The Reality-Check Gift Guide for Photographers

It’s the time of year when you’ll see lots of “Holiday Gift Guides for Photographers” floating around the internet[1].

I hope I don’t ruin the festivities by interjecting a slight reality check here with a couple notable facts that might spoil the parade of gift guides.

Photographer Gift Guide

  • Most of those gifts guides are being created not purely for fun, but because there’s decent money to be made with affiliate links to all of the products. Other photographers are be sponsored by a manufacturer and incentivized to promote certain brands.
  • Most photographers work in a certain style, with preferred types of gear, made by their preferred manufacturers. There are very few general gifts that all photographers are going to love. Some shoot digital, some film; some photograph landscapes, others people; many enjoy retro film items, some think film is dead. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll buy a gift that garners a sigh or an eyeroll (privately of course… since your friends are nice). You get the idea[2].

That said… here’s what I think is a better option for all:

A Realistic Gift Guide for Photographers

  • Ask them what they want. If you don’t want to ask directly, see if they have an Amazon wish list.
  • If you really have no idea but know them a bit, get them a generic-enough gift card that it could be used by any photographer. For example, for their favorite airline. Or for an outfit selling a broad range of products such as B&H Photo or Amazon[3].

I appreciate that you want to get something helpful for your photographer friend. I really do. But the less misfit gifts based on a misguided internet blog post… the better.


  1. I’ve published them in the past myself. Guilty as charged.  ↩

  2. Of course, if you really know the person well, feel free to buy them something appropriate – but if you know them that well, you probably don’t need to read someone else’s gift guide.  ↩

  3. If you really want affiliate links since I’m such a swell guy, well, here you go: B&H Photo / Amazon.com  ↩

The Three Phases of New Creative Technology

It’s interesting to watch technology advances in the photo and video realm[1] that make previously-inaccessible options possible for the general consumer.

Three quick examples that come to mind are GoPro cameras (offering cheap, durable cameras capable of HD video or time lapse photography), the Hyperlapse app (making sped-up timelapse photography extremely simple), or the slow-motion video capability Apple has introduced with the last couple of iPhones. A tweet from Brian Krogsgard brought this to mind as he notes the potential for a particular technology to be “way overused”:

It seems to me that we see these technologies move through three phases:

Creative Technology Phases

  • At Introduction, we’re all excited by the promise of the new technology as we watch the carefully-crafted demonstrations.
  • We then enter a phase of novelty where something is interesting merely because it was made with the new techology. A video was interesting simply because someone made it with a GoPro on their head. A slow motion video was interesting simply because it was a slow motion video of something not often seen in slow motion. There’s nothing wrong with the novelty phase – even if it seems like something is overused – it can lead to some interesting material. The general formula at this point is often "Let’s do ____________ (thing we’ve already done) using __________ (new tech / equipment).
  • Finally we move into what I call the creativity phase, where folks apply real creative thought in combination with the new technology. Instead of applying the new technology to what’s already been done, this is where folks figure out what previously-impossible thing can be done now with the new technology.

When I discuss “possible” and “impossibility” above, some of it is purely technical but it’s also an issue of accessibility. Folks could make sped-up timelapse videos long before the Hyperlapse app, but to do so required both camera hardware to capture the timelapse along with software (and software skills) to create the final product. Hyperlapse eliminated those barriers.

The future is pretty neat. What else will we see move through these phases soon?


  1. I suspect the same applies in other fields.  ↩

WP Photographers: WordPress + Photography

Earlier this week I launched WP Photographers, covering topics around WordPress for photographers.

This is kind of a “duh” thing as I’ve been deep into those two worlds for quite a while, yet it seems there’s not anyone really covering that space in depth. As I floated the idea in both communities over the last few months the reaction was generally enthusiastic… so I built it and here we are.

It’s a start. Much more to come.

If you’re a photographer who uses WordPress, it’s for you. If you’re a WordPresser who uses images and photos on your site, it’s for you.

WordPress for Photographers

Photo Equipment Deals – Announcing PhotoGearDeals.com

Photography is expensive.

And I hate paying list price.

There are deals out there, and I come across them from time to time. I ignore a lot because I’m not always looking for what’s hot right now. A little while back I realized that instead of ignoring these, perhaps I could pass them along. And perhaps this would be a good basis for a new website focused purely on gear, since I’m trying to keep Splat Photo a bit more business/marketing/informationally-focused.

Hence PhotoGearDeals.com where I’m going to highlight current offers on cameras, lenses, software, and other goodies for photographers.

Subscribe over there via RSS, email, Twitter, or just hit the website frequently to see what’s new.

2013 and Personal Photography Projects

A couple weeks ago, I started to review my catalog of 2012 photos to see what the year had meant for me in the photo world. Even before looking into Lightroom I knew what I was going to find.

Oh snap, that darned photographer moved his camera again.

I made very few personal photos in 2012 compared to recent years.

Professionally, this was my busiest year, with various commercial, portrait, and event clients keeping me fairly busy. I enjoyed the range of projects I worked for clients. But personal work, for fun, for enjoyment, for growth and learning? I lagged.

I could run through a variety of excuses but they all boil down to me not prioritizing the time to get out and shoot.

Gotta change that in 2013. Want to help me out? Hold my ass accountable. If I go a while without sharing anything current, ask me what I’m working on.

New year starts today. Let’s go.

Pike Place Market in the evening at Christmastime.

Announcing Splat Photo

Splat PhotoI’d like to announce Splat Photo a new website-based venture I’ve started to focus on information for today’s connected photographer.

Splat Photo will be the home for all of my photography-related writing and resources, including, but not limited to:

* Commentary on industry trends
* Reviews of photo-related products and services
* Information on photography events

In short, photo-related things that would’ve been published here will now be found at Splat Photo. I will also be increasing the amount of photography articles published.

If you’re following me for photography things (either as an amateur or pro), you’ll want to follow Splat Photo.

Head over to Splat Photo – better yet, subscribe via RSS or email for my photography writing and other related information.