By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Marketing, Communications & Blog Coordinator
‘Tis the season for all sorts of gift guides. You can find the top ten suggested gifts for just about any occupation or avocation from your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse to your dentist, and from photographers to pastors. Sometimes it’s amusing to scan the lists and sometimes there are actually good ideas hiding among the socks, bobbleheads and fruit baskets. In scrolling through a bunch of Top 10 Gifts for Photographers web pages, I saw some hits and misses, some that made me laugh, some that made me covetous, and some that left me baffled. Here’s what I found.
It must be a law. Right around or just after Thanksgiving, everyone must publish their list of top gifts for (insert occupation here). The Internet is full of these postings. Photography gift guides come from everywhere from our friends at PetaPixel to the New York Post, and from Readers Digest to the New York Times’ Wirecutter. But are they helpful? Are the suggestions any good?
There are some things I wish I’d seen the last of, but they keep popping up year after year, so somebody’s buying them. Things I don’t want to see under a tree include a coffee mug that looks like a lens, T-shirts with “funny” photography sayings, those pint glasses with 35mm film canisters stuck in the sides, camera ornaments, camera jewelry, or camera socks (I already have a nice pair of camera socks, thank you very much). But, if you like these kinds of things, go for it! You be you.
Some other things I wouldn’t want someone buying for me are things like a drone, or camera gear and accessories. These items may or may not work with my system, may or may not be something I’d use.
So what would make a good gift for almost any photographer?
The PetaPixel list contains two multi-tools, compact items that can be used to adjust tripod heads, tighten L-brackets and serve a variety of common uses. One is a keyring with an Allen wrench and screwdriver. The other has 13 different uses, from screwdriver to bottle opener. I haven’t used either. I use the one I have (pictured, right) all the time. It’s always in my camera bag.
Wirecutter lists two must-have items for keeping your lens clean.
A Giottos Rocket Air Blaster. At less than $20, these little guys are super handy and a great way to blow dust and particles off your lens or filter or camera. I use mine all the time. I’ve also lost a couple so a spare would not be refused.
LensPen. Also less than $20, LensPens are another great way to keep your lens and filters clean. I usually have one in my camera bag but they do eventually wear out, so one can always use a fresh LensPen.
Cool Tool by Vello. Photo credit: Frank Gallagher
It’s not my cup of tea, but some photographers have been enjoying using crystal balls in their photography. The NY Post article recommends a Sharper Image Photo Effects Ball but they’re available from several different sources. Who knows what you’ll find when you start experimenting with one?
Camera Strap. Many gift lists include various kinds of camera strap, ranging from colorful, soft rope and straps with cool patterns woven in to high-end Peak Design and Black Rapid straps. I wouldn’t mind changing things up a bit with a spiffy camera strap.
Portable backup options. Right now, Amazon is selling a Western Digital My Passport 1 TB SSD drive for about $100. This palm sized device is a great way to backup photos when you’re traveling or, if you don’t have a massive photo library and one terabyte is enough storage, you could use it at home as one of your primary backups. It was Wirecutter’s choice for portable hard drive.
Air Tags. Speaking of travel, Apple’s Air Tags have become popular with travelers. (There are also Android versions, like Tile.) Put one in your camera bag, with your memory cards, in check luggage. You’ll always know where your stuff is. You can even set them to warn you if you’re leaving them behind.
Giottos Rocket Air Blower. Photo credit: Frank Gallagher
Photography gloves. It gets cold out there in nature, yet photographers need to use their fingers to operate the dials and buttons on their cameras. The solution is a good pair of photography gloves, where the tips of the thumb and index finger pull back so you can make delicate adjustments. Many photographers are partial to Vallerret’s Markhoff gloves, but there are many choices out there. PetaPixel chose Palmyth as a budget choice. Dan Carr at ShutterMuse recommends RucPac Extreme Tech gloves.
Anti-Fog Belt. Speaking of cold, has your lens ever fogged up at night, while doing astrophotography, time lapse or long exposure? It’s not uncommon for condensation to form on the lens as the air temperature changes. The Haida Anti-Fog Belt on PetaPixel’s list is only about $20 but requires a power source, like a power bank. Not for everyone but, if you encounter dew on your lens, it might be worth your while.
Gift Cards. Photographers always need something and a gift card is a mighty handy thing to have in one’s pocket. It could be a gift card for Hunts or B&H or your local store. Or it could be for Amazon or Target or REI or some other general purpose shop.
Oh, and someone could always gift me a membership in one of the organizations to which I belong. I hear NANPA’s yearly membership is quite affordable. 😉
Vallerret mittens (left) and gloves (right) both with fold back index fingers and thumbs. Photo credit: Frank Gallagher
Frank Gallagher is a landscape and nature photographer based in the Washington, DC, area who specializes in providing a wide range of photograph services to nonprofit organizations. He serves as NANPA’s Interim Marketing and Communications Coordinator and manages NANPA’s blog. He can be found online at frankgallagherphotography.com or on Instagram @frankgallagherfoto.
Previous PostUrban Nature: Capturing the Intimate Details of Winter