Holiday Gift Guide

In Life Is Short, News & Stuff, The Life Creative by David23 Comments

You knew I wasn’t going to be the voice telling you to go buy more stuff for the photographers in your life, right?  Right about now every blog out there is starting to release their Holiday Gift Guides and you should probably go there if you are looking for something cool to buy yourself, oops, I mean to buy someone else. This is not that guide.

I have another idea, one I posted on FaceBook the other day and want to elaborate on here.

The photographer in your life doesn’t want another Hoodman Loupe or Lens Cleaning Kit. They can get that themselves. They might want the new Leica, but they don’t need it. Want to really change their lives and give them something they can’t get themselves?

Give them the gift of your patronage. Buy their prints. Commission a portrait. Book a session with them. Buy their books. And I don’t mean people like me. I mean the highschool kid who lives next door. Or your brother. The guy in your camera club. Find a photographer who makes work you love and spend the money on their art. Then find a place to put it in your home. Tell them you love their work, and show up for them by taking it home. Because everyone tells them they love their work, but fewer people put their money where their mouths are.

If you’re already doing that, then give them one of yours. Print it. Sign it. Frame it. And put a bow on it.

Donate a print to the local hospice in the name of that friend. Or buy one of their prints and donate that to the hospice in their name.

Buy them a book of photographs by one of the photographers you most love. Or buy two copies of a book of photographs that neither of you has seen- one for you, one for them – and talk about the images over the coming months.

Email one of your friend’s photographic heroes, ask them to look at your friend’s work and send your friend a letter or email giving them honest encouragement and critique. This will be harder, but it’ll blow your friend’s mind.

Pay for a weekend away together – camping and shooting landscapes, in NYC walking the streets with cameras. Go to some art galleries and talk about art. Go to a bookstore and look at photography books (not the how-tos, but the books of actual photographs). Shoot together. Teach each other a thing or two in Lightroom. Then plan the next adventure.

Be creative. What most photographers lack is the confidence to believe their work matters. They lack time with their friends. They can buy the gadgets themselves. They probably already did. But the stuff I’m talking about – I guarantee you no one else is getting it for them, they can’t get it themselves, and it’ll touch them deeply.

This applies to everyone in your life. Show up for them. Give them your presence instead of your presents. Unless it’s a 6-year old, then you better show up with loot, man.

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  2. Santa filled my stocking with eight ink tanks for my Canon printer.

    Thank you, Mr. Claus, for supporting my work. I can now resume giving my prints as gifts to the people that mean the most to me and place a few in my own portfolio binders for my posterity to enjoy.

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  4. I just want to add that, I think, just my own opinion, that photography “industry” is a victim of the contemporary shopping/commercial culture, which now days is well diverted from the ART’s. I mean for most people is fine spending money on anything else but photography – any way this is very complex, global, economical issue that mainly art is been affected.

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  6. i am tired of reading holiday gift guides and seeing posts about ‘avoiding the crazy’ at this time of year.
    it’s really simple (for us anyway) and one you mention – give presence instead of presents.
    for us, the best gift we can give each other is a total disconnect for a few days – spending time outdoors instead of spending money on presents
    happy holidays friend

  7. Awesome post. I will forward to my wife! And thanks for all your great feeds this year. But most of all, thanks for liking one of my shots on instagram. Made my year, photographically speaking!

  8. I’m so delighted you wrote this post! I love the synchronicity when someone posts what I’m thinking. Thanks, too, for your generous spirit.

  9. well said David – We just finished our 5th annual Christmas dinner party that we put on for the Maple Pool community in the Comox Valley and its truly profound how its more blessed to give than receive. I am feeling slightly unsettled as I was going to offer free portraits to any who wanted them but somehow I didn’t cross the chicken line – I am a believer in second chances though. Thanks for your gift of writing, thinking and prodding throughout the year – merry christmas

  10. Great advice Dave.
    Although many of us may be the ones who hope to receive the results of this message. It however, does have a much more universal ring to it. I am, right now, thinking which of my many thousands of images would be right to brighten the lives of each of my twenty family members.
    Although, in a world a wash in images, it may be hard to make an impact.
    Dick K, 84, and still clicking,

  11. Hi David, this is really touching reading, well done for spreading the idea for the sort of different gift, not only for the photographer but also for people who are thinking of how to be different and original when they want to give to their loved once. Few years ago I never thought in such flexible way , when it comes down to buying a present, until one day I was hired for one to one workshop – it was for a lady,from her husband, for her birthday. After this event I started thinking completely differently over the whole concepts of photography and gifts.

  12. A fine bit of karma David, eloquently done. I’ve donated prints and a workshop to three charities and it feels good to have made a contribution. Really like the way you hold such importance on experiences and interactions that have far greater longevity than so many things we can buy for people.

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