299 seems like a lot of money, it’s not when you’re talking high-quality, low-weight tripods. Induro’s stuff has served me well. I use the big brother to this one and can highly recommend it.
7. Chimera Triolet, 1000 Watt Quartz Light. If you want to do studio work, there’s no easier way to light than to use a “hot light.” This is what I use in my own studio. The Chimera Triolet is a brilliant piece of gear. If you couple this with any of Chimera’s very large softboxes, throw in a few reflectors or bounce cards (you can make your own if you have a tight budget) and you have all you need to shoot professional portraits or product photography.
8. Tiffen 77MM variable ND filter. This is the most affordable variable ND filter I could find. It helps photographers take creative control over exposure in brightly-lit situations. You can make long-exposure shots even in daylight with one of these and they are absolutely a must-have filter for photographers who shoot video too.
9. KelbyTraining.com. For less than $200 a year your photographer can have access to some of the best photographers, teachers and trainers in the world, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Of all the online training solutions available, I think KelbyTraining offers the best value. They have a 100% money back guarantee so there’s no risk.
10. Topaz Adjust. There are LOTS of Photoshop plug-ins, but few are as much fun as Topaz Adjust. At under $50 it is a big bargain. And ANY of the Topaz products are worth a look, and worth the money. The good news is that all of them can be tried free of charge.
This was a tough list to compile. There are lots of great products out there, but these are my favorites.