With Christmas looming on the horizon like a big, hairy money-sink, here are 10 gifts us photographers don't want!
I should clarify that by "us photographers," I mostly mean me. And I'm a miserable sod, so take this with a pinch of salt. Being a photographer, whether an enthusiast or professional, comes with some baggage. If a photo is being taken, that cameraphone is going to be lunged towards you imminently. If anyone who has just bought their first DSLR catches wind of your propensity for photography, you're about to be locked into a conversation you may not want to be in. And when it comes to presents, anyone who has to get you a gift but isn't sure what you might want will likely Google "gifts for photographers" and utilize their Amazon Prime within 30 seconds of the search results.
If, however, the reader of this stumbled upon it before purchasing the first sponsored, photography-themed item on Amazon, hold fire. Read my brief bulletpointed whinge, and then, make an informed decision. Let us begin.
1. The Lens Mug
It's a mug — you know, for hot beverages — but get this: it looks just like a camera lens. I'm not sure what decade this was a thoughtful and whimsical, well-received present, but it isn't this one. This plastic cylinder is not a desirable object, even as far as plastic cylinders go. If I want to take my drink on tour, I'll be using a decent thermos. Also, I definitely do not want every extrovert with a camera coming to strike up a chat about photography.
That said, no one ever bought me one of these, so I may just be bitter. And thirsty.
2. A Lovely-Looking Camera Strap
We are all special and unique little butterflies, but some tools do not require customization by way of colorful additions. You wouldn't buy a patterned drill sleeve for a builder, so leave your poor target photographer's strap alone and let it be dull. If we want to change it, it's going to be something with comfort and functionality, not — I repeat not — personality. Function over fashion, that's the motto. God, what's happened to me?
3. A Camera Bag (Unless We Chose It)
Right, I'll halt this train right now: don't buy a camera bag for a photographer unless they picked it. It's an unexpectedly large decision, which has nuances that we like to get weird over. It's also potentially an expensive mistake depending on your budget, and no one wants scorned side-eye over Christmas dinner because the photographer asked you about receipts.
4. A Book on Photography (Important Caveats)
I'll break format here, as linking an actual photography book would begin to transcend the playful, tongue-in-cheek (intended) tone of this guide and start treading on "insulting". This one I say from experience. When people started to hear about my love for photography, they would buy me educational-style books on different genres and techniques. It could have been their way of telling me my "art" was terrible, but nevertheless, the books were too. They were invariably very basic instructions you could find online and with less than desirable results.
However, the massive caveat is this: coffee table books of great photography are superb presents if you know what you're looking at. If you want an example, here's "Genesis" by Sebastião Salgado.
5. An Interesting Lens Cap
I've seen these at many markets, and I'm sure 2 minutes on Etsy would yield some. They might seem fun, but unless they serve a purpose, not many self-respecting photographers are going to want a ladybug on the front of their expensive lens. We're not boring, I promise; that's just not a good look.
6. A Bokeh-Altering Filter
Hand on heart, I have no earthly idea why these exist. Don't get lured in by colorful marketing pictures; they're truly useless. If you're not convinced, you'll probably not be alone. Hop down to the comments to see someone disagree with me.
7. A Print of Our Work (Unless You Know What You're Doing)
This is the sweetest idea on the list. Us photographers love seeing our work in print, the problem is, it's much trickier than it seems. I'll briefly abate my vitriol and say this is a lovely idea, but you're going to need to find a top printing company to advise you if you've never printed anything before. There are more variables than you've ever dreamed of. Under no circumstances should you use the printer in your office because it has "photo" in the name. It will invariably end up spitting out something that looks like a badger scratched on a leaf.
8. Photography-Themed Jewelery
9. One of Those Glass Orbs
These were reasonably interesting at some point, but it was a phase that has successfully passed. You might coax a timid smile and thank you from your photographer, and he might even scurry away to take photos through it. But soon enough, it'll end up in that drawer with the keys you don't know the purpose of and some shoelaces. Incidentally, due to the weight, it would work as an effective projectile.
10. Anything That Says "I Shoot People"
There was a time where this was a funny joke. I believe the unpacked version involved hanging (a print of) someone too. Witty stuff, but it's more than had its day. Once a gag has been relegated from the reaction category of "weak exhale through nose," it is time to retire it to the land of t-shirts that say "Female Body Inspector."
These are my top 10 worst gifts you can buy a photographer, and while the mean-spirited content is meant merely in jest, if you get me in Secret Santa, please don't. I know now that you've read this, you'll be tempted, but I'm begging you, don't. To balance things out, next month I will offer a top 10 gifts photographers do want for Christmas, which will no doubt be more contentious.
Over to you my fellow 'togs. What are some common and unwanted gifts for photographers? Share in the comments below.