Every year, there is a gift guide released that is supposed to help family, friends, and significant others buy something for their budding photographer. The problem is photography is an incredibly specific hobby, and most gifts given unfortunately don’t help. Here is a list of gifts that will appreciated by any photographer.
In general, gift cards can be pretty helpful. I mean, maybe not a $20 Chili's gift card; all that's good for is a 3,000-calorie entrée. But a gift card for B&H can be incredibly useful. It gives your photographer the chance to buy what they need, but also, it isn’t cash, which I know most people are weary of. That brings me to my next gift.
Look, I get it. Cash isn't a gift for a significant other or a friend, but for a family member, it's a totally reasonable option. A lot of photography involves intangible purchases you can’t get with a gift card. A lot of photographers don’t need physical items; they need money to travel or buy studio time for a personal project. Those costs add up.
I understand what your point of view on this may be. You may think giving someone cash is seen as an insult, but it really isn’t. It’s all how the gift is framed. If you give them cash with a note that says something like “I know I’ll never be able to buy you what you need for your camera, but I hope this can help,” it shows you care and want to help. If you just throw it into an envelope and put their name on the front, that may be seen as insulting. It's all about the delivery.
Just Ask Them What You Can Do to Help
Gift-giving is all about intent. Showing your love is more than just giving someone a gift that has a camera on it, it’s showing you care. If you are giving a gift to someone who is obsessed with photography, the best thing you can do is help them help themselves. If you’re not comfortable buying them anything you’ve seen on this list so far, then ask them what they need. Tell them you want to support their hobby and you know that only they know what they need. That shows your intent more than a shot glass with a camera on it.
Other Things That Aren’t Photography Related
Photographers like things that aren’t photography related too. You can do something for them that has nothing to do with their hobby. Buy them a comfy sweater or a weighted blanket. Maybe you get them a nice wine. These are gifts that anyone can use, not just photographers.
One of the best gifts you can give is a night out. Take them out to dinner and connect with them, go to a basketball game, do something with them that takes you out of your normal environment. That’s infinitely more special than a camera bag that only holds half the gear they own.
For many, gift-giving has devolved into “I know you like X, so I bought you Y.” This is why equestrians only own things with horses on them; it's all they get as gifts. I understand the point of gift-giving is to show appreciation, and that can mean different things for different people. If you want to give someone a mug that says "I Shoot People" with a camera on it, then by all means. But with this list, you are getting gift ideas that will be universally appreciated.