All Fstoppers Tutorials on Sale!

10 Gifts Photographers Don't Want for Christmas

10 Gifts Photographers Don't Want for Christmas

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.

If you must, here's the one pictured.

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?

If you must, here's the one pictured.

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.

If you must, here's the one pictured.

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.

If you must, here's an article about the ones pictured.

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.

If you must, here's the one pictured.

7. A Print of Our Work (Unless You Know What You're Doing)

"Photocopying photocopies" by de faria is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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


If you must, here's the one pictured.

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."

If you must, here's the one pictured.

In Closing

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.

Log in or register to post comments


Previous comments
Nathan Wong's picture

I disagree with #1. I love my lens mug. I've used one for over 4 years and it's a great conversation starter. The only problem is that they're not big enough to hold enough liquid.

Ritwick Bhattacharyya's picture

Books!!! I hate photography books. Mostly they are so basic that i don't even open them.

Lorin Duckman's picture

I got a lens mug for Hanukah. Love my wife for thinking of me. Use it every morning. It reminds me to take my chemo pills and shoot some pictures.

Alexander May's picture

I busted out laughing more than a few times while reading this list! I need to send this to my mom, but I don't want to look like a jerk :)

marcus brown's picture

The I shoot people mug I would take lol.

Nick Haynes's picture

I need mine customised. My bad habit is not cutting off their heads: I cut off their feet.

Charles J's picture

I want a glass orb. Never used one before and want to try. Afterward, it'll make a nice prop.

Jacques Cornell's picture

11. Any item of clothing with a photography-related theme printed on it.
12. One of those cheap lens cleaning kits with a few tissues and a tiny bottle of rubbing alcohol that'd strip varnish off an old boat.
13. A bargain-basement tripod.
14. A bargain basement flash.
15. Any of the accessories that are included in bargain camera bundles - they're mostly landfill.
15. House-brand rechargeable batteries from a drugstore. It's Eneloops or nothing.
16. A lens not of the photographer's choosing.
17. A camera not of the photographer's choosing.
18. Pretty much any photography-related gear that's not of the photographer's choosing.

DO get:
1. A variety of inexpensive paperback books OF (not ABOUT) photography from Aperture or the Photo Poche series.
2. Quality chocolate. If the photographer is diabetic, get 90% dark - that's all we can eat.

Peter Mueller's picture

I was surprised no-one yet has commented on the "lens mug to desk lamp" conversion... I did mine using a big-box-store purchased LED gooseneck lamp. $7 and a little drilling turned a thoughtful but thoroughly useless gift from my daughter and son-in-law into something I actually wanted to keep and use. (This is a one-shot deal... if I get another one this year I'll need to pitch it square into the face of the gifter...)

Nick Seth-Smith's picture

No matter how helpful you want to be please please please don't get one of these ...

It won't even hold a single image anymore.

Lee Morris's picture

haha. Why is it $9

Basia Kowalska's picture

My father gets me a magazine from Adorama or some third party "Guide to the Nikon ___" every time. I'm never going to open any of them, but honestly, I'm just glad he cares enough to keep encouraging me. It's the thought ❤️

Re: the mug. I did once get a set of three mini-lens shot glasses from my brother 😂 we put them to use right away!

Alex Lancashire's picture

I like the sentiment on the last mug. Please send me one.