At least once a year, I get the text: "My _______ is getting into photography! What should I get them?"
This is a very broad question, so I want to break it down into smaller answers. Does your person need a camera? A lens? Some accessories? Quirky camera-related-but-not-an-actual-camera gifts?
Let's jump into some of my suggestions for the photographers in your life.
- Oh! Wow. Ring light (Photojojo, $99) - This was one of my first flash setups. It's not great for weddings which I quickly learned, but it IS great for casual portraits where you need just a bit more light!
- GOgroove Full Sized Camera Backpack (Amazon, $70) - This is the backpack I'm currently using and I LOVE IT. I have had the "designer camera bags" and I can wholeheartedly say this backpack is a steal. Lots of compartments and pockets for everything I need and then some.
- Canon Camera Lens Mug (Photojojo, $24-30) - I love my lens mugs. I own two and they're both identical (to be fair, one was a gift) and they are both Canon replicas. But if you're wanting Nikon, I guess you could buy one of those on Photojojo too... (note: the Canon/Nikon war is silly but I have only ever had Canon-everything so I just have a bias. No reason. Just what I know.)
- Gift cards. I know this is a lame suggestion, but seriously. I recently received a $100 gift card as a tip and it immediately went to business supplies. (I got decently cushioned shoes and 100 AA batteries. Glamorous stuff.) Gift cards help.
ACTUAL CAMERA/LENS SUGGESTIONS AND WHY (All Amazon links)
For your person who is starting out, look to Canon Rebels. My personal backup camera is the Rebel t3i. It's old, but it holds up and works beautifully. Plus it is small so when I travel, I can bring it with me without it taking up space (or panicking that if it breaks somehow, I will be out of business). Here are some newer Rebels to look into!
- Canon EOS Rebel T5i EF-S 18-55 IS STM Kit ($600)
- Canon EOS Rebel T6i Digital SLR with EF-S 18-55mm IS STM Lens - Wi-Fi Enabled ($750)
There really isn't anything bad about older models, they're just hard to find online.
From here on out, I feel like it's just easier to say what I own personally. I'm not a gearhead so this list is pretty simple, but these are the things I use every time I work!
- Canon EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR Camera (Body Only) ($1,500)
- Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Image Stabilization USM Lens ($600) **Note: this is my go-to, favorite-child lens. I never take it off my camera. Not for details shots, not for portraits, not for anything. It does it all beautifully.**
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens ($125) **Note: aka "the nifty fifty". Cheapest lens, solid lens. What I travel with, what stays on my backup camera.**
- AA batteries forever.
- ProMaster Pro Cushion Strap QR, Black ($14)
- SD cards + CF cards, nothing smaller than a 32GB because they're cheap and with weddings, you need all you can get.
See? Simple bag. It honestly does not take a ton of gear to make a photographer a professional...but that's a blog for another day. (Or never because I hate that discussion so much.)
Now, some little extras to consider for the photographer in your life:
- Tripods? I rarely use mine but always good to have handy. I didn't put it on this list because a) I never travel with mine, b) I don't use one at weddings or sessions, and c) some people already have one if they need one.
- Polaroids! I actually don't know if this is a fair gift because you get them hooked and then they have to spend a ton on film for the rest of forever. But Polaroids are cute and timeless.
- Software! I personally live off Adobe Lightroom and pay their monthly subscription, so that's difficult to gift. But if your photographer-friend has been BEGGING for presets, there are so many great ones out there. Whether you want to go out and get the exact present they've been asking for (and $10 says it's Mastin), or you want to get them credits over on CreativeMarket, helping them get the look they're wanting is always a nice thing to do.
- Workshops! Oh, how I wish I had the guts to ask for a workshop for Christmas. They can get pricey, hence why I don't know if this is a fair solo-buyer-gift, but they look like so much fun. There are incredible workshops both locally and across the country! It just depends on what they want to focus on.
I think this sums up a safe shopping list! Let's also note that I am not affiliated with any of these links - I am sharing them because I genuinely like them and use them (except Mastin, which I like but don't use; I just know a lot of people use their presets religiously).
Any ideas you think I might have missed? Feel free to mention them below!