Surprise the photographer in your life with one of these thoughtful gift ideas. The staff at the New York Institute of Photography, America's oldest and largest photography school, chose these items from the innovative and exciting products that entered the market this year as well as some tried and tested photo products that we love.
There are lots of holiday lists provided by stores and magazines, but they're often swayed by profit margins or advertisers. At NYI, we're advertiser-free, so we talked to our staff of working photographers and came up with the following selective — and short — list.
Our Guide includes ideas for every type of photographer, and for every budget. For some of our selections, you'll need access to the photographer's images. So if you plan a surprise, you'll have to be a bit sneaky!
Personalized Magnets, Mugs, and Mouse Pads ($4.95 and up)
Use your photos to create practical gifts your family and friends will enjoy all year long.
Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket ($16.50)
Store 10 memory cards in a small, compact package that fits easily in your pocket or attaches to your belt or bags.
2011 Photographer's Market ($21.95) ($18.95)
A terrific resource of updated photo industry contacts to help sell, market, and exhibit your photos.
20 Personalized U.S. Postage Stamps ($18.95)
Order a set of official U.S. postage stamps that are customized with the image of your choice. A book of stamps printed with your favorite photographer's prized landscape or portrait will be sure to delight.
Blurb gift card ($20 and up)
Give the gift of self publishing, and let your photographer create his or her own photo book! There's nothing more satisfying for aspiring photographers than seeing their work in print. Custom publishing companies like Blurb give photographers the chance to create their dream compilations of their work. These books are available in hard cover and soft cover, in a variety of sizes. A $20 gift card will get your photographer an 8 x 10 soft cover album.
Fifty Business cards from MOO.com ($21.99)
A set of beautiful, customizable business cards allows a photographer to put different images on every card so that they function as both business cards and a mini portfolio. They'll make a perfect stocking stuffer for the networking photographer!
Kiva Gift Card ($25 and up)
With a Kiva Card, you're giving the power to change lives. If the photographer in your life has it all, they'll feel good giving back to a global community of entrepreneurs. Kiva says it best: "Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending."
Aquapac Waterproof Camera Cases ($30 and up)
These sealed camera cases allow you to use any camera in the water! If the photographer in your family is interested in underwater photography, a waterproof case will make it easy to explore this fascinating specialty area. $30 will get you a waterproof case for a digital point-and-shoot; for slightly more you can buy cases for an SLR or video camera.
Studio Background Support System ($99 - $169)
For the portrait photographer who needs a portable studio, consider the Impact 12' Background Support System. It consists of 2 heavy-duty professional support stands with 3 positive locking knobs and tubular legs, a sturdy 4 piece crossbar that snaps together with positive button locking devices, and a heavy-duty canvas carry bag. Check it out at B&H
You can also add a versatile white muslin background for an extra $60.
Finally, if you've got a family member who is looking for a pocket sized camera with professional features, consider the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX9 ($399).
We've been experimenting with Sony's new "Sweep Panorama" technology, and it's a terrific way to capture expansive horizons with one click. Just hit the shutter and sweep the camera across the scene. It does all of the stitching for you in camera, eliminating long hours of post production work. It also features a 12 megapixel Carl Zeiss lens, HD video capture, and 3D technology.
Check the camera here.
Sony's intriguing sweep panorama technology can also be found in the company's DSLRs, including the Alpha 55, just named "Camera of the Year" by Popular Photography.
Whatever gifts you choose, the holiday season starts off a year-long adventure of picture taking. Enjoy!