The holiday season is here and, once again, I have created a curated guide of gift ideas for photographers.
The motivation behind creating a Holiday Gift Guide for Photographers came after I realized that, as a photographer, I do not expect to receive meaningful photography gifts from my family or friends because, while thoughtful, the gifts are usually wrong or impractical for what I do.
In this list, you will find gift ideas in a variety of categories from photography gear and books to software tools, all of which offer different price points. As a whole, I have tried to keep the price range for most gifts on the list under $100.
For those not looking for gifts but for holiday sales and promotions, this list will give you a few ideas as well!
Fun and Inexpensive Gifts for Photographers
During a recent workout at the gym, I was listening to a photography podcast where an L-Bracket was recommended as a holiday gift for photographers. I couldn’t help but think that I would be greatly disappointed if I received an L-Bracket as a gift—what a boring gift!
Instead of a holiday guide of L-Brackets and other boring items, I put together a list of gifts that range from useful to fun. For example, a photographer might love a coffee mug shaped like their favorite lens. That’s a gift that is inexpensive, fun and useful!
Another gift example is the Fujifilm instant camera. This is the perfect gift for holiday parties and family gatherings.
You can find my suggested gift guide here: Gifts for Photographers Under $99
Book as a Best Gift
If you are completely lost in your search to find a meaningful gift for the photographer in your life, I believe that a good photography book is always a safe choice and one that any photographer can appreciate.
For example, Composition—From Snapshot to Great Shot by Laurie Excell is an outstanding book that photographers of any level or genre will appreciate.
Annie Leibovitz at Work also makes a great gift and is the perfect coffee table book.
Please check my 18 recommended photography books, each of them will make a perfect holiday gift. 18 Best Photography Books for Travel Photographers.
Also, I encourage you to check out the Creative Photography Series on my website where I feature the most distinctive photographers from different genres. You can find multiple book recommendations there: Creative Photography Series
Gift of Education
It is always puzzling to me that many beginning photographers have no problem spending thousands of dollars on photography equipment but are hesitant to invest a fraction of the cost of their gear into education.
An expensive piece of equipment does not automatically make you a better photographer. It makes you a guy with a fancy camera and uninspiring photos.
The goal should be the complete opposite—to spend as little as possible on gear and invest heavily (mostly an investment of time) into education. This approach makes you a better photographer faster and saves you a lot of money in the process. If you are not sure just how much you should spend on your first camera, I can help. Please check my article How Much Should I Spend on My First Camera?
CreativeLive is a new and innovative educational platform that broadcasts hundreds of live classes that are completely free. That’s right—absolutely free! If you want to follow the class at your own pace, you have to pay, which makes CreativeLive a great gift!
You can find my CreativeLive review here: CreativeLive: Free High Quality Photo Education
The Art of Photography course by travel photographer Jimmy McIntyre is also a great gift. If you have mastered Lightroom and are interested in learning Photoshop, this is the best course available. It covers everything from the basics to the advanced Luminosity Masks technique. Review: The Art of Photography by Jimmy McIntyre.
I also use Jimmy McIntyre's Raya Pro the Digital Blending Panel for Photoshop and highly recommend it. Review: Raya Pro – the Digital Blending Panel for Photoshop
I never recommend buying expensive photography gear as a holiday gift because there is a high chance that you might get it wrong. But, if you are a photographer looking for a gift for yourself, it is the perfect time to save by taking advantage of many holiday promotions.
This is the third year in a row that the Sony a6000 is the most sold camera on Amazon. Although the Sony a6000 is a few years old, it still offers the best ratio between features, quality and price. I still consider it the best entry-level camera on the market.
If you are looking for a compact camera for your travels, I have a dedicated in-depth guide on how to choose the best compact camera that includes a list of my personal recommendations. Best Compact Camera for Travel.
You can also learn more about the compact camera that I use for my travel photography.
After my camera and lens, I consider my tripod to be the most important piece of photography equipment I own. However, it is not an easy task to select the right tripod from thousands of models.
I recently outlined my process of selecting the right tripods and the importance of taking into consideration the weight of the tripod, the height of the photographer, features and price. You can find my practical guide here: How to Choose Best Travel Tripods – A Practical Guide
External Hard Drives
My photography workflow relies heavily on different types of external hard drives. If you are looking for a reliable hard drive, I have a dedicated guide to help. You can check it here: Best External Hard Drives for Photographers.
Also, if you travel frequently or have a traveling photographer in your life, I also have another piece of equipment that I strongly recommend—the My Passport Wireless external hard drive. This hard drive changed the way I travel and take photos on the road because it allows me to back-up my photos without using a computer. It is small, inexpensive and allows me to travel without a laptop. It is truly priceless. WD My Passport Wireless Pro Review.
Last year was eventful for the field of photography software. Only 12 months ago, it seemed almost impossible for any company to challenge Adobe’s domination with its combination of Lightroom and Photoshop. But, suddenly, we have multiple companies who have released a handful of innovative photography programs that are now contenders in a space once occupied solely by Adobe.
Here is a list of the three programs I currently use, all of which would make great gifts. What’s even better is that none of them offer the most hated phrase of 2017: “the subscription.”
Finally, the Windows users can benefit from using Skylum (former Macphun) photo editing tools including Luminar 2018.
Luminar 2018 offers everything a modern photographer needs for photo editing, including new filters powered by artificial intelligence, major speed improvements, a dedicated RAW develop module and a forthcoming in 2018; digital asset management platform.
Luminar is positioned to be the alternative to Lightroom and Photoshop subscription model: Lightroom Alternative? LUMINAR for Mac & Windows.
If you are ready to buy it, use discount code PHOTOTRACES to get additional 10% off.
Aurora HDR is not just a tool for merging bracketed images, it also provides numerous tools and countless options to create perfect HDR photos for every taste - from one-click presets and advanced tone-mapping, to layers, noise reduction, and luminosity masking controls.
With the release of Windows version of Aurora it quickly became my go to tools for all my HDR Photography needs. You can read my review here: Aurora HDR 2018 Review – First Impressions
If you are ready to buy it, use discount code PHOTOTRACES to get additional 10% off.
Finally, with the release of Photo RAW 2018 from ON1, we have a real competitor to Adobe Lightroom. Photo RAW is positioned not only as a solid alternative to Lightroom but to Photoshop as well.
Even though the Photo RAW still lacks in digital asset management area, it is starting to overpass Lightroom in the editing department.
You can download a free trial here.
I use different Lightroom and Photoshop plugins in my photography, but there is only one that I cannot live without—Topaz DeNoise. Topaz has 17 photography related plugins but, if I had to select only one, my favorite is DeNoise. By far, it is the most effective noise reduction tool around.
You can check my review here: Topaz Software Review – How I use Topaz Plugins