What Should You Get a Photographer for Christmas? 8 Tips That Definitely Won’t Disappoint

If you’ve got a photographer in the family, you can definitely please them this Christmas with some well-chosen photo gear. But choosing a gift for a photographer can be quite tricky. Read our tips to avoid missteps.

photographer christmas gift

Guessing what an experienced photographer wants as a gift tends to be hard. Often they have a precise idea of what they need (or simply want). So you can accidentally reach for something that won’t bring them much use, or that’s close to what they already have. Or worse yet, it might not even fit their camera.

If that’s a real risk, the best solution is just to ask. But if you really don’t want to ruin your Christmas surprise, we’ve got a few tips for you on universal gifts that will suit nearly every photographer.

We wrap up with some tips aimed more at beginning photographers’ relatives and friends. These gifts should hopefully broaden these photographers’ horizons.

1. Lens Cleaning Agents

Sure, you can even clean a lens with your shirt, but it’s neither ideal nor elegant. I’ve had very good experience with lens wipes here. For example Zeiss sells them in small packages that are easy to carry them with you nonstop.

They’re just as light as they are small. They’re also a Christmas gift that suits practically every photographer’s gear.

lens wipes

Moistened lens wipes are truly tiny. They’re sold in packs of 60. AA battery for scale.

2. An ND filter

I considered adding a tip for my beloved polarizing filter. And naturally there’s nothing stopping you from getting one. But its effect on photos isn’t too strong, and so as a gift, I’d recommend that you get the less common ND filter (neutral density filter) instead.

nd filter

An ND filter, or more precisely a special version of it—a variable ND filter, whose darkness can be adjusted. (But this type does also have disadvantages, such as being fairly weak.)

With a very dark filter, with a strength of e.g. 1000x, you’ll get entirely different pictures that you would with normal photo gear. A gray filter will let you use long exposures even in midday, giving you e.g. fabulously blurred clouds and velvety water surfaces.

nd filter landscape

An ND filter’s effect in practice—it lengthened this daybreak exposure to over 4 minutes.
Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon EF 16-35/2.8 III, 256 seconds, f/13, ISO 100, focal length 35 mm

An ND filter is an ideal supplement to the gear of a patient landscape photographer who has both a camera and a tripod. Because without a tripod, you won’t get full use out of an ND filter.

But don’t forget to watch the diameter of the threading on the lens the filter is made for. If you don’t, it might be impossible to screw the filter onto the lens. Lens manufacturers always state this diameter in the specs.

3. A Tripod

If your loved one doesn’t have a tripod yet, this tip is a hot favorite. But here things are a bit more complicated. There are lots of tripods on the market—from simple and cheap to sophisticated and expensive.

It probably doesn’t make sense to buy a heavy, advanced model, only to find that its weight has condemned it to lie unused in the corner. On the other hand, make sure the tripod you’ve chosen can carry the given camera and isn’t just made for light compacts and windless days. You’ll find a tripod’s maximum load in its specs.

tripod gift

Shown here is a relatively small tripod that can carry even a large DSLR.

4. A Coupon for Photo-book Printing

This tip is lying right under my tree, and I can recommend it. Once I got a photo book coupon one Christmas and then used it, I wanted one for my next holidays again.

The advantage of this gift is that the recipient themselves chooses the book’s style and the pictures inside it. So if the recipient has a broad enough picture selection on their disk or they’ve just gotten back from a “photogenic” trip, they can fill the book with a selection to suit their taste. Or it can instead motivate them to head out and take interesting pictures.

photo book print

A photo book of one’s own pictures is a wonderful commemoration. And printed photos have more magic than their electronic cousins.

A coupon for a canvas print—or even just a frame for one—that your recipient can fill with their own creation is just as useful.

5. An External Flash

An external flash is good for photography indoors, and for various creative work as well. Today you no longer have to reach for original flashes straight from the cameras’ manufacturer. There are lots of Chinese flashes on the market, such as the Yongnuo, that have a lot to offer at a modest price.

external flash

An external flash is much more powerful than an internal one, and can be folded off to the sides.

But to choose photo gear well, you need to know the camera’s brand. Third-party manufacturers will sell the same flash, for example, in different versions for different systems.

6. An External Flash Trigger

Although a wireless flash trigger is a fairly advanced gift, it has such enormous possibilities that it can entirely transform your recipient’s photographic life. When experimenting with it, you’ll create pictures that are entirely different from what you’d get with natural light.

Naturally your recipient will also need to have their own external flash—unless that’s part of the gift.

external flash trigger

An external flash trigger, or a trigger and receiver (this type is universal, and the unit can serve in either of these roles), is an ideal gift for an advanced photographer.

Here as well, Chinese firms have made real progress and are definitely not copycats. They’re currently starting to lead the pack, and their advanced triggers and receivers tend to have special features as well. For example, controlling flashes from multiple brands. Even those that normally wouldn’t be able to communicate. 

external flash trigger

An example of the effect of a remotely fired flash outdoors. Here one flash is lighting the model’s face while another, with a purple filter, shines from behind.
Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF 100/2.8 Macro IS, 1/200 s, f/2.8, ISO 100, focal length 100 mm

Triggers and receivers don’t tend to be expensive, but choosing them is complicated. So it’s better to seek advice at the store or on the internet in photography groups. You’ll need to know the camera’s brand, and ideally also the type of flash your recipient uses. That’s because it may have a built-in receiver, and thus you’ll only need to buy a trigger.

7. Photo Editing Software

It’s rare that an experienced photographer won’t edit their creations before publishing them. So a license for Zoner Photo Studio can truly delight at Christmas time. Your recipient will be able to experiment with their edits and become a better editor.

8. A Photography Book

We try to keep our articles interesting, but some photographers will prefer a longer format. If your recipient is one of them, they’ll definitely appreciate an interesting book to advise them on their photography. If you have at least a general idea of what they like photographing the most, you’ll definitely find a useful publication quickly.

photography book

A photography book definitely won’t disappoint.

Enjoy Your Holidays

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to truly enjoy your holidays. Even small gifts will definitely please. And if you have your own tips for an attractive gift, we’ll be glad if you share them in the comments. 

Last updated 11. December 2018

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Author: Vit Kovalcik

I’ve been a freelancer since early 2012; photography is my living. I acquired my photography experience, both inside and outside the studio, during the previous years—when I was working all day and taking pictures every evening and weekend. I don’t have just one clearly defined topic; I like photographing people, but also cityscapes and landscapes.

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