"When gifts are given to me through my camera, I accept them graciously."
1. SIMPLE CAMERA:
I believe that everyone is a photographer, whether they know it or not. Mama ClizBiz snaps away all the time in her quiet, shy way so this year she's getting the Canon PowerShot SD850 IS. There are many versions and brands of small digital cameras that are of similar quality but I’m fond of this all-purpose point and click with 8 mega pixels and optical zoom. Also, even for the hobby photographer with many lenses to their name, a small digital camera is mandatory. Sometimes, life is too fast and busy to bring along that fancy SLR and this is a better-than-nothing stand-in. Better to grab the shot with an understudy than to miss it.
This camera is available all over the place: Amazon.com, BestBuy, Circuit City, Dell, Staples and all the usual camera stores. Best price I found was at Willoughby’s for $252.00.
2. FLICKR PRO ACCOUNT:
It’s only $24.95 a year and you get a bunch of extras on your account – the most important being unlimited storage and permanent archiving. They'll love you for it.
3. MEMORY CARDS:
They make great stocking stuffers ‘cause they’re eensy and a shutterbug can never have too many. I recommend sneaking a peak at your giftee's camera make and model, writing it down and taking it in to any camera store or even big electronic stores - BestBuy, CircuityCity - or box stores like Target, WalMart and Costco. You can also search online for great deals but I know when I'm buying things I'm unfamiliar with, I need direct human interaction to calm my purchase insecurities. Price range varies widely, depending on how fancy you want to get: $1.75 - $549.00.
4. FUNKY TRIPODS:
You have to love the ambitious product name of the “Monster Pod, Gravity Defying, Viscoelastic Morphing Polymer Super Grip Tripod.” Just saying it aloud makes me feel primed for some photographic adventure involves chasing spies or running from exploding buildings.
This sweet baby bolts to a camera’s bottom and sticks to "almost any surface" thanks to that magical morphing stuff they mentioned in the title. Slap this sucker on a bedroom wall, office door or ragged cliff and let ‘er rip. Ingenious! You can order this on Amazon for about $25.
Also, consider the QuikPod, an extendable handheld tripod that allows users to take a decent self-portrait without a lot of inner arm footage and weird face angles. It’s compact and perfect for the photographer who hates talking to strangers. The QuikPod sells for about $25 - you can order on Amazon or order directly from QuikPod.
5. GIFT CARDS:
Shutterbugs loves gadgets and gear – filters, lens hoods, camera bags – it goes on and on. Sometimes we don’t realize we need something until we see it, and then we MUST have it. Seriously. A gift card from a respected camera store will be mighty appreciated. Here are some ‘kid in a candy store’ places to consider:
6. PHOTO BOOKS:
A photo lover never ever tires of absorbing brilliant images. Seeing how high the bar is raised … well, it gives you something to shoot for. All books can be found on Amazon or directly with through the publisher links below. Consider:
“100 Days in Photographs: Pivotal Events That Changed the World” by Nick Yapp: A moving collection of seminal photographs from the battle of Gettysburg, the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, the Russian Revolution, the fall of the Berlin Wall and other history-making events. (National Geographic Books, $35)
“The Art of the American Snapshot, 1888-1978” by Sarah Greenough and Diane Waggoner: The book follows the evolution of popular photography - from George Eastman’s introduction of the Kodak camera through the rise of the Polaroid’s instant prints. (Princeton University Press, $55)
“David Plowden: Vanishing Point – Fifty Years of Photography”: A tour through the changing face of America through Plowden's series of stark black-and-whites, with a sharp focus on transportation and industry. (W.W. Nortonr, $100).
Arguably, binoculars having very little to do with photography but I’ve found that photographers are the same nosy creatures whether they have a camera or not. Most shutterbugs I know have a robust pair of binoculars as well. I recommend browsing – where else? – Bincoulars.com for an endless selection and competitive pricing.
Personally, I’m partial to the ATN Viper 1 Generation 1 Goggle with Headset for $269.00. It tells people who may or may not be hiding from you, that you are dead serious about finding them. Plus, it makes you look like a cyborg, which is also fun.
8. DIGITAL PHOTO KEYCHAIN:
For those who can’t seem to carry enough photos, give them a photo keychain. It comes with a small (usually about 1.4 inches) LCD screen display. On the Brookstone model, the internal flash memory has an 8 MB storage capacity which stores about 56 photos. Transferring photos is easy once you download the software, just drag and drop. You can get this at Amazon or Brookstone for about $40.
9. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SUBSCRIPTION:
NG is the world’s best publication and offers the most consistently amazing photographs (not to mention the insightful writing) for the scant price of $15 a year. Unbelievable. We all have grandparents and parents who still have back issues from the last century and there’s a reason for that. Anybody with two working eyeballs, a penchant for leaving the safety of our living rooms and the slightest interest in photography, generally considers NG a Bible of sorts. My mother has been giving me NG for Xmas for the past 11 years and it always fits.
Last but certainly not least …
10. ZING CAMERA COVER – A Heartfelt Holiday Testimonial:
The Zing, an ingenious neoprene (wetsuit material) camera cover, is my favorite camera accessory, by far. When I’m out there mucking around in the world, I don’t have the patience to carry a big ‘ol fumbly camera case and yet, I want my baby to be protected. The Zing is like a big colorful padded bra (or condom, if you swing that way) that keeps out dust, heat, moisture and most harmful elements while protecting it from scratches.
For awhile, you couldn’t find them anywhere and more than once, people offered to buy mine. I found that the Zing really helps protect the camera from moisture – a big help when I was living in the Bay Area. It comes in wild colors – my first was purple and now I’ve got a green one – I lurve it.
Caveat: If you’ve got a big lens that is Zing-ed, it will appear frightfully erect. People aren’t shy about letting you know either: “Ha! It looks like a big penis!” Also, each person will think they are the first to notice. Nonetheless, I swear by mine and can’t imagine a Zing-less photo life. It would be comparable to how some women feel without mascara, lipstick or legal counsel – vulnerable and naked. You can get one for about $30 and B&H has a ton of choices.
Enjoy your shopping and happy snapping!