It’s the time of year when you’ll see lots of “Holiday Gift Guides for Photographers” floating around the internet.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
I’ve published them in the past myself. Guilty as charged. ↩
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. ↩
It’s interesting to watch technology advances in the photo and video realm 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”:
— Brian Krogsgard (@Krogsgard) September 21, 2014
It seems to me that we see these technologies move through three 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?
I suspect the same applies in other fields. ↩
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.