Getting started in photography can be intimidating. It’s an expensive, brand-specific, complicated hobby. Delving into the world of photographic accessories and gadgetry can be a minefield not only for the newbie photographer, but for their loved ones when considering birthday gifts for the hobbyist photographer.
Gifting a lens or flash demands knowing the camera brand and the photographer’s needs. So what can you get a hobbyist or amateur photographer that skirts the brand issue, and shows a sincere and loving interest in their passion?
There are options! We’ve compiled a list to make buying for your favorite photog much, much, easier. With a little help and creativity it is possible to buy a great present for a photographer that isn’t just a novelty lens coffee mug. There are tools and accessories to support their passion without requiring an unreasonable amount of knowledge regarding their setup. Here are our picks for the best birthday gifts for the hobbyist photographer.
In an extremely portable age, a tripod might seem like an obsolete option, but that isn’t the case. A tripod allows for long exposures, remote shutter release, self-portraits, and more. What was once basic, a tripod has become a versatile tool with tabletop versions, bendable arms, and different tripod heads.
If you’re looking for a basic tripod to introduce your photographer to mounted shooting, look no further. The Tacklife lightweight aluminum 55-inch tripod comes with a carrying bag and is able to accommodate both phones and cameras.
As with all hobbies, as the interest grows so does the equipment. At some point, it just makes sense to invest in a camera bag. Whether carrying multiple lenses, a flash unit, cleaning equipment, or multiple electronic storage options, a camera bag creates order from chaos and steps up the amateur to a more professional presentation.
The padding inside this medium bag by Altura Photo can be repositioned to accommodate the photographer’s needs. This camera bag offers storage and portability to the beginner without breaking the bank or the back.
Not long ago, this delicate prop dominated Instagram. The classic lens ball seems simplistic but offers a world of options to the creative eye. Invite your photographer to challenge themselves and deliver high-impact, unique photos with this distinct product. Additionally, a lens ball allows a photographer to delve deeper into selective focus and exposure with its one-of-a-kind play with light.
Toy cameras like the Holga can make for great birthday gifts for the hobbyist photographer. True, the term “toy camera” might cause hesitation and seem counter-intuitive. Why would you give your budding photographer a cheaper, weaker, notoriously problematic camera? Furthermore, why would you give them one that shoots on film? But really, a toy camera like the Holga is a wonderful learning tool to explore the manual functions of a camera.
With their legendary light leaks, and using 120 film, these little plastic cameras, and their cult following, have maintained an old school, playful approach to photography. Return to basics with no beeps, no wires, and no automatic exposure. Be sure to grab some 120 film when buying. And for those interested in the extra mile, this present opens the door to self-processing film and a darkroom setup.
Does the idea of gifting a lighting studio seem impossible? With this affordable and complete lighting kit setup, you can help introduce your photographer to the many options of studio lighting – and earn some serious brownie points for yourself! The Emart portrait studio kit comes with three studio heads, three lighting stands, four umbrellas, and a compact carrying case. The setup is ideal for a beginner who is just dipping their toe into studio lighting.
It’s important to note these lights are continuous lighting and not a strobe setup. Furthermore, the lights cannot be adjusted to reduce light output, therefore all lighting compensation must be done in camera, leading to a deeper knowledge of manual shooting. But as an added bonus, any regular household bulb will work.
Taking a photo is one thing; having a print of that photo is another. Seeing and touching your work can be an exhilarating experience whether you are starting out or not. However, no one wants to invest too much or be weighed down with burdensome electronics and wires. Not to mention, most photos end up in our phones, right? That’s why a portable photo printer might just be one of the most underrated, but best birthday gifts for the hobbyist photographer.
The portability, phone-compatibility, and instant gratification of the instax mini Link smartphone printer make it a mini present with a powerhouse punch. Additionally, with the wide availability of Instax cameras, the film is easy to get your hands on – so be sure to pick some up when purchasing!
Photography is all about working with light, but until you have the chance to play with light, you can’t always see the possibilities. These affordable 5-in-1 collapsible reflectors allow for an easy and exciting exploration of light in photographs, stepping it up to the next level.
Able to reduce to an extremely portable 10-inch pouch, they won’t take up too much space. By offering the ability to spotlight, warm, diffuse, or block out light, these reflectors will help your budding photographer discover new strength and impact in their photos.
The Mega Gift
For those interested in investing a little more for their favorite photographer, the Meural Canvas II is an incredible option. A stand-out in the land of electronic photo frames, this “smart” frame resembles professional artwork.
Complete with matte board and frame, all your photog’s work, including an arsenal of classic works available on the app, are presented in the most professional, impactful way possible. Boasting two sizes, (21.5” or 27” diagonally) of HD digital canvas mounted on four color options of matte board with WiFi connection, this epic frame promises to display photographs for maximum impact.
Choosing the Best Birthday Gifts for the Hobbyist Photographer
All of the gifts mentioned here are sure to help the hobbyist or amateur photographer in your life get a little more creative and improve in their craft. Pro photographers didn’t just start out that way; we all have to work at it and experimenting with new gear is a great first step!
The first time I used my tripod for a long exposure, the first time I saw a print of my work, the first time I started to use light instead of being burdened by it… these are all powerful moments in my personal journey of becoming a photographer. Challenge the photographer in your life to try something new. They will thank you.