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12 Gift Ideas for Photographers

Happy holidays our dear readers. With two weeks left till Christmas, you’re probably either looking forward to having some time off from work, to finishing your exams and going home during your winter break, or to having your family gather under one roof. Maybe you have all your holiday shopping done. If you’re like me, maybe you haven’t quite finished with your shopping list and are starting panic.

Here are 12 holiday gift ideas for your photographic loved ones or significant others. Maybe you just need an excuse to spend that annual bonus on yourself. We tried to recommend quality items rather than trinkets to be thrown away before the new year. That being said, these suggestions range from $9,995 to $0, so there’s bound to be one to suit your budget.

12. For the Photographer that “Has It All” – Hasselblad H5D-40


So your significant other already has a Canon 1DX, Nikon D4S, and/or a Leica M9. Their disposable income allows them to purchase whichever lens they want, as soon as they can leave the office of course. All this makes it nearly impossible to buy him or her a sufficient gift.

Chances are, he/she doesn’t have this baby. The Hasselblad H5D-40, a camera that cost $18,500 just over a week ago, is currently on sale for the amazing price of $9,995. At 46% off. It’s sort of a great deal. Comes with free shipping too.

Being a Medium Format camera with 40 MegaPixels, your loved one can shoot billboard sized photos to their heart’s content. If I were in your shoes, I would buy the one with a 80mm f/2.8 lens so he/she can get started right away.

What’s so special about Hasselblad? Hasselblad is essentially the Rolls-Royce of cameras (but it’s the Rolls-Royce of the late 90s when they were nearly bankrupt). While there are rumors of impending bankruptcy, there is also somewhat of a fire-sale going on at Hasselblad. Which is great for us. But if $9,995 is too much money, they are also selling a $2300 $999 re-branded Sony as the Hasselblad Stellar. But I would recommend against that one because it’s not really a Hassy.

11. For the Outdoor Fashion/Portrait Photographer – Profoto B1 Professional Quality Remote Flash


So you’re buying for a fashion/portrait photographer trying to make it in the industry. Maybe he/she just started their own studio. Maybe he/she is finally getting some traction and want to take things to the next level. Well when it comes to photographic tools, quality, reliability, and consistency are the holy trinity for professionals.

Professionals rely on the Swedish brand Profoto. Their spokesperson even wears frameless glasses and a black turtle neck. You know that’s legit. And boy do the prices show. But the quality is there, as these reviews show here and here.

Why would you want a Profoto B1 Professional Quality Remote Flash over a conventional flash? Well, mainly because this thing can out-power the sun, which is very important when you want to control the light while shooting portraits outdoors. Even your flagship Canon or Nikon flash units aren’t powerful enough in bright situations.

10. For the Photographer/Videographer Looking for a New Angle – Phantom 2 Camera Drone ($1,099)

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So your son in film school is trying to stand out among his classmates as the next Christopher Nolan. Maybe your wedding videographer husband wants a widget that will bring his production to another level. Or maybe you just want to try out aerial photography. Well, drone photography has been really taking off in the last few years (sorry about the pun). Quality units have become more and more affordable.

DJI is one of the biggest name in the camera drone industry. They offer different kits and accessories to suit your needs and desires. The Phantom 2 drone kit has just the right bells and whistles to get you started and let you grow in this field of photography. Just watch out for those camera drown laws.

9. For the Portrait/Beauty Photographer – AlienBees ABR800 Ring Flash ($399)

abr800_face_0710For portrait photographer working on a budget, few items are more coveted yet affordable as a ring flash. At $399, while not terribly expensive or out of reach, many make do with conventional strobes and studio lights.

Ring flashes are unique in their quality of light. Originally used for dental and macro photography, ring flashes surround the camera lens and thus produces even illumination with soft or no shadows. When used in a portrait setting, it casts a very flattering light on the model and also throws an attractive circular catch light for the eyes.

Paul C. Buff is an independent American company that makes affordable yet quality light units. This ABR800 is self contained and can either be used on camera as a ring flash or off camera as a regular studio light. It can even come with a 30″ Moon Unit modifier to further soften the light. With a long enough extension cord, photographers can use this ring flash outdoors with the minimum of fuss.

8. For the Surfer, Biker, Runner, Boarder, Skier, Racer, Drifter, Drone Flyer, Parachutist, Film Major, or Stunt Double – GoPro HERO ($129+) 


I think just about every photography or videography enthusiasts have one point or another thought about picking up one of these tiny GoPro cameras. They are rugged enough to use anywhere, small enough to attach anywhere, and inexpensive enough to not worry about damage. While they are marketed at the thrill seekers, I suspect most GoPro users aren’t daredevils.

Instead, GoPros can be a great behind-the-scenes camera for capturing your studio shoot or as a secondary camera to get those impossible angles. The most affordable unit is only $129 while the top of the line Hero4 BLACK edition is $499. The Hero4 Black is even capable of 30fps 4k video which, as discussed earlier, can be used for vidtography (video photography). In the middle is the Hero4 SILVER edition, which comes with a LCD back for easy composition.

7. For the Photographer Always on the Go – Zap&Go Graphene Superconductor Charger ($99) 


You just stumbled off of a 12 hour trans-pacific flight. You’re connecting at Haneda airport rushing to your next gate as your flight was delayed. Your phone says 1% battery life and all the free charging stations are taken. You need to call or email your client in Shanghai to let them know you running late for the fashion show. What do you do?

Well if you are prepared, you can pull out your battery pack to charge your phone. But you’ve already used that up during the flight and it takes about 2 hours to recharge that battery.

Enter this little gizmo that’s currently being crowd funded at Indiegogo (and it ends today). Zap&Go is a grapheme semiconductor battery that just takes 5 minute to fully charge. The technology is pretty incredible. So you plug this baby in for 5 minutes, take it on the flight with you, charge your phone, get on in-flight wifi, and save your business.

6. For the Annie Leibovitz Fan – 60″ Photek Softlighter II ($99)

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Stand is sold separately.

For regular followers of our site, you’ll know that we are huge fans of Annie Leibovitz. Annie’s portraits are reminiscent of Rembrandt’s sitting portraits where the subject is bathed in ultra soft light. A key to this style is in her equipment and Annie’s light modifier of choice is the ultra portable Photek Softlighter II. Check out our How To series if you want to learn more.

Another option is the Paul C. Buff PLM parabolic umbrella system. They come in 51″, 64″ and all the way up to a 86″ mega umbrella to which you could add a front diffusion fabric to make the umbrella into a softbox. It’s about $75 for a 64″ umbrella + diffusion fabric, but check out this Strobist comparison of the PLM vs. the Softlighter. The Softlighter is more compact and easier to work with while the PLM comes in bigger sizes and work better with strobes which can utilize its parabolic nature.

5. For Lens Collectors and Those Who Buy & Sell their Gear Online – Foldio Portable Lightbox ($59+)


Most likely the photographer you are shopping for has a few lenses for his camera. Most likely he/she is quite into selling off his used lenses so he can fund his next purchase. This is called Gear Acquisition Syndrome and it affects so many millions of us everyday that we dedicated an article to dealing with it.

But that’s the great thing about this passion. Camera lenses hold their value extremely well, so much so that you can own a used a lens for years and even sell it off at a profit with no net costs. That’s assuming you have a good product shot of course.

Enter the Foldio 2. From the guys who designed and created the 10″ Foldio 1, the new Foldio 2 is a foldable 15″ light box with integrated LED lighting. It has already greatly exceeded it’s $50k goal on Kickstarter so the project is definitely going ahead. You have until January 17, 2015 to back this project.

4. For the Terry Richardson Fan – CB Mini RC Flash Bracket ($47)

cm-mini-rcLittle did anyone know that this simple, seemingly innocuous piece of anodized aluminum would contribute to making Terry Richardson the highest paid photographer in the world. Love him or hate him , we are huge fans of Terry’s photographic work and career. We dedicated a 3 part series to learn his iconic style of photography.

If the photographer you are shopping for enjoys taking modern portraits that you see in every major fashion magazine, this is an inexpensive yet essential accessory. Make sure you pick up a $5 1/4″ Hot Shoe Adapter to go along with this bracket, otherwise their his/her flash won’t be able to mount to the bracket.

3. For the Portrait/Fashion Photographer – JBL Clip Bluetooth Speaker ($45)


For portrait and fashion photographers in the know, music is an important part of every photo shoot. It cuts the silence, sets the mood, and lets two artists work harmoniously together. However, not every location will have a sound system, especially if you are hiking up some remote location to get the perfect shot.

Enter JBL Clip Bluetooth Speaker, a small amplified speaker that clips effortlessly onto your camera bag. Just connect it to your phone wirelessly or via a built in AUX cable and blast those tunes. The sound quality is great for its size. I have one permanently clipped onto my camera bag.

2. For the Aspiring Portrait Photographer – Studio Rental ($19/hr+)


A photographer can have the best gear in the industry but really nothing beats practicing your craft. So a great gift for that aspiring portrait photographer is to buy them a gift certificate for time in a studio. Photography studios are plentiful in most cities and rates range depending on its location, amenities, and size. Typically studios run for $35/hour and up. Some photography school rent out their empty studios during off hours and the summer and those can be great deals.

In Los Angeles, iLHP likes to work with FD Photo Studio, located in the heart of DTLA. The area surrounding the studio is a little sketchy, a few blocks away from skid row, but the people are friendly, the prices are great ($19 and up), and its policies are flexible.

1. For the Photographer in Training – Photography Workshops at ($Free+)


Photography can be a lonely hobby/profession. Depending on what type of photography you are into, most photographers shoot alone. It’s just them and their gear. But it doesn’t have to be.

There are a myriad of photography meetup groups in cities across the world and they are a great way of socializing with like-minded people and learning from those with different skill sets. I can unashamedly say that I really had my start in portrait photography in one of those meetup groups and the rest is history.

Most workshops will cost money, around $100 for a 3-4 hour session. A workshop coordinator sets the theme of the seminar, promotes it on, and interested parties sign up online. However, there are also many monthly meetup groups where a bunch of photographers get together and just do what they love best. Enjoy photography.