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Trust us, photographer’s have seen it all . . .the lens mugs, the shirts that say “I shoot people”, the novelty camera straps, and the millions of funny slogans printed on wine glasses.

If your gift buying list has a photographer on it you’re probably wondering, what to buy that hasn’t already been done.  From the totally practical to the completely random, this is the definitive list of the 50 best gifts for photographers (under $50) and none of them are the lens mug.

When you’re looking for the best gifts for photographers you probably run across the same things over and over again.  We decided to make a list of the best gifts for photographers under $50 from an actual full-time photography studio – things we want to receive and will actually use.  We went through our Amazon invoices, pulled together our lists of favorites, and created this mega compilation of the practical and the whimsical best gifts for photographers just for you.

Whether the photographer on your list is a professional photographer who seems to have it all, a hobbyist looking to spark creativity, or an adventurous traveler who needs gear on the go, this list of best gifts for photographers should spark some ideas and save you from buying another lens mug.

Private Photography Lessons:
In-Person or Online

Before we show you the list of our 50 best gifts for photographers, we have to throw in a little shameless plug.  If the photographer in your life has a big fancy camera and no clue how to use it, the best gift is a 2 hour private photography lesson with us!  Our photography lessons are two hours long and can be done in person at our studio in Downtown Cary, NC  or over Skype anywhere in the world.

No two lessons are alike as we customize our coaching just for you.  If your camera settings are a mystery, you’ve got buttons you don’t understand, and/or everything looks like a snapshot you could take with your phone, let us help you.  Photography lessons are just $250 for a 2-hour lesson.  A 2-hour lesson is all most people need to get a jumpstart.  You can purchase your photography lesson gift card by sending us an email or giving us a call (919-297-8567).

Are you a professional photographer looking for mentoring?  You’ll want to check out our mentoring information and private photography group for professional photographers.

Best Gifts for Photographers Under $50 – The Practical

Muscle Roller Stick and TheraFlow Foot Massager Roller
  1. Photography is physical whether its an 8 hour wedding or 30 minutes of chasing a toddler with 10 pounds of camera gear.  Tight muscles, sore shoulders, and aching feet keep us from doing our best.  We love the Muscle Roller Stick ($9.99) for legs and shoulders, and the TheraFlow Foot Massager Roller ($9.97) are heaven.
    Underwater Camera Case for SLR
  2. The best angle is sometimes in the middle of a lake or even under water, if you’re looking for the best gifts for photographers that like to travel or get messy, we love a waterproof case. to keep our gear protected.  You could spend thousands on an underwater case, but we love the DiCaPac brand for SLR ($49.95).  We had to use our underwater case to get at the water’s edge for this photograph of Helen during her senior portraits.  We think a water proof housing will keep your camera dry and make it one of the best gifts for photographers.
    Converters and Adaptors for Photography Equipment
  3. This little package of converters and adaptors is one of the best gifts for photographers and has saved our butts on many occasions.  It might not look exciting, but this 27 piece kit of adaptors in different sizes will let your connect pieces of photography equipment together and when you need it, you really need it.
    First Aid Kit
  4. Photography takes us to some exciting places but with adventure, comes the unexpected.  We won’t go on a session without a first aid kit ($19.99) in the car.  This one seems to have a good mix of everything we need but we always add extra ice packs, hand warmers, and bandaids.
    The Perfect Pair of Winter Gloves
  5. The perfect pair of winter gloves ($15.98) seems like an easy find, but after trying out dozens of pairs of gloves and mittens, these are the ones we can’t live without.  These gloves fit tight to make changing camera settings easy and the touch-screen finger means we can still use our phones.  Bonus feature, they don’t make your hands sweat!  We know this is the best gifts for photographers who are in cold weather.
    Under Desk Foot Rest and Balance Board
  6. Long hours editing sessions means you need maximum desk comfort.  We love this StrongTek Foot Rest ($32.99) for under our desks that also doubles as a balance board if you prefer standing.  We feel more focused when we can move a little bit but stay at the desk.
    Mini Hanging Neck Fan
  7.  The North Carolina heat can be pretty unbearable during those summer time senior portrait sessions.  We might have teased our videographer, Justin about this purchase but we were all secretly jealous.  Yes, this odd little creation is a Mini Hanging Neck Fan ($13.99) that is rechargeable, light, and positionable for maximum cross breeze.
    The RALENO LED Video Light
  8. The RALENO LED Video Light ($34.99)  is a panel light which is adjustable and includes a hotshoe mount for your camera.  This soft light is perfect for on camera interviews and adding light behind a subject to create depth.  The USB charger means we can easily charge it and the light lasts a LONG time, 90 minutes at full power is impressive.  We used a few of these LED video lights to create the background lights on the walls/floors behind Reynu during her ballerina portraits at Starbucks.
    Bluetooth Speaker with Silicone Lanyard
  9. A bluetooth speaker with the right music can make any session go better.  We use music to loosen people up and boost the energy of a session.  This bluetooth speaker has good bass for the size, holds a charger for 12 hours, and comes with a comfortable and durable silicone lanyard that lets us hang it from our camera bag.  It’s also water proof and can take a LOT of banging around.  When we are dancing around for a session we know that the bluetooth speaker is one of the best gifts for photographers.
    Ring Light with Camera Attachment
  10. Ring lights ($50.99) make the most gorgeous beauty lighting and are favorites of YouTubers, Bloggers, and professional photographers alike for the flattering spread of light and the fun circle catchlights they create in your eyes.  You can easily be overwhelmed with options but we like this light because it is a good size, has a tripod adaptor, and a long cord.  For additional money you could get one that is larger or dimmable.   Quick tip!  Your light source should be approximately the size of what you’re photographing so this one is good for face-size or smaller.  My Friend Teresa Studios Editor, Erica, posed with two ring lights for our trippy team headshots.
    Hydro Flask
  11. Before the VSCO girls decided they were cool, we fell in love with a little water bottle called the Hydro Flask ($42.95).  The 40 oz, wide mouth with the flex cap is our favorite since we can clip it to the outside of our camera bag.  It can seem like a crazy price for a water bottle, but we have saved a ton in not buying bottled water and we love the way our drink still has ice after 8 hours in the sun.
    Black Gaffers Tape Multipack
  12. Black Gaffers Tape ($21.89) is the secret behind every good film and photography production.  Its practical, its sticky, it gets the job done and it comes in a three pack, what’s not to love.
    Heavy Duty Small Muslin Clamps
  13. Heavy Duty Muslin Clamps ($7.99) are a must have for every camera bag, but you never seem to have enough.  This package of six mini clamps works great for securing backdrops but also clothes, lights, and cords.  I’m always amazed at the many, many ways these little clamps get used.  The precision grip and wide mouth of these make it a must have.
    Mesh Zipper Bags
  14. With all these little pieces and parts staying organized is tricky.  We love these Mesh Zipper Bags ($10.99) that come in a variety of sizes and colors (there are 16 in the pack!).  We use them to keep our batteries, cards, triggers, ties, and adaptors all separate.  Really any kind of organization is the best gift for photographers.

    LED Light Cubes – Dimmable
  15. LED Light Cubes (29.95) add a dimmable, LED kiss of light to create depth to any photograph or video.  We use these pocket-sized lights to quickly add light to our photography and video sessions.  We love this brand because it has a cold-shoe mount (which means it can attach to the top of your camera), are easy to charge, and come with 20 different gels to create colors.  These lights also work with drones, GoPro, and the Pocket Osmo Action Camera.  LED Light cubes provided the pops of light you see in the bottom right (x2) and left (x1) of this senior portrait of Reynu in an abandoned bank vault.
    Portable Pop Up Privacy Tent
  16.  The WolfWise Portable Pop Up Privacy Tent ($49.99)  solves one of the hardest problems for photographers on sessions . . . where the client’s can change clothes!  Pop this up (literally) and your clients can change clothes easily and with room to spare.  This tent folds down and packs away in to an easily carried case.
    Phone Camera Lens Kit
  17. Phone Camera Lens Kit ($27) – The lens that comes with your camera is fixed and can’t zoom in and out except digitally.  This lens kit with carrying case allows you to enhance and zoom to various focal lengths including a wide angle lens for larger scenes, and a telephoto for distant pictures.  Nature lovers will enjoy the macro lens which gets close up details.  This version has a universal clip that makes it work for all types of phone cameras but you can also buy one with your particular type of phone in mind.  No matter what kind of photography you enjoy, this lens kit is a fun and portable best gift for photographers.
    Folding Step Stool
  18. A Folding Step Stool ($11.49) like this Lightweight one in black helps with posing groups, standing on to get a better angle, or keeping bottoms off the wet ground.  We are super tall, but our shorter photographers have been known to keep one strapped to their back on sessions.
    How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  19. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is required reading for any business person, but especially for photographer’s who need networking and rapport building skills to be successful.  It’s a classic for a reason.
    Comfy Large Kneeling Pads
  20. Kneeling for hours on our concrete studio floor is murder on the knees but these Comfy Large Kneeling Pads ($23.97) are also really useful on an outdoor session to add height (they fold over) or keep butts off wet grass.
    The Photographer’s Guide to Posing:  Techniques to Flatter Everyone
  21. The Photographer’s Guide to Posing: Techniques to Flatter Everyone by Lindsay Adler ($26.49) is on my desk at all times.  It is the only book I regularly refer to for posing tips and advice.  The illustrations and practice examples of good vs. bad posing are especially impactful and easy to follow.
    Light Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
  22. Light Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting by Paul Fuqua ($50) is the definitive guide to all forms of lighting for photography.  If there was a ‘textbook’ and a college class about photography, this would be required reading.
    The ExpoDisc
  23. The ExpoDisc ($49.95) is a professional white balance filter that makes sure your white balance is set quickly while on location.  It cuts down on time spent photoshopping because the color is perfect in camera.
    Umbrella Hat
  24. Yeah this one as as silly as it sounds but they’ll be laughing until they need it.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Umbrella Hat.  What it lacks in coolness is made up for in functionality.  This hands-free umbrella lets you keep photographing either when the elements don’t agree.
    Atmosphere Aerosol
  25. Make smoke, haze, and fog at any time of day in any place with Atmosphere Aerosol ($17.29).  I would never imagine spending money for a ‘can of smoke’ but now there is always a can in our bag.  You can buy in bulk and get a better deal and be aware, shipping takes a while because it has to travel ground freight.  Margaret is lit from behind during her senior portraits with Atmosphere Aerosol used to create the smoke/fog effect.
    Vivitar Professional LED Video Light Wand
  26. The Westcott Ice Light was a game changer but at $500 most photographer’s were left looking for a different option.  The Vivitar Professional LED Video Light Wand ($29.99) is just as excellent, and gives you powerful, portable  light anywhere you need it.  Also, it kind of looks like a lightsaber.  Any kind of lighting will be one of the best gifts for photographers but we find this light one of the most useful pieces of lighting equipment.
    Anti-Slip Silicone Pads for Glasses
  27. Keep your glasses from sliding off your face as you photograph a session with this simple, and genius solution.  These silicone adhesive pads for glasses will keep your glasses on your face when that creative-sweat hits you mid-session.

    DSLR Camera Cleaning Kit with Light
  28. We put our camera’s through some pretty rigorous and dirty activities.  Just like any precision instrument, the camera and lens need to be cared for properly.  This DSLR Camera Cleaning Kit ($49.95) comes with everything you need to safely clean your gear.  The LED sensor loupe is especially helpful.  We needed a deep cleaning of our camera gear after Will’s senior portrait session with colored powder.
    Professional Camera Lens Calibration Tool
  29. If your SLR camera isn’t quite hitting perfect focus, the JJC Professional Camera Calibration Tool is one strange looking equipment which can help you re-calibrate your lenses.  We re-calibrate our equipment every three months using this.
    Sunflower or Wildflower Seeds
  30.  Around our town everyone goes crazy for the sunflower fields and photographers from hobbyist to pro fill the few fields in the area trying to get the perfect photograph.  Why not buy your own package of sunflower seeds for planting (or other wildflowers for your climate) and plant your own?

Best Gifts for Photographers Under $50 – The Whimsical

Photography Prisms and Case
  1. Fractal Photography is a fun way to get creative with lighting and create exciting effects.  We use prisms of different sizes and colors to create lighting dynamics you can’t get any other way.  We love this photography prism ($27.95) that is durable, scratch resistant, and easy to position and it comes with three different sizes.  It even comes in a cool case.
    This Amazing Camera Bag
  2. This camera bag doesn’t look like a camera bag ($35.99) and that makes it both more fashionable and more secure.  Ditch the manufacturers bag that advertises the expensive contents of your camera bag and go with this perfectly sized canvas shoulder bag.  This is the bag I use everyday for my cell phone, keys and wallet and I love that I can drop an SLR in there and know it is protected.  The extra wide camera strap keeps it comfortable and the liner can be removed.
    Branded Stationary or Thank You Notes
  3.  Branded Stationary or Thank You Notes are a sentimental gift that can celebrate a photographer’s new business or rebranding.  We love working with MOO because of the trendy options, easy of creating excellent graphic designs, and printing options that let you change the picture on every piece.  When you’re a new business owner seeing your logo on stationary is a big moment and definitely one of the best gifts for photographers who are just starting a business.
    Battery Operated Fairy Lights
  4. A few strings of Battery Operated Fairy Lights ($14.99) will give the photographer in your life the chance to try something creative and fun.  We love using them stretched from camera to the subject’s hands to give cool dimension.
    Paper Mate Flair Felt Tip Pens
  5. Okay so this has absolutely nothing to do with photography but everything to do with creativity.  When I need time to stare off in space and think I use these fabulous, beloved, Paper Mate Flair Felt Tip Pens ($11.94) to sketch and color.  I hide them from everyone else in the house.
    The Storyboard Notebook – Black and Gold Theme
  6. The Storyboard Notebook – Black and Gold Theme ($11.60) is the best little notebook you never knew you needed.  Photographers and videographers can sketch out shoot ideas in pre-created 6-panel sheets that leaves plenty of room for notes.  Whether you’re in to photography or videography this is one of the best gifts for planning your work.
    Fisher Price Changeable Picture Disk Camera
  7. Whether its a cute desktop accessory or a perfect way to get kids into their photography session, the classic Fisher Price Changeable Picture Disk Camera ($20.46) is just fun to have around.
    Vintage Camera Print Loop Infinity Scarf
  8. The Lina and Lily Vintage Camera Print Loop Infinity Scarf ($18.09) was a gift from our amazing canvas company but I found it online for you.  I wear this lightweight scarf way, way too much and love that it is super soft and easily loops twice.  I have the light gray one but there are options.  Personally, this is my favorite photography gift I’ve ever received and definitely gets my vote is the number one best gift for photographers.

    Photography Idea Cards
  9. Photography Idea Cards ($27.95)  include 72 different cards each with a different photography theme or challenge.  We’ve used these when teaching photography classes but they’d also be great for sparking your own creative assignment.
    Magnetic Poetry – The Photographer Kit
  10. I’ve never met a magnetic poetry set that I didn’t like but this Magnetic Poetry – The Photographer Kit $12.95 is perfectly themed for the camera nerd in your house.  This is also a fun gift for younger photographers who are learning new keywords and concepts.
    Colorful Camera Socks
  11. Colorful Camera Socks ($10.98) can make any day brighter for the fun and funky photographer in your life.  There are many to choose from but these colorful camera socks are my favorite.
    LED Photo Clip String Lights for Decoration
  12. If you’re an amateur or hobbyist photographer with lots of images to display you’ll love the LED Photo Clip String Lights from AOStar ($9.99).  We have a few sets of these at the studio that we’ve used to decorate.
    The Annie Leibovitz Postcard Box
  13. The Annie Leibovitz Postcard Box ($14.95) is an affordable way to enjoy some of her most inspiring celebrity works.  This box has twenty five different post cards, and I’ll never mail them out but I love flipping through them.
    Quick Photography Reference Cards
  14.  If you need a camera cheat sheet – these double-sided photography reference cards ($22.50) are generic enough to apply for all cameras and all photographer levels, but still cover the essentials of photography.  Use these as a quick reference for white balance, f-stop, or choosing the right semi automatic settings.
    Edison Bulb Vintage Camera Desk Lamp
  15. If you’re feeling very modern and chic and you want to upgrade your table lamp game, then you have to see this Edison Bulb Vintage Camera Desk Lamp ($39.95).  I feel cooler just looking at it.
    Camera Mode Dial Cufflinks
  16. Since we’re being classy, the photography-dude in your life might need these Camera Mode Dial Cufflinks ($44.00).   Keep them in Manual mode, so we know you’re legit.
    Vintage Camera Print Retro Floral Fanny Pack
  17. When you’re on location and you need a quick grab and go bag for your extra batteries and cards, you might as well rep that 90s style.  This Vintage Camera, Retro Floral Camera Fanny Pack ($27.30) in teal in yellow is everything.
    Retro Camera Print Business Card Holder – Handmade
  18. When the photographer in your life is out being phenomenal and someone asks for a business card, you’ll have hooked them up.  This Retro Camera Business Card Holder ($14.76) is unique and handmade.
    Camera Ring Jewelry – Handmade in North Carolina
  19.  A Camera Ring Jewelry – Simple, made in North Carolina, and perfect for guys or girls.  This aluminum or sterling silver ring band can be personalized and really stands out.
    Gazillion Bubbles and Bubble Wand Kit and Dish
  20. Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles.  There isn’t a single kid session that can’t be made better with bubbles.  Our videographer, Justin is a bubble connoisseur.  He recommends Gazillion Bubbles ($9.99) and this amazing Bubble Wand Kit and Dish. ($13.59) .  Despite the cold weather at her session, this little one enjoyed the bubbles.


We hope you enjoyed our list of the best gifts for photographers under $50.  Is there something we missed?  Let us know, we’ll look forward to adding to this post.  If you’d like to learn more about our professional photography and video studio in Downtown Cary, NC please reach out.  If you’re interested in a private photography lesson or professional photographer mentoring we’d love to hear from you.