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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