It can be tough to shop for the photographer in your life. Many times the vast selection of stuff available can be overwhelming and the prices can be shocking. So I have put together a list of a few things that I love. These are all things that I use personally and can recommend without reservation.
Photoshop / Photography Training
Photoshop World Conference. Twice a year the folks who run Kelby Training and NAPP put on the Photoshop World Conference & Expo. What is amazing about this conference is the sheer number of world-renowned instructors in both Photoshop and photography. Instructors like Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, Moose Peterson, Ben Willmore and Bert Monroy just to name a few. So not only are there three days of training, you also get a membership to NAPP if you don’t already have one.
NAPP Membership. NAPP is the National Association of Photoshop Professionals and is the biggest Photoshop users group in the world. The cost to join is $99 for a year membership. For that you get a years subscription to the Photoshop User magazine (that’s 10 issues) and access to the members website along with a ton of discounts. If you are a member already then you save $99 on the price of the Photoshop World Conference.
Kelby Training. Kelby Training is an online training site with a TON of content. The best part is that you can get either a monthly or yearly subscription. Both allow you to watch as many classes as you want, and if you have an iPad, you can watch the training on it as well. There is also a new feature at Kelby Training, and that is the ability to rent certain classes for a 3 day period. For example, Scotts new “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it for Hot Shoe flash on-a-budget” is one of the first classes available for rent, for $6.99 (that’s the intro price, the regular price will be $9.99). They are rolling this new feature out in stages, so only 12 or so classes are available for rent at this time, but more will be coming.
Check the video out for what it is like at Photoshop World
Nik Software. I use plug-ins when I edit in Photoshop and Lightroom. My absolute favorite is the Silver Efex Pro 2 from Nik Software. It is the software that I do 99% of all my black and white conversions with. I love it. I use it all the time and if I had to pick just one plug-in for my work, this would be it. Now, I do use the complete set of Nik Software for my editing and really can’t say enough good things about them. Check out the complete suite here. It comes in two flavors, one for Aperture and Lightroom and the other for Photoshop, Aperture and Lightroom.
onOne Software. The other set of plug-in tools that I use on a regular basis are the those from onOne software. They have just updated the entire range of products and the best bet for the photographer in your life is Perfect Photo Suite 7 which has them all in a nice package. The suite consists of the following programs; Perfect Black & White, Perfect Portrait 2, Perfect Layers 3, Perfect Effects 4, Perfect Mask 5.2, Perfect Resize 7.5 Pro, and Focal Point 2. You can check out all the onOne products here.
The Nik Software Silver Efex Pro 2 interface
Wacom. I don’t use a mouse anymore. All I use are my Wacom Intuos tablets. I use the medium Intuos 5 Touch tablet for my desk and an older Intuos 4 small tablet for travel. It just fits in my bag better. The thing with using the tablets is that there is a learning curve. It takes a bit of time to get used to using a pen on tablet instead of the mouse, but when you do, there is no going back. For more on the Intuos tablet, click here.
Rouge FlashBenders. These are great light modifiers for small flash. They take up very little space in a bag and can really create some very nice light. One of the nice touches is that they don’t need extra straps or pieces. Each of the flash benders attaches to the flash with built-in velcro strap. You can check out the flash benders here.
ThinkTankPhoto. I love camera bags. I have enough to pack up my whole house if needed. My new favorite is the ThinkTankPhoto ShapeShifter backpack. It can hold 2 full size DSLR bodies, and three lenses along with a laptop and a bunch of other stuff. I also use the Pixel Pocket Rocket to hold my memory cards.
Hoodman. As photographers in the digital age, there is nothing as important as the memory cards we use in our cameras. If the memory card fails for any reason, the images can be lost. That is why I use the Hoodman RAW cards. They are the only cards that have never failed on me, not even once. (I also use the new Sony XQD cards in my Nikon D4 and they haven’t failed. ) I use the new Hoodman Steel 1000x CompactFlash cards in my Nikon D700 and Nikon D4 and I use the Hoodman Steel SD cards in my Nikon D3200. I love these cards and I trust my once-in-a-lifetime photos to them.
Artistic Photo Canvas. There is something very cool about seeing your work printed, especially on canvas. I have all my canvasses printed by Artistic Photo Canvas because they do the best job. I really like the larger sizes and have a couple of 20″ x 30″ gallery wrapped prints hanging on my office wall.
All Access. One of the highlights of 2012 for was the publication of my book dealing with concert photography. The book is called All Access: Your Backstage Pass to Concert Photography and is available wherever books are sold. The book covers everything from requesting photo passes to how to behave backstage. I am really happy with this book and believe that anyone who want to learn about photographing concerts will enjoy it. You can buy the book on Amazon right here.
Nikon D3200 Digital Field Guide. If you have a photographer on you list who owns the Nikon D3200 or is planning on getting it, then I recommend my Nikon D3200 Digital Field Guide. It is available everywhere books are sold. Here is the Amazon link.
Night and Low Light Photography Photo Workshop. This has been my best-selling book since I wrote it and I can recommend it for any photographer who wants to take more photos in low light situations. You can buy it from Amazon right here.
So here are a few of the things that you can get for the photographer on your list this year. And when in doubt, a gift certificate to Adorama or your local camera store is always appreciated.