My Simple 2011 Photographer Gift Guide

The thing about wishlist is that half of what people include are occupied by things they don’t necessarily have the money for and are often over the top in terms of expense so the question is how realistic are the chances they will received what they want. Personally, the expensive commodities are the ones I purchase on my own and what I look forward as a gift from others are accessories that would complement and strengthen both the high-priced toys I have and the process of using them.

As the holidays approach, every popular photography site I subscribe to have begun publishing their photographer holiday wish-list which includes the typical gear you would expect avid photographers to suggest such as specific tripods, cameras or lenses. Recommendations are worthwhile but with regard to photography equipment, the litany of suggestions can become redundant after the third blog post you’ve read.

I don’t claim for my photography wishlist to be insanely ground-breaking but I’ve wanted to stay away from mentioning the predictable and take into account photographic gifts which might be overlooked. My wife struggles with having the type of husband that buys himself gadgets he wants during the year that it becomes difficult for her to make sense of what she can surprise me with for Christmas.

To alleviate her discomfort, I write at least 6 gift ideas on small individual pieces of paper that I deposit in a jar where she then randomly selects 2 or 3 things that will ultimately be my gifts. To make it fair, she does the same and what this process does is guarantee that we’ll receive presents we’ll go crazy over while still taking into account that it’s the thought that counts.

Here are the 6 items I included on my wishlist:

Rent at

1. Gift Certificate: There’s honestly no need to plunge into debt at the expense of having the latest lens if you’re not making money out of photography unless of course you’re rich and you can afford it. I only own 3 lenses (18-105mm, 50mm f/1.8 and 85mm f/1.8) and as much as I would love to add a fisheye or a macro lens to my arsenal, I’m satisfied with simply renting them when I need it and for that I’ve been utilizing for the last 2 years. The closest thing to being able to shoot with expensive lenses is someone else gifting you with a gift certificate from these guys. You can’t go wrong.

Favorite photography books by David Duchemin.

2. Any of David duChemin’s books: There are dozens of “how-to” and “best gear” oriented books for photography and I feel a large portion of them are absorbed by the tool-oriented part of photography and not too much on the vision aspects unless you speak about any of David duChemin’s literary work.

Look at it this way. If all you do is spend endless hours playing with your tool, you’ll eventually become a great technician but not necessarily a great artist. This year forget about buying new gear and invest on trying to establish your personal style.

I probably should join David’s affiliated program since I always speak highly of his work but sharing how inspiring his words and work are is enough for me. He’s always explaining that the best photography is more than great colors, brilliant effects and artsy angles but that a good photo must say and communicate something that will resonate with who’s viewing it. All of his books are packed with stunning photographic examples of his vision which makes it a book to lush over. I own Within a Frame and I’m looking to ultimately own them all.

Book to improve your writing.Photograph by Lidia Camacho.

3. Writing Down the Bones: I can’t say much about the book because I don’t own a copy yet but suffice to say the sample chapter of it on the Kindle was fantastic. From what I read and from the much worthy praises it’s received, the book is inspirational, insightful as well as instructional.

One of Natalie Goldberg lessons is: “writing isn’t about being famous, it’s not even about finishing some magnum opus, it’s about writing. And if you can find a way to fit writing into your life, then that’s a gift, and one you should hold onto.”

What does a book on improving your writing have to do with photography you ask? Well, as stated in this Guardian article, “there are too many great photographers who also write well about photography”. The more I look, notice and capture with my camera, the more I realize it often influences how I write because I believe there’s a relationship that exist between taking photos and realizing the power of words. I love taking photos as much as I enjoy the process of writing what went into capturing them.

Show your passion for photograpy and coffee with these mugs.

4. Nikon or Canon Coffee Mug: I’m not a zealous coffee drinker like the kind of people every morning at Starbucks but I’m willing to incorporated the drink into my lifestyle with a mug like this.

Elgant way to decorate your homes with your photographs.

5. Canvas Pop Gift Certificate: One of the biggest concerns regarding canvas photo prints is the worry of the high-tagged price that’s given to owning such a beautiful product. A canvas prints is perhaps the ideal decoration for the wall in your bedroom, living room or even your office. Imagine the possibilities for your office. I’ve done a bit of researching in finding an affordable online source to create these and Canvas Pop by far has the best deals and they’re made it incredibly easy to gift.

Perfect accessory for street photography.

6. Super Secret Spy Lens: The concept is to point your camera 90 degrees away from your subject and the mirror inside the attachment reflects the image to your lens. I love taking candid shots of people just living their lives and doing real things completely unaware there’s a camera nearby but that’s not always easy with a dSLR. People freeze up and shy away but this nifty accessory can alleviate that common reaction people have towards cameras.

All the potential gifts I’ve listed are relatively inexpensive and under $75. As a photographer, I don’t ask for much because as I mentioned, the high-priced gear I purchase myself.