It goes without saying graduating from high school is a time of upheaval. For the photo-addicted teen, endorsing their passion with a photography-related graduation gift seems like an easy answer. But the graduation present needs to grow with the teen as they move on to the next step of their lives and as they develop their skills as a photographer.
We want to help you think outside the box to find the perfect present for the graduate about to start a new adventure. Here are our picks for the best high school graduation gifts for photographers.
1. Adobe Photoshop Subscription (Overall Winner)
These days digital post-processing is a vital part of photography. Keep in mind, high schoolers are losing access to resources they’ve relied on for years either through home or school. Luckily, Adobe Photoshop is almost completely digital, allowing photographers to use their extensive and professional tools with nothing more than a subscription and WiFi access.
Photoshop’s tools and technology have the ability to grow with the photographer as they develop their skills. And, bonus, it won’t take up any dorm room space, making it one of the most convenient high school graduation gifts for photographers!
In case it needed to be pointed out, teenagers love their phones. They are a generation of vloggers, streamers, Twitchers, Tik Tok-ers, and selfie-takers. And the ring light is the undeniable favorite to get beautiful, filtered lighting for all of the many social media platforms.
With a tripod for the phone, brightness adjustment, and changeable light filters, this handy kit will please any graduating photographer. This might also be a good time to pick up a remote shutter release for that extra editing tool. (P.S. You can use this to guilt them into FaceTiming more often.)
Clearly, light is an essential component of photography, but delving into flash photography is a tricky business. Books introducing lighting techniques in photography can be great high school graduation gifts for photographers, but there’s something to be said for learning through experience! This dynamic lighting bundle from Lume Cube offers photographers a series of tools and shooting modes to step up their game.
Able to be mounted on a DSLR, or used in conjunction with a smartphone, this tiny travel-sized light offers adjustable brightness levels and a strobe feature. With Bluetooth compatibility and a bundle of 15 accessories including diffusers, colored gel filters, and barn door adjustments, the pocket-sized Lume Cube AIR introduces the photographer to the complicated, nuanced world of flash and light.
There are instant film cameras – available at every drug store – and then there is the Fujifilm instax mini 90 NEO CLASSIC. This camera takes widely available instant film but offers more choices for the seasoned, experimental photographer.
While this powerhouse mini offers the same instant gratification and automatic shooting modes of a classic instant camera, it also goes a step further offering multiple and long exposures as well as macro mode for the more artistic photographer. Boasting an undeniably trendy, retro design, this little camera is much more than it appears. Be sure to grab some film.
A bracket may not seem like the flashiest gift, but the advantages this tool provides cannot be overstated. This deceptively simple contraption is one of the most useful high school graduation gifts for photographers because it helps the photographer improve image quality, lighting, and professional presentation.
A DSLR system without a bracket has the flash attached to the camera. As a result, when the photographer shifts from a landscape to portrait orientation, the flash hangs off to the side, which can create unwanted shadows and hot spots on the subject. A handy attachment like the Neewer Quick Flip Rotating Flash Bracket allows you to adjust the placement of the flash unit so you can control where and how the light is being directed at your subject.
For those interested in going the extra mile, classic photography brands like Nikon and Canon offer kits you can gift the high school graduate, setting them up for the next phase of their photographic development. Nikon offers a D5600 bundle that includes the 24.2MP DSLR body with two lenses, filters, storage, flash and cleaning equipment, plus more.
Don’t stop there! In addition, bokeh, or background blur, is one of the most magical photography techniques. With a universal bokeh kit like this one by Bokeh Prime, photographers can add playful and interesting bokeh patterns to their compositions. The kit comes with 72 shapes to give your photos that extra personal touch and unique look and further strengthen the narrative.
And as a cherry on top, how about going the academic route? Who doesn’t love a good flashcard session? These photography quick reference cards/cheat sheets can really come in handy for the beginner photographer. Your graduating photographer will get access to over 40 pages of portable tips and tricks to keep developing their skills.
9. The Photographer’s Guide to Marketing and Self-Promotion (Budget Winner)
Being able to take beautiful photographs is the first step towards becoming a professional photographer, but marketing yourself is an essential, and often overlooked, component of establishing yourself. Written by a professional photographer, The Photographer’s Guide to Marketing and Self-Promotion offers practical advice on establishing a marketing plan, self-promotion, social media presence, and website development, as well as other ways to turn the passion of photography into a business.
This book is a great present that your graduate can keep for years to come, and it’s super affordable, making it our top choice for a budget option!
Support and Encouragement: The Ultimate High School Graduation Gifts for Photographers
(But a new DSLR never hurt anyone.)
Developing your tool kit is a process that grows with the photographer themselves. So any present given to the graduating photograph fanatic is guaranteed to help them grow and develop their craft. With each new tool, a budding photographer is given another chance to define their visual narrative, create their own branded look, and develop their portfolio.
Ultimately, each of these high school graduation gifts for photographers sends a message of support. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be useful, practical, and awesome. Having the right tools, the right guidance, and the right access to grow, learn, and develop their craft is essential. But again, no one is turning down a new DSLR.