11 Thoughtful Gifts for the Photographer

iStock.com/MarioGuti
iStock.com/MarioGuti

Photography lovers can be hard to shop for, since their equipment is often both very specialized and very expensive. But you don’t have to break the bank to get your favorite photographer something they'll love. Below are 11 gifts we recommend for the photographer in your life. And if they happen to use their gift to take a beautiful photo of you at the holidays, well, who’s to stop them?

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1. Kodak Mini Shot

A Kodak Mini Shot printing a photo of a boy eating ice cream
Kodak, Amazon

While photographers may spend more time on Instagram than picking up prints these days, uploading photos to the cloud doesn’t have quite the appeal of holding a freshly printed photo in hand. Your favorite shutterfly can enjoy the best of both the digital and physical photography world with Kodak’s Mini Shot, a camera that combines all the upsides of a digital camera with the on-demand printing abilities of an instant one. With Bluetooth connectivity and in-camera editing options like filters, stickers, and cropping, users can shoot, edit, and share photos as easily as they would on their phone, but they can also instantly print their favorites—including sending their favorite smartphone photos to the camera for printing.

Find It at Amazon for $120 and at these other retailers:

2. GoPro Fusion

For the adventurous photographer, the GoPro Fusion shoots high-definition, 360° photo and video that users can edit from their phone. It can turn stunning travel shots into virtual reality landscapes, with built-in stabilization to ensure crisp images while hiking, biking, surfing, or doing any other kind of activity. It can even do underwater photography—it’s waterproof to depths of up to 16 feet.

Find It at Amazon for $589 and at these other retailers:

3. GoPro Shorty Mini Extension Pole Tripod

GoPro’s pocket-sized, extendable tripod is designed to make sure your favorite photographer’s images are never constrained by their arm size. The Shorty goes from less than 5 inches long to almost 9 inches to allow the user to shoot those hard-to-reach angles (selfie and otherwise) while on the go.

Find It at Amazon for $35 and at these other retailers:

4. Joby GorrilaPod Flexible Tripod

Unlike the GoPro tripod above, this flexible little number can hold cameras up to 6.6 pounds. And it can be mounted anywhere. The bendy legs with rubberized feet can secure a camera in any position, even on surfaces that aren’t completely flat. For photographers working with smaller cameras, Joby also makes a version designed for smartphones as well.

Find It at Amazon for $39 and at these other retailers:

5. Think Tank Retrospective 7 Shoulder Bag

A khaki-colored, messenger-style camera bag
Think Tank, Amazon

Anyone who’s serious about their photo equipment needs a way to keep it safe on the road. While the perfect camera bag depends on what it’s going to be used for—someone who’s shooting a wedding will want something different than someone shooting landscapes in a national park—every photographer needs some way to carry their gear. Think Tank’s Retrospective 7 Shoulder bag is a fashionable, versatile option. The lightweight, form-fitting bag can fit a DSLR, a small laptop, and several lenses, with pockets and organizers for smaller accessories. For event photographers, it has “sound silencers” to minimize the noise associated with opening and closing the bag. For outdoor photography, there’s a rain cover to protect equipment.

Find It at Amazon for $140 and at these other retailers:

6. Yuneec Breeze 4K

To get those detailed aerial shots, your photographer friend is going to need a drone. You could easily drop several hundred dollars getting them a top-notch flying robot, but Yuneec’s compact camera-copter will do the job for much less—in 4K resolution, even. At less than 9 inches in diameter and weighing less than a pound, it’s small enough to tuck into a bag and can be controlled with a smartphone. It has several automated modes that can help any amateur pilot get cinematic shots with the integrated camera, including a dedicated Selfie Mode to help take flawless group shots from afar.

Find It at Walmart for $149 and at these other retailers:

7. Seagate Backup Plus Slim Hard Drive

A man slips a black Seagate hard drive into a laptop bag.
Seagate, Amazon

For any passionate photographer, hard drive space is precious. Free up some of your loved one’s computer storage by gifting them a new external hard drive. Seagate’s Backup Plus portable drives are fast, simple to use, and affordable. They work with both PCs and Macs and come in numerous colors that make them a bit more exciting than most external drives. The 2 terabyte option provides a nice balance between weight, storage capacity, and price, but if you’ll looking to splurge a bit more, there are 4 terabyte and 5 terabyte versions available, too.

Find It at Amazon for $64 and at these other retailers:

8. Canon DSLR Camera Kit

If your photographer has yet to upgrade from their smartphone, the Canon Rebel is a starter camera. This kit comes with the camera body, a 18-55mm lens, and a 75-300mm zoom lens. In addition to capturing great photos, it shoots 4K-resolution video and features built-in Wi-Fi and smartphone compatibility to make sharing footage between devices easy.

Find It at Amazon for $399 and these other retailers:

9. Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite

Nothing can transform a photo like good lighting. This external flash works with both Nikon and Canon DSLRs and has eight brightness levels that can be controlled manually. It can also be rotated 90 degrees vertically.

Find It at Amazon for $34 and at these other retailers:

10. Giottos Rocket Air Blaster

A cleaning device shaped like a rocket
Giottos, Amazon

No matter what kind of photography your loved one does or what kind of equipment they use, they’ll need to clean their camera. This low-tech tool is great for gently puffing away dust from delicate camera sensors. It’s lightweight but powerful, with a one-way valve that prevents it from sucking any of the dust back into the device. And unlike blowing air from their mouth, this way, the camera sensor won’t end up with any spit on it.

Find It at Amazon for $10.

11. Figosa Leather Strap

Figosa’s Italian-made leather camera straps offer a vintage look at a bargain price. The highly customizable straps come in three different sizes, with black or brown leather and gold or silver metal fasteners. This version comes with a shoulder pad to make it more comfortable to wear with heavier cameras.

Find It at Etsy for $61.

7 Ways to Take Advantage of the Bullet Journal Method

iStock.com/Neustockimages
iStock.com/Neustockimages

If you haven't heard of the bullet journal, it's the productivity method du jour—one that combines the features of a planner, calendar, to-do list, diary, and more. It's not a specific product (although the founder of the method, Ryder Carroll, has created a special notebook for it) as much as a way of creating a journaling system that works for you.

Proponents say the method helps you focus your time and your goals, in part through periodic "migration" sessions that force you to review how you've been spending your days. And yes, it's popular on Instagram—because many bullet journalers have filled their notebooks with colorful flair. (But that part is entirely optional.)

While core components of the bullet journal system like monthly spreads and daily logs are great, many bullet journalers like to add other features that fit their own life. After all, the beauty of the method is the customization and flexibility. We've rounded up a few ideas for new and not-so-new bullet journalers alike to try.

1. Track—and fuel—your creative projects.

Let's say that, like most people, you have a day job. But at night, you're writing the next Great American Novel—or at least some short stories. You might get an idea related to one of those projects on your morning commute or while taking a walk in the park at lunch. There's no time to pull out the manuscript, and if you email yourself the idea it might get lost in a jumble of newsletters and other alerts.

Instead, just start a new page for the project in your journal, note it in your index, and scribble away. You can come back to it later, and fill in other, non-sequential pages in the journal as the mood strikes. Your journal probably isn't the best place to write whole stories, but it's perfect if you just had a mini-breakthrough you want to take down, or even as a way to keep track of potential prompts and inspiration.

2. Improve your habits.

Habit trackers are some of the most popular add-ons to the regular bullet journal time-oriented spreads. You can make yours cute—tracking the number of glasses of water you drink a day by coloring in a big glass, say—or more minimalist, perhaps by listing the habits you want to build (yoga, waking up early) on the left next to a chart of days and coloring in the days you manage to do the habit. You can also create a page just to log you often you do one particular thing—drinking alcohol, for example. Some people even use their bullet journals to track food and digestive symptoms, either by creating a section for a food journal or just noting in their daily log when they eat a certain food and how it makes them feel.

3. Save money.

You can create a custom spread for your monthly budget, track all your expenses, or just track your purchases in a particular category (say, eating out) if there's a particular type of spending you're trying to curb. The design can be as crafty as you like—whether you're coloring in bricks that represent each $50 saved toward a house or just filling in columns noting every time you make a purchase. The key is that, as with health habits, writing something down can serve as a powerful motivator and/or deterrent, since you know you'll have to come face-to-face with yourself at the end of the month.

4. Plan your meals.

Nothing combines health and finance goals quite like planning your meals. You can make your meal plan a section of your weekly spread: Carroll, the bullet journal's creator, likes to set up a list of meals on the left page of his notebook and a shopping list of ingredients on the right. Dividing the items by categories (like meat, produce, and pantry staples) can speed things up at the store, too. It's great to do this at home so you can check the fridge and see what you're missing. Then, when you're done shopping, note how much you spent at the bottom of the list. You can track that to develop insights about your grocery budget.

Over time, you can also create lists to help you with meal planning, perhaps "Favorite Weeknight Dinners," "Easy Work Lunches," etc. Some people also like to create a master grocery list of frequently bought items they can consult whenever they're at the store, just in case they forget to write staples down on their weekly shopping list.

5. Remember the good things.

In our flurry of to-do lists, project deadlines, and meal plans, it can be easy to forget about the things that brighten our days, whether it's an especially funny joke from a colleague or a milestone in a child's development. Create a "memories" page (don't forget to log it in your index!) where you record the great stuff that happens, and pull it out to reflect whenever you're having a gray day. Some bullet journalers like to put pages like this toward the back of their journals to separate them out from the time-oriented spreads. A memories page is also a great opportunity to bust out some thematic artwork.

6. Track your reading lists.

Another great way to encourage better habits is through a reading log. Like a memory log, many people like to put this toward the back of their journal, although ultimately the placement is totally up to you. You can keep track of all the books you read this year, perhaps with notes on what you thought of them—a definite resource when you're drawing up those year-end best-of lists to share with other reading pals!

7. Pair it with an app.

While the bullet journal is touted as "the analog method for the digital age," most of us don't want to go full-on analog. There's now an official companion app that will help you organize and search your old bullet journals, help you learn the method, offer prompts, and serve as a log for when you're away from your journal. It's designed as an addition to the journal, not a replacement, so you still need to put in that time with pen (or pencil, or watercolor brush) and paper.

Bullet journals also pair well with apps like Evernote—for example, you can use Evernote on your smartphone to snap photos of text you scrawl down to save digitally for later use. (Maybe those on-the-fly notes on your novel go into an Evernote notebook that you consult when you have a bit more time, for example.) That's a good option for longer-term projects that might span a couple notebooks.

Many people also use both bullet journals and an online calendar, using the latter for fixed events like birthdays and doctors appointments and the former as more of a way to time-block the day and focus on goals. After all, the beauty of the bullet journal is that unlike digital space, the paper in your notebook is finite—which helps you realize that so is your time and energy. That makes it easier to plan accordingly.

This Ingenious Hanger Makes Hanging Pants a Breeze, No Clips or Folds Required

Hurdle Hanger
Hurdle Hanger

Get ready to clean out your closet. No, we don’t mean going all Marie Kondo on your clothes. There’s a new type of clothes hanger that promises to change the way you store your clothes, taking the headache out of hanging up your pants.

The Hurdle Hanger, which has currently raised more than $33,000 on Kickstarter, calls itself the “one-second pants hanger.” Rather than relying on cumbersome clips or requiring bulky folding techniques, the hanger design employs one very simple change: It hooks into the belt loops of your pants.

The angular hanger is open on one side so that you can slide the bar through the belt loops of your pants, letting you secure your pants in one smooth motion rather than struggling with the pant clips that will just wrinkle your waistband anyway.

A person slides the Hurdle Hanger through the belt loops of a pants to hang them.
Hurdle Hanger

Just slide the hanger bar through the belt loop (or loops) farthest from you, then hang the belt loop closest to you from the hook. There is another hook midway across the bar that secures the middle belt loop, keeping your pants from drooping while they hang. In another subtle touch, you can use the same hook to hang smaller items, like belts or hats, off the side.

The Hurdle Hanger is an example of smart design at its finest—the kind of idea that, when you see it in action, makes you think, “Wait, how did no one think of this before?” It takes a once-cumbersome task and makes it seamless, eliminating at least some of the burden that may be keeping you from accomplishing the chore of hanging up your clothes. No more messing with clips or trying to shove pants through the cramped hole in the hanger to fold them over.

There are already open-end pants hangers that make it easier to slide a folded pair of slacks into your closet, but the belt loop hooks take the Hurdle Hanger to another level. You might even get inspired enough to start hanging your jeans.

A 10-pack of hangers is $20 on Kickstarter—though anything that makes you actively excited to organize your closet is priceless.

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