A few years ago I posted a fantasy Christmas wish list. Things I have lusted after longer than I can remember. Mostly goofy stuff that I really have no use for. Some of it actually quite useless or just about useless in today's photographic world. Here we are a few years down the road and a lot of those things I still lust after - are still just about useless to me - and I haven't acquired any of them. This time around I thought I would post some real world photography gifts in case any of you needed ideas to give others that might want to get you something related to photography. The suggestions are not crazy stuff that nobody could afford to get you - they are things that most of us could want but maybe are a little off the beaten path. Just some food for thought.
Don't you just hate when someone buys you a gift that is somehow "photography related" and they have no clue. Especially stuff like digital point and shoot photography for dummies books and the like. Nice… Ummmm… thanks man I'm sure glad you got me this, just what I always wanted. Wives, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, in-laws, friends - let's face it they are not going to "surprise you" with a new Hasselblad H5D-60, a Phase One, a 400 f2.8 or things like that. They are probably not going to upgrade your current kit nor would you want them anywhere near being involved with any of those kinds of things. Good chance you already have it or have it planned if you need those big ticket items.
Here are a few things that might fit the bill, are in the range of affordable, and you might not have thought of. Some practical and some a little out there but probably interesting to most of us.
- If you are at all into shooting film of course that is easy and affordable. Who wouldn't like a couple rolls or bricks of their favorite film stock?
- Oh - you don't shoot film. You wouldn't believe how many times I have been asked by people what I want for Christmas and I never even think of the ultimate in mundane digital related staples. Who the heck wouldn't want yet another couple of camera batteries? Or even memory card/s. To make sure you get what you actually want/need Amazon wish-lists and such are great. If the manufacturer's batteries are a little on the high-end side of price range don't be scared of Wasabi brands. I have a bunch of them for Fuji and Nikon and they are at least the equal but cost half as much.
- Books. I have received more than a few insanely bad photography books as unsolicited gifts. All of them are quite inane How-to books. That's funny since I have a list of books 10 miles long that I would love to have. Again - Amazon wish lists. Most of the books I want are monographs by photographers I love or find very interesting rather than "How-To" books. Most of them are crazy cheap if they are not newly released or somehow collectable.
- Lighting gear. If you happen to use any off camera lighting their is incredible diversity of great gifts that all of us could use that range in price from a couple bucks to a couple hundred. Another reflector, adaptors, another trigger, one of a hundred lighting modifiers, CTO and CTB gels are practically disposable, who wouldn't want another speedlight? Stands, boom arms, clamps, grids, snoots, barndoors, nobody has everything they need. Unless you are a complete Profoto snob there is a ton of stuff that I could put on my list that is very affordable and I would love to have. Heck - these reflectors are fantastic for the price - in some ways better than the big name brands.
- Speaking of lighting - Go out in left field compared to what's on your "every day" need list. Put something experimental on your list. Way, way back in the early 1990's I purchased a hideously expensive fresnel spot 3 light kit. It was a big name brand that movie people use. It's gone now, lost in one of my cross-planet moves. Not a lot of still photographers have any continuous lighting gear. In this age of video we could all use one or two really versatile "movie" lights and there are some amazing options out there that don't require a $2000/light investment. Even if you don't really "do" video I am sure that you are in the position where you need to make a quick video here and there. What's more is that you probably don't have any fresnel gear - fantastic stuff to get you out of a lighting rut even for stills. I plan on buying one before the year is out. Not 3, just one. I am going to take a chance on a 100W Chinese LED fresnel that can be powered by different sources - it's about $300, daylight balanced and produces the equivalent of 1000W tungsten. I already have the stands. It will give me amazingly different looks for stills and be great for a video here and there as well.
- Education, there are plenty of really really great educational resources that all of us can take advantage of. Everything from eBooks for a few dollars, to videos for about a hundred dollars, to one day workshops with amazingly accomplished pros for a few hundred dollars.
Just some food for thought if you draw a blank when someone asks you what you might want for Christmas.