October is here, autumn is in full force, the clocks will be changing soon and incredibly, there’s only 11 weeks until that time when we eat too much, drink too much and spend much too much money on our loved ones. But it’s the giving of gifts that makes Christmas. There’s nothing quite like the look on your young son’s face when he opens a present containing yet more pairs of ridiculously themed socks from his great grandmother or the look on your partner’s face when you present them with the tickets for the photo tour to the long-lusted after destination that they never stop talking about.
So I’ve put together a few ideas for the perpetually awkward person to buy Christmas gifts for, the photographer in the family.
So starting with the cheapest first…..
1) On the occassions that we surf through our family photos on the Apple TV with friends and members of the extended family, it regularly comes up in conversation that we appear to be a one parent family. I'm hardly ever in them as it's always me taking the photo in the first place. That was until I snagged myself one of these super cheap and easy to use selfie sticks. I was scoffed at and ridiculed when it arrived through the post, but we've had some great laughs with it on our travels and my wife no longer looks like a single parent in most of our family snaps.
2) Another fun one. Simply set your phone to timelapse mode, wind the clockwork Muvi round to how long you want to shoot for (90° degree (15 minutes), 180° degree (30 minutes), 270° degree (45 minutes), 360° degree (60 minutes)), pop your phone into the cradle and start shooting. The results are fantastic and for so little cost, it's a great little toy. The smartphone cradle removes and reveals a standard tripod screw, and it's the same on the bottom. It'll only hold up to 750g but it's not really meant for anything serious!
3) The Landscape Photographer of the Year competition is one of the few that I make a point of entering every year. I even managed to get shortlisted one year and I love the work that is entered. It's always of such a high standard that the competition is really fierce. When the judges eventually get round to whittling down the thousands and thousands of entries, they put together a wee book of the winning entries.
Now in it's ninth year, the book to accompany Charlie Waite's brainchild is a stunning compilation of some of the best photography of the British Isles.
4) Question: When does a photographer utter the most expletives?
Answer: When they've spent hours making some stunning images only to realise that they've got dust spots all over their images and now have to spend hours painstakingly removing all the bloomin' things.
From someone who really ought to look after their kit better, I can testify that one of these kits is an absolute essential.
5) Obviously the start to a new year wouldn't be the same without the ritual hanging of a new calendar on the wall, and what better way to get a spot of daily inspiration than with some beautiful photographs of the UK's most stunning national parks. There's about a 3 week lead time when ordering as they're printed on demand so get your order in soon. Prices start at £16.99 + delivery.
There's an A3 one, or
6) Photographers love to look at the work of others and there's no better way than with a framed print on the wall. I've moved all my prints over to the Fine Art America service because quite simply, it's fantastic. All UK orders are printed and fulfilled from this side of the pond and come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Prices start at £28 and there are a plethora of options available including having them framed and ready to hang when they arrive on your doorstep. Check them out here.
7) This little fella is a very handy gadget. Sick of your family photographer lugging a huge cumbersome tripod around everywhere, then this wee chap is just what you need. It's certainly not a tripod replacement by any stretch of the imagination but it's a fraction of the size and weight of most tripods and is small enough to fit inside a backpack.
Perfect for those who want to travel with minimal kit and it's so discrete that you can often get away with using it in places where a security guard would be all over you before your tripod's feet even touched the ground.
8) Finding the right camera backpack is rather like searching for the Holy Grail but I was recently sent one of these to try out by my good friends at M&M Photo Tours. This is the second Clik Elite bag that I have now and I love them. There's always a compromise between the amount of gear I want to take somewhere, the weight I can carry and accessibility to that gear. The Impulse Sling is an ingenious concept that allows me to fit a body or two, a couple of lenses, filters and gloves etc in a small compact pack that I don't actually have to take off in order to access my gear; I simply release a clip and it swings around my shoulder providing easy access to the camera compartment. No pudding it down on the street or in a muddy field to get a camera out.
9) My collection of tripods seems to be growing at a rather alarming rate lately. Another tester sent from the US, I originally saw one of these in use in Scotland earlier this year. Compared to most of my other three-legged monsters, this lightweight carbon fibre affair packs into an insanely small carry pack yet still provides a rock solid grounding for my camera when I'm traveling. My body isn't getting any younger and often my back cries out at me to be a little more considerate. Strapping a 4kg tripod and a full flask of coffee onto an already overweight rucksack isn't always the smartest thing for me to do. Obviously I can't dispense with the coffee, so replacing the RRS version with this wee Benro fella when I've distances to cover on foot has been a major spine saver!
10) And finally, no gift list would be complete without a spot of travel thrown in. Does the photographer in your life lust after visiting new destinations, to see new places, mix with other like-minded folk, and try out new tips and techniques? Well then, I'm leading a couple of photo tours next year to do exactly that. I'll be in Iceland in March for an 11 day tour and in the Highlands and islands of Scotland in June to photograph some of the most amazing scenery this planet of ours has to offer. A great opportunity to come back with some stunning photographs and great stories to tell, these trips are worth every penny and unlike general tourist tours, they are organised specifically for photographers.