The Best Gifts for Photography Lovers

Susan Portnoy photographing in Peru on a boat

The Best Gifts for Photography Lovers

Items they’ll actually use and love!

There’s a lot of gimmicky stuff out there for photography lovers. This gift guide doesn’t showcase any of them. I use and stand behind every product below. For example, lens cleaner may not seem like the sexiest present, trust me, when a lens is dirty in the field with an awesome photo waiting to be made, some cleaner and a microfiber cloth are VERY sexy.

Below are some of my favorite products and services.

(This post contains affiliate links. If you buy products using the links below, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no cost to you.)

The Best Gifts for Photography Lovers

(On another note: Here’s a list of Great Gifts for Travel Lovers )

Worthwhile Splurges


Peak Design: Carbon Fiber Tripod

If you or your giftee is a dedicated photographer, a good tripod is absolutely worth the investment. For travelers, a light, compact carbon fiber tripod is the best. The Peak Design tripod is amazing. It’s very compact, It sets up within seconds and the universal head makes mounting effortless. It also supports a 200-400mm which is 8lbs in addition to my Canon 5D Mark IV body. There’s also a handy dandy universal phone mount for smartphones!

Full disclosure, Peak Design sent me my tripod. However, if it were stolen or lost tomorrow, I would buy another one without hesitation.

The only con: to attach the camera plate to your camera requires an Allen key which has its own little holder on the tripod. However, it fell out when I was transporting it a few times. I now have it connected by a carabiner that I’ve attached to the carrying case.

susan portnoy the insatiable traveler - the Gura Gear Kiboko 22L Camera Bag

Gura Gear’s New Kiboko Camera Bag 22L  

Years ago I bought the original Kiboko 22L camera bag and still use it to this day. But soon after I fell in love with the brand it was phased out when the owner acquired Tamrac. Photographers like myself bitched and moaned and I am happy to say Gura Gear is back with a new and improved Kiboko 2.0—now in three sizes: 16L, 22L, 30L.

It’s not cheap, I know. Consider it a splurge for that special person in your life (maybe yourself?) who is a real photography enthusiast. Its design features butterfly wings—two side-by-side compartments—which make it easier to organize your gear. It has plenty of room, it’s lightweight and very durable. Each side has a buckle and pocket to secure a tripod and/or a water bottle. There’s also a rain cover and a handy-dandy zippered side compartment for a 15″ laptop, plus interior and exterior zippered pockets to carry memory cards, batteries, lens cleaners, and the like. (More information on my favorite gear page)

Gura Gear new Kiboko Dslr backpack line
From Left to right. 16L, 22L, 30L

Accessories and Gadgets

Mag Mod Flash Starter Kit

MagMod Starter Flash Kit 

Ninety-five percent of the time I like to rely on ambient light for my images but sometimes, like when it’s high noon and shadows are making a portrait difficult, a flash is just what you need. The MagMod’s supple rubber dome attaches magnetically to your Speedlight and provides a more diffused and flattering light. The magnet makes it easy to remove quickly and the rubber is easy to scrunch up in your pocket if needed.

BlackRapid Breathe Curve Camera Strap

BlackRapid Breathe Sport Camera Strap

I love love love this strap. My first strap I bought five years ago and it rocked. What makes it so great is the padded (and breathable) shoulder strap stays put, and the camera slides along the attachment strap for ease of use. When I’m not holding it, it hangs conveniently at my side.

BlackRapid Breathe Hybrid Camera Strap

BlackRapid Breathe Double Camera Harness

For those times when two cameras are necessary, this Black Rapid strap really works well. It’s very balanced.

Samsung T5 Portable SSD

Samsung T5 Portable SSD – 2TB – USB 3.1

Technology is amazing. A 2 TB external hard drive a little bigger than a credit card. Thin too. It’s amazingly compact and thin. If you take a lot of pictures, a small external hard drive is a wise expense. I use my drive on the road to edit photos and back up my memory cards if they are lost or damaged. When storage is minimal you can’t get better. That said, it’s also a bit pricey, so if it’s not what you want right now, my other go-to hard drive is below and much more economical.

Color Munki

X-Rite ColorMunki Display

Over time, the color on computer monitors tends to change. Colormunki recalibrates the monitor enabling more accurate post-production.

Heavy Duty Foam Padding Kneepads

Heavy Duty Foam Padding Kneepads

Another recommendation from a fellow photographer. I’d wish I’d thought of this myself. When shooting from low angles these babies are great when you’re spending significant time on hard surfaces.

Movo RC1 Clear Rain Cover for DSLR Camera

I often use a plastic garbage bag and a couple of rubber bands when it rains, but there are times when having something less awkward really comes in handy.

BlueJan Luggage Cart

When I’m traveling with my big bag (See Gura Gear above) it can get really heavy and if I don’t need to lug it on my shoulders, why do it? I bought this super affordable trolley and use it for airports when standing in lines can be torture. It’s also great for those times when a duffle without wheels is required.

AmazonBasics Water Resistant Neoprene Camera Lens Accessories Protective Case – Set of 4, Black

Every now and then I want a little extra protection for my lenses and these economical neoprene cases work great.

Tiffen 82mm UV Protection Filter

Tiffen 82mm UV Protection Filter

Whenever you buy a new lens, always get the appropriately sized UV Protection filter too––this fits my Canon 24-70mm f/2.8. The UV helps to mitigate the blue tint that comes with daylight but most important, it’ll protect your lens. A UV filter has saved my lens from being damaged countless times while in the field. Seriously.

Adobe Lightroom | 12-month Subscription with auto-renewal, PC/Mac

I use Lightroom for my post-processing. I love it because it’s not only great for editing but it organizes all my files as well. There’s a bit of a learning curve but there are so many How-to videos out there it’s easy to get up to speed. I don’t use Photoshop, but it comes bundled with Lightroom so you get two for one.

Gift certificate for Lightroom Tutorial by Susan Portnoy

One-on-one Lightroom Classic Tutorials Gift Certificate

Properly processing an image is almost as important as the capture, especially if you’re shooting in RAW, which requires editing. If you or someone you know wants to get more out of their images without making them look “over-edited” or “baked,” try a one-on-one Lightroom Classic session with me. Gift Certificates available.

(I record sessions so clients can have them to refer to on their own.)


Borrowlenses Gift Certificate

Renting is a phenomenal way to add to a kit for a short period of time. For example, if a photographer is going on safari and they want to use a super-telephoto lens or bring along a second body. I also recommend renting something before purchasing to make sure it’s exactly what you want.

Professional Camera Cleaning Kit for DSLR Cameras

An important addition to any photographer’s kit. Plus, a perfect stocking stuffer.


This two-sided pen is great for cleaning smudges and removing dust on lenses. It’s pocket-friendly design is easy to carry. It also works in a pinch for smartphone screens.

Extreme Pro 32 mg Memory card

SanDisk Extreme PRO 32GB CompactFlash Memory Card

For those with DSLRs you can’t be without good and fast memory cards. These are my favorite. 16G don’t last long enough, especially if you’re shooting action and above 32G is just risking too many photos if you lose it. I know that sounds weird but that’s how I think of it. Also, I’ve never had one of these babies become corrupted on me so… yay! Photographers can never have too many of these.

SanDisk Ultra 32GB

For photographers with cameras that take SD cards.. here you go!

ZIYUETEK USB 3.0 CF Card Reader SD Memory Card Reader Writer Compact Flash Card Adapter for CF/SD/TF Micro SD/Micro SDHC/MD/MMC/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I Card for Windows, Mac – Silver

ZIYUETEK USB 3.0 CF Card Reader SD Memory Card Reader 

No matter what you use, this card reader has you covered.

MindShift Gear Card-Again CF Memory Card Wallet (Greenstone)

MindShift Gear House of Cards Memory Wallet (CF and SD Cards) 

A perfect stocking-stuffer, this foldable memory cardholder does exactly what it’s supposed to do, it keeps your memory cards safe and organized. Tip: As you use your cards, flip them over so at a glance you know which ones you’ve used.

MindShift Gear Card-Again SD Memory Card Wallet 

Here’s a version of the Mindshift Gear wallet for SD cards.

Pelican 0945 Compact Flash Memory Card Case (Black)

Pelican 0945 Compact Flash Memory Card Case (Black)

For situations where there are adverse conditions, this padded pelican waterproof 6-memory card case is the ticket.

Pelican SD Memory Card Case 

A great, water-resistant option for SD cards.

Think Tank Photo Cable Management 

Think Tank Photo Cable Management Case

Before I used this Think Tank bag, I kept all my chargers and cables in a Ziplock bag, and it worked. It was an economical choice but not an ergonomic solution. The square box design of Think Tank bag holds the same amount and it’s a lot easier to pack.

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Best Gifts for Photography Lovers

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