For some, photography is more of an obsession than a hobby and everything seems to revolve around taking that perfect shot. You may have already noticed from past experience that this kind of person who only seems to have one interest is *very* difficult to shop for! You want to give a gift that shows how you feel about your favorite shutterbug, but aren't sure what he or she already owns. You might want to get a gift that reflects this popular hobby. The only problem is not being sure what is needed. You don't want to buy two hundred dollars' worth of film and find out he or she has a whole storeroom filled with film in the basement. It pays to research.
(1) Camera equipment. This may not seem to be the "perfect gift," but it's always appreciated. Snoop around a bit and find out exactly what is needed; maybe a camera bag or cleaning instruments would be appreciated, or maybe the person can't afford all the extra film they need. Find out what kinds of equipment could be used with that particular camera, even if it wasn't mentioned. If someone else is buying photography-oriented gifts for this person, talk to them and make sure you don't double up. As one suggestion, filters for 35mm cameras are a great idea.
(2) Personalization. There are many companies these days that will personalize a mug, mouse pad, and many other items with a photo. You can use one of your photographer's favorite shots to do this and present them with a masterpiece; a picture that came from their own camera. You can also personalize pillows, afghans, canvas bags, calendars; the list is endless. You could also print out a high-quality copy of one of his or her favorite personal photos and buy a beautiful picture frame. Talk to other friends of the recipient of the gift and find out if anything like this has already been done for the person. Making color photos black and white can look very classy for certain item personalization.
(3) Make a darkroom. This is a more difficult idea but would pay off if you can manage it. Find out if the person in question is planning to put a darkroom in their house; send them away for the day and bring the appropriate equipment, room darkening fabrics, and other important items. If you don't want to buy all these things yourself, see if someone else will chip in. Read up on what a darkroom needs and doesn't need, and make sure the room will not a magnet to pets or small children. When your photography lover returns, surprise him with his very own darkroom that he didn't have to use his own blood and sweat to create! This is only a gift idea for someone you know very well, who won't mind lending you the house for a day and won't suspect what you are planning!
(4) Buy a camera. Cameras range from inexpensive to very, very expensive depending on what you want. If his or her camera is old or dysfunctional, consider a new one as a surprise. Again, if you decide not to cover the whole cost yourself, see if someone will help and have it be a gift from both of you. You will have to be very sure what kind of camera is desired; you don't want your friend or loved one rushing to the store for an exchange as soon as the paper is torn open. It would be very helpful to get a hint of what kind of camera would be appreciated.
(5) Take the person along to shop for his or her own gifts. This is always a winner because you don't have to worry that the gift won't be appreciated. A gift certificate to a store that carries photography items is another hugely popular idea. With a gift certificate, the person can choose what is needed without outside intervention. Find out if there are any stores in your area that carry camera items and if the person goes to this store often. See if they have gift certificates and for what amount. It's a thoughtful gift that's very easy to choose and you don't have to traipse around without having any idea what you're looking for!
By Lacie R. Schaeffer