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The Amplifier

Photography: Hunting for the Perfect Shot

Every year, countless Kentuckians eagerly await the start of deer season or the countless other times for population reduction or consumption. It's a time where Facebook news feeds are flooded with graphic photos of a hunter's proud conquest. For photographers, we hunt wildlife in a different way. Although there is a number of photographers who are hunters, most view nature with an appreciation and respect for preservation. We see the beauty in even the simple fuzzy details of moss on coating a fallen tree or the shiny drops of water gracing the veins of a newly fallen leaf. Rather than focusing on the conquest aspects of a hunt, we admire nature from afar with no intentions of alteration while hunting for the perfect shot. Sometimes hunters question why their deer got away or how they see a photographer post photos of a deer so close and seemingly tame. The simple truth is that if you know how to hunt for the shot with no intention of harm, then nature somehow knows. Or just call it photographic luck with a telephoto lens. Either way, this season it's time to hunt for the perfect shot.

As a photographer, I'm always saddened at the start of the season despite the logic in reducing their population. Despite being in a wreck involving a deer many years ago, I've never quite gotten over the guilt or been able to drive faster at night. So I made a promise to myself then, that I would began a personal project to focus more on my nature photography in an effort to raise awareness on conservation and hopefully help others see the beauty in nature as I see it. The hardest part for some photographers is determining what to capture and how. Many see a gorgeous photo in a magazine or on a website and wish to duplicate it. Such as a photograph of a misty sunrise with a majestic buck proudly displaying his antlers in the morning fog, but hunting for these subjects can be time consuming and frustrating. That doesn't mean you should give up, but instead the contemplation should be that nature is free. To attempt to force it into a pose will result in disappointment and frustration. The more time you spend in nature, the better you will understand it and the more subjects your camera will be allowed to capture and preserve. Without first getting to know your subject, you would only be a tourist taking a photo rather than a photographer preserving a moment or capturing a soul.

When in nature, always consider your personal safety. However amazing a shot could be, don't make the mistake of thinking you are safe in the woods. If you don't know the owner and have their permission, then the photo is definitely not worth your life or legal ramifications from being caught trespassing by a harsh land owner. Always wear a bright colored vest and hat so that you will be better protected from an accidental shooting. While shooting nature, photographers tend to move slowly and stay low - this could result in mistaken identity. The safest choice, especially for beginners is to choose a location such as a national park where animals are protected. For Kentuckians, Mammoth Cave National Park is a perfect paradise. Not only is it much safer to hunt for the perfect shot, you also have animals who have seen no real threat from humans and tend to be more docile and some even unexpectedly friendly. Despite this, please don't feed them as you will risk being punished with hefty fines. Also don't forget to gather the essentials that you will need in case you are lost or injured. Some examples are simple non-perishable foods such as peanut butter, granola bars and lots of water. Comfortable, water resistant shoes and layers for your body will help keep you comfortable. Don't forget a warm, furry hat and fingertip-less gloves for when you're taking photos. Bring waterproof matches, magnifying glass, and other essentials such as a compass, knife (in case of attack or to build shelter), first aid kit, small tarp (for shelter or keeping dry photographing while prone) solar charger for your phone and of course additional batteries and memory cards for your equipment. Cold weather quickly drains batteries and moisture can damage your equipment so always carry a dry cloth and bring plastic bags in case of rain. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. You may accidently wander into the hunting territory of a predator or a protective mate. Remember to tell someone you trust where you are going and where you will be. If you plan to wander off the common trail, leave clues to your location in case of injury or you mistakenly become lost. Regularly check the weather and leave extra early so you're not trapped deep in the woods during bad weather. These tips apply year round. If you're not typically a nature person, it's best to photograph in groups. Not only for added protection from the wildlife, but because of the variety of skills a group will possess not only in the knowledge of nature, but also in photographing it.

Once you've determined your location and gathered the essentials, then begin your hunt. Deer and other wildlife are commonly active at dawn and dusk. Be willing to get dirty or uncomfortable. A tripod and long lens will be your friend. Not only is it easier to get a shot from a distance, it's also much safer for you and less stressful for the animal. They are less likely to notice the photographer allowing you to capture the animal 'un-posed' in its natural environment. It's a good idea to invest in multiple lenses for trips into nature or at least a good lens that zooms across multiple focal lengths. Of course, the longer the lens, the more a tripod will be required to help prevent camera shake from blurring your amazing shot. Longer lenses tend to be more prone to camera shake due to their construction and to their size and weight. Not all locations will be ideal for faster shutter speeds, so you will need the stability that only a tripod can offer. A wide angle lens will enable you to capture more of the entire scene rather than only a smaller section. If you don't have a DSLR or the budget for a wide angle or other lenses, use a tripod and capture multiple photos of a landscape and merge them in Photoshop or walk closer or farther to change your distance.

Lastly, if you've been hunting for the perfect shot with no luck you may feel discouraged and like packing up and going home. The issue isn't with your luck, but is instead with your perception of nature. Sometimes the best portrait of nature's unique beauty is in the simplest of details not typically seen. Instead of focusing on the larger animals and searching endlessly for deer or other creatures, consider the beauty closer to you. There is unique flora present in the woods. Especially the protected woods within national parks. There are countless species of plans, insects and smaller subjects. If you have a macro lens you can get even closer to the details. Pause for a moment and listen to the wind. Follow it. Watch the descent of a single leaf from the canopy and discover the beauty that is hidden, but so unimaginably abundant.

Posted: Friday, December 20, 2013 3:08 pm

http://www.bgamplifier.com/arts/photography-hunting-for-the-perfect-shot/article_e73498d8-69ba-11e3-9705-001a4bcf887a.html

Find Your Strength

One of the hardest battles as a photographer is not with the light we chase or the equipment we carry. It is with learning to ignore the voice inside you telling you that what speaks to your soul isn't 'right' because of the laws of the consensus. Truth is, you must create what speaks to you and only you. For if you continue to listen to the will of others, you will be creating what others see, instead of forging a reputation for a vision that is true to you.

It is important to be knowledgeable in your craft, but never so much that you rely on perfection and forget to take chances. In all forms of art, it's not about the past - it's about where you're going. Each moment you capture will be a vision of the past for those in the future. Obviously, your style should evolve, but one should never allow that style to mimic others. Emulate slightly the amazing style that you adore, but always be yourself. Especially in that which you create as an extension of your soul and creative consciousness.

Sadly, one difficult reality for photographers is to fight to float above the judgments of the very 'professionals' that should be the guidance for the new generation of photographers. Many of the seasoned professionals become threatened by the new blood. There is good reason, for most newbie's tend to price their services so below market that many times people are fooled into assuming they just scored an awesome deal. Yet, where is the value? Of course, low prices for portfolio building is not the same situation. Those who truly care for their work and their clients will always work to improve, not just focused on making fast money. Well, making money is fabulous right? Yet, still...the true importance is to ensure there is value in the work you are offering. If you look at your work and see no changes over a length of time, then worry. Stop shooting and start examining why your work has yet to evolve. Even the professional with the immaculate portfolio takes on new projects. Why haven't you? Seriously. Sit down, examine your work and begin to plan some new projects. Oh, but what could I possibly imagine? Well let's see...what speaks to you in your world? Maybe you love dolls or cars. Maybe children or elderly. Only you know that. Find the subjects that inspire you to endlessly create, then utilize those subjects as a project. When you start shooting subjects that are important to you, true creativity is unleashed and others will see that. Find a specialty that you never know you had or that has been there all along, but you were unable to realize it.

Realize, that what you see online isn't always what you get. Often times, someone has created the most incredible work ever. You even go to the trouble of checking out their EFIX (camera settings) data only to find that replicating the settings didn't create the same masterpiece. What! Seriously. You may be thinking, "Hey! That's me, why is this happening?". The reason is, you can't just copy! There's a very slim chance that you can get all the elements correct. The light, the moment, the location, the equipment...so many factors come into play that have an outcome on the final result. Don't forget the editing and post processing workflow too. Honestly, learn from that masterpiece, but do not attempt to duplicate it. You will waste your time in misery attempting to be someone you're not. Don't waste your potential. Create your own work and keep creating until you are satisfied with the outcome. At that moment of completion, you'll inspire yourself to create more for you will enjoy the satisfaction of gazing upon something that is truly you. Besides, how would you feel if someone was making money off your ideas?

You must determine a path for the future. Isolate and target your strengths and weaknesses. Stop trying to impress everyone and saying yes to every possible opportunity just because you need the money or recognition. You will be exhausted and quickly become burnt out. Your goal is to do only that which you love in order to find the happiness we all seek. By determining your specialties and strengths, you will be only shooting that which your soul loves and embraces. Your work will show improvement as you begin to explore the creative possibilities. Learn to say no. If you don't, you'll never have time to find yourself and when your work isn't consistent, others will notice. In time, it will become harder to improve your skills if you're bouncing around between subjects and specialties like an adult with ADHD (like me!). If you love children, but dislike photographing families then stop advertising family portraits. Cull them from your website, social media and advertising. Remove all mention of them too. Focus your entire 'brand' on child photography.

Lastly, many photographers still lack an online presence. I've seen a phenomenon on websites and social media of photographers of all skill levels: forgotten location information and contact details. How can you expect to be found without even a way to be contacted? Another issue is how many photographers utilize a website that is either disorganized, outdated or worse...none at all. With all the resources for free websites and an online portfolio via photo hosting companies, how can you not have a website? It is of utmost importance to have an online presence unless your local clients are so loyal that you truly don't need the additional business or interest. Even then, it can help to maintain your business in a time when the market is changing and clients are looking online for services and reviews, no longer just relying on word of mouth. Of utmost benefit is the ability to share your work and learn from the reactions what works best for you. Although there will be some who will painfully rip your work from your heart, realize that you must endure the criticism and learn from it. Despite critiques, there will always be positive words of encouragement to provide the drive to continue to improve your skills and grow into the photographer you always wanted to be.

In the end, there can be only one - only one photographer with your unique soul and talent. Embrace the reality of that truth. Realize that despite all your equipment or lack of it, you are not a Borg from Star Trek with the unstoppable lust for perfection. Instead, you are a human with a camera and a heart to capture that which speaks to you in order to inspire others. Listen to your unique voice. Go forth and determine your inspiration.

Posted: Friday, May 31, 2013 4:00 pm

http://www.bgamplifier.com/arts/find-your-strength/article_93b70cdc-ca31-11e2-ace8-001a4bcf887a.html?mode=image&photo=0

Featured Artist: Photographer Amber Flowers

Author: Ronnie Jaggers for The Amplifier

Amber Flowers said she has an unexplained need to release the creative tendencies within her mind, to document the world as she sees it. She said she literally finds as many excuses as possible to photograph or focus her emotions into her poetry and writing. Amber finds that the release of creativity is relaxing and sustaining. She said that this is her time to leave a legacy for her children and future generations and she hopes to achieve that.

Born in 1984 in Glasgow, Kentucky, Amber grew up in Elizabethtown, Kentucky and as an adult returned to Glasgow. Her current home is in Nobob, Kentucky in Barren County. She hopes to eventually move to the Elizabethtown area and one day maybe California or somewhere warmer with plenty of hiking and oceanic swimming opportunities.

Ms. Flowers owns Soul Gaze Photography Studio and describes her work as: "Artistic portraiture and landscapes in a wide assortment of specialties." “I mostly focus on photography, but also provide writing via poetry and content copywriting and also graphic design work such as website graphics, social media designs and other such creative endeavors. I am plagued by the need to always be creating in some form. It's like an invisible thread encouraging me to leave a legacy behind in my own unique way. This could be why I've been learning CSS and HTML and developing my SmugMug hosted website myself (with some help from Dgrin). My website constantly evolves as my knowledge grows just as with all forms of my art."

"The beauty of creativity is the ability to migrate from one form of art to another so that you are never bored. Even my editing workflow has evolved to include better technology and more advanced skills and ways to define my personal style”, stated Amber. “Occasionally, I'll decide upon a personal project with a purpose. Primarily my photography is a randomization that culminates from my travels and adventures which will be detailed via my new personal blog starting this year. The link is on my website. I've been slowly gathering photos and landmarks of all the places that have had sentimental importance to me and that I think would be of significant interest to others. Most of this new work is still awaiting editing. I have a bad habit of forgetting my personal work in favor of client sessions despite still working part time. I am starting to try to better organize my time to enable me to share more of my personal work."

Amber Flowers said that despite being varied in her interests, photography has remained her focus. She does not feel that she has reached the professional level where each image is perfect according to photographic standards and expectations, but she does leave a part of her soul in her work. She said, “I have my own style that is always evolving like the intricate changing flavor of a vintage wine. In that sense, I am still not fully ready, but I believe that in reality there is no true expert or professional of any craft. When I find a unique location to photograph and capture the shot how I envisioned it or occasionally capture the 'lucky' shot I wasn't even planning, I tend to jump as excitedly as a school child. My true intention is to document the world through my eyes. I've enjoyed photography, but not with such true interest as when I discovered my capabilities with infrared. It became the window into my dreamscape. I started to see the world in infrared even without my camera present - which is a rare occurrence for I carry my gear with me everywhere”.

Ms. Flowers does not currently have a separate studio space, saying, “Currently, I utilize my home office for editing, writing and business needs such as client consultations and tutoring. It is small, but well lit and decorated very eccentrically with things that have meaning and inspiration. I plan to redesign my entire office to be more accommodating to clients, while still maintaining an eclectic atmosphere. I do most of my photo editing and writing while my children are at school and late at night when all is quiet. I tend to sacrifice sleep because I prefer the solitude when creating. I guess you can blame my ADHD! I would feel so blessed to have an investor to make that dream a reality, but for now I am saving towards that goal. I love being an on-location photographer, but I have so many studio requests that I know income would greatly increase in comparison. While that aspect is ideal and it would be lovely to ignore the weather and control my lighting, there will always be something so magical and divinely real about capturing humanity in its true form. I'd never stop being an on-location photographer for I love the freedom of exploring our world for exactly the background I, or those I photograph, desire whether it be urban or nature themed”.

Amber’s photographic obsession began via the gift of a Kodak 110 at around eight years old. It enabled her to begin to capture the world in the unique way that she saw it through her eyes, saying this later gave rise to the reasoning behind the name: 'Soul Gaze Photography'. “My first digital camera was a Canon A70 which I'd purchased using my first full paycheck at Wal-mart in Glasgow which was also my first official 'career' out of high school. I continued to improve my photography during the five years I worked with Wal-mart, but only in my spare time. Eventually, I'd upgraded my camera to a Canon S5IS and later to a Nikon D40, my first DSLR. I'd then discovered my ability for infrared photography which became the perfect creative outlet for my vision. As for my writing, I had excelled in English class in high school. I helped grade papers and whenever I'd had a bad day, I focused my energy into my words. I may not be as much of a perfectionist in my English skills, but my words still have imaginative significance. My profession has enabled me to document and preserve memories. It's helped me better appreciate how short life is and the important responsibility of capturing life before it's too late. I've experienced many deaths both of people I personally know and of those who've touched my life. I've seen towns grow and change and places of sentimental or historic significance lost forever. I photograph to remember. It is a digital time capsule that truly forges a deep appreciation for the fragility of our existence”.

Truth and honesty is paramount. I do not claim to create anything that is not my own. I've heard of 'fauxtographers' stealing others work rather than to learn for themselves and I find that so appalling. Share your knowledge and treat others as you would expect to be treated. This includes the environment which is of utmost concern to me. I am a kindred spirit with nature. I never damage anything just to get a shot. I find that when you respect nature, good things tend to happen when you least expect it like the magical glow of a sunset shining just at the right moment despite the previous disappointment of an overcast session. Maybe it is wishful thinking, but I do believe karma exists so I do my best to follow that belief in every aspect of my life. Inspiration is something that defines who we are as an artist, yet for many it is not something that can be explained. That's how I feel in regards to my work. I see things in a certain way sometimes. I just capture or write what I see or feel. It flows from a part of my soul into a tactile form. I do find that I work best after I've been hiking or exploring in nature or listening to music. Unfortunately, this also means that I tend to work at my own pace which limits my availability and prevents me from obtaining 'rock star photographer' status. I find that if I push myself to rush into a creation I no longer see the magic. The problem with modern society is it's choosing to move at such a pace to not enjoy life as it happens. By allowing your spirit some creative freedom, the pieces within your soul can be released”, stated Amber.

In December of 2009, Amber founded Southern Kentucky Photographer's Club with the intention of finding other photographers like herself, of all skill levels, who reside in Kentucky. She said, “I'd wanted to find others to join in on my adventures that weren't afraid of getting dirty or damaged while pursuing a shot. I'm also a trained spotter for NWS in Louisville where I frequently submit weather photography when it has a scientific or journalistic interest. Otherwise, I've not really focused on a photographic organization. I had decided to wait until I had more time to dedicate to the requirements. PPA is top of my list along with several of the honorable pay it forward organizations”.

Amber said that everything she has ever created has been fully self-taught. She has had no formal training besides what she has learned from doing, networking with others and research online. “I would love to have formal training and would most likely enter Western Kentucky University Journalism program if I had the funding and help caring for my children during class. Photos are meant to tell a story, so anything that can help me do that effectively is welcome. For now, I'm thankful for what I've learned on my own and hopeful that I will continue to evolve in new ways”.

Amber Flowers has been featured online, in newsletters and has won accolades and freebies. She tied for 1st place in a logo contest for another photographer and won a CD of digital downloads. “I felt honored when my photograph of Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky was chosen by a Louisville marketing company to represent the hospital on their Leadership Development Guide project. I've also had photography featured on the front page and website of Glasgow Daily Times. I've been a contributor for The Amplifier (Bowling Green Daily News) since 2010. My article on photographing fireworks was in the #5 most read articles for 2010. The Fall/Halloween article made the top 25”. She said she would love to be rich and famous so her husband could work for fun not profit, in order to provide their family a comfortable life.

Yet, regardless of financial assets, Amber said, “I want my work to mean something...to inspire others and to continue to grow in uniqueness as I grow as a person and an artist. My photographic dream is to have the resources to create authentic tintypes and cabinet cards. I find them to be absolutely unique and love how they are truly one-of-a-kind. It is an art that is also dying which I would love to be able to help prevent. I'd also love to have an Infrared converted Nikon D300 to expand my creative abilities with my infrared work; most importantly, to be able to make a difference in the world. If I could travel the world and document my adventures such as a National Geographic photographer, I'd be in photographic heaven on earth”.

Amber Flowers said, "Everything happens for a reason". And, she likes a quote by Vivian Green, "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain"

You can contact Amber Flowers at:

Additional social media links and contact information is available on her website.

Posted: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 9:00 am

http://www.bgamplifier.com/arts/photographer-amber-flowers/article_028dab34-b1af-11e2-931d-001a4bcf887a.html

Portfolio Images Submitted for Article

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Are You an Eccentric Photographer?

By its definition, to be eccentric is to be unique in such a way that it defines you. Maybe to the point others question your sanity, but the beauty of being eccentric is the inability to be concerned with such trivial gossip and judgment. Besides, what creative endeavor is worth the time if it is merely a 'cookie cutter' representation of everyone else? If you are struggling to find your style, maybe you should consider if you are truly being yourself. As a photographer, the ability to stand out in an over saturated market is paramount. Are you eccentric enough to be yourself when everyone says to be something else? 

Eccentric: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eccentric

What classifies an eccentric photographer? The obvious truth is confidence and the ability to continuously define your character by your actions and creations.

Here are ten humorous examples:

1. You march to your own drum often taking photos of ordinary subjects in common locations and capturing something fabulous. While others would be standing to compose, you are on the ground twisted like a pretzel for the best angle. You know that to stand out doesn't always mean to stand up. What you see isn't always what you get. Your motto is to capture what you see, even if it means seeing it from an uncomfortable location. Yet despite this, you know that safety is key and are never in true danger.

2. When someone has an idea that normally means they are turned away, you not only get excited, you immediately start planning. You gather props and imagine ways to make their idea so fabulous that it could never be replicated. For you, truly eccentric ideas are playgrounds of possibilities. Freedom to create what you imagine and bring a new vision to reality.

3. When you purchase a new lens or equipment, you are as giddy as a child with a new toy and it doesn't leave your side. Ever. Even going to work or just across the house or to do yard work. Honestly, it 's like your new puppy or kitten that must be consistently played with in order to be happy. Wait, for you to be happy not the lens...right?

4. Your photographic addiction is so strong that your spouse is secretly considering hiding, selling or destroying all cameras in the house. Too bad they'll forget about your iPhone! The irony in this is that technology has drastically improved to the point that its becoming increasingly easier to capture beauty via a cell phone and harder to determine which reality was captured with a tiny phone vs. an expensive DSLR. Too bad you can't just purchase Google Glass (http://www.google.com/glass/start/). No one would suspect a thing you dastardly and stylish undercover photographer from the future!

5. You never pass up a moment. No matter how embarrassing or how extreme the weather, if you are inspired it is forever documented whether via your point & shoot, DSLR or camera phone. You truly cannot allow yourself to miss a moment or it drives you insane. You long for that image so strongly that you will do everything to capture it even if it means standing motionless in the hot sun or freezing snow. You risk your sanity and health, but never doubt your intentions for a second. You truly believe in your goal and no one can deter you. Not even the elements.

6. Your daily routine involves waking by capturing photos of the sunrise, capturing your breakfast for Instagram (before you even sit to eat!), the cat in the window or other monotonous subjects that rarely are considered interesting on a daily basis. You find beauty in so many things in the world. You are a proud addict with no intention of entering rehab...even if your most expensive possession is your equipment. You must daily photograph whether with a cell phone or a DSLR to prevent insanity. You document life in a whole new way that's just your style.

7. You create magic with even the cheapest cameras. DSLR? Who needs to spend amounts akin to multiple mortgage payments on the latest technology? It's not like it's the camera taking the shots. Seriously, it's all about the photographer, not the gear. True, shiny new gear can capture images easier, but without the correct talent and knowledge its nothing more than a rusty old film camera with broken lenses and light leaks. Wait, I forgot...you make even THAT look cool. Point is, do not doubt yourself. Never decide that you are a failure because you can't afford or haven't obtained the latest and the greatest new gear. Be happy with what you have and don't change it unless you have to replace a damaged or lost piece of your collection. Just as an artist with paintbrushes, you must realize that sometimes your gear is warn, but your talent will enable you to still create beauty regardless of the challenge.

8. Your wardrobe and decorating style is rather eccentric as it tends to be boho chic (for even your home is a session location), has that comfortable lived-in look resulting from not enough time for obsessive cleaning or you go on a shoot dressed for an African safari adventure even though you're just going across town to the local park. Your sexy and you know it. You rock your style like a model because everyone you meet is a potential client. You embrace your sense of individuality and desire to capture and encourage that in all your subjects. Even to the point of posing exactly how you want your client to pose, despite looking or feeling silly.

9. You have the frugal ability to create photographic tools from ordinary objects. Coffee filter? Great flash diffuser! Automotive window visor? Handy portable reflector! Money is a commodity for the famous and rich photographers. An eccentric photographer takes great photos even when their gear looks worn, is used or even handmade. Physical gear perfection is a sign of a lazy photographer stuck the routine of trying too hard to be perfect. You are not afraid to try new things or design new and better tools to create your masterpiece!

10. Even your website is eccentric for you are a self-proclaimed hacker spending many sleepless nights creating only what suits you. Forget the simplicity of hiring a designer. You are unique and ever changing and want your online presence to reflect that. No cookie cutter website would ever work for you. You consistently change your outlook on the world and your photographic style to suit your changing taste, so your website and portfolio must reflect that or you feel you are missing an important and critical detail. Not to mention the sheer amount of work to attempt to organize and share. Your work is like an onion posted online for the world to browse.

In the end, to truly be an eccentric photographer, you must embrace your style of work just as much as you embrace your personality and individual style. When you merge your reality with the creative vision you possess, your work will stand out more because you are displaying your passion to the world. Never fear the critiques of others. For they are guidance to learn to listen to your inner voice. Be true to yourself in your work, without fear or doubt and your eccentric style will inspire others. 

Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 11:49 am

http://www.bgamplifier.com/arts/are-you-an-eccentric-photographer/article_f08eb688-b1b5-11e2-892c-001a4bcf887a.html

Unique Holiday Gifts for Photographers

Holidays are one of the busiest times of the year for photographers of all levels. Professionals are conducting endless sessions for clients and hobbyists are capturing family events and nature scenes as creatively as possible. While you are currently freaking out unable to determine the best holiday gifts for the talented Photographer in your life. Have hope! For there are countless options for any budget that await below.

Phones & Accessories:

While many phones continue to amaze with special features and new releases, none dominate the market for Photographers quite like Apple's iPhone (http://www.apple.com/iphone/). Currently, the newest released iPhone 5 boasts a larger screen while still being thinner than previous models. Save yourself some cash and purchase the iPhone 4S if you can still find one. They can run using the same operating system as the newer and more expensive iPhone 5 which will be replaced before the next holiday season anyway. For Kentucky readers, Bluegrass Cellular carries the iPhone or you can visit many of the popular companies available nationwide such as AT&T. By purchasing an iPhone, you are giving the photographer in your life access to organization, countless photography apps and more for creative and busy photographers to better take control of their life. Include a iTunes gift card so photographers can purchase some of the popular editing apps that cost such as Snapseed ($4.99), VSCO Cam ($.99) or photography apps which enable the iPhone's camera to capture photos in a unique and creative way not available via Apple's provided camera. iTunes gift-cards can also be used to purchase music, movies and more to ensure they have the iPhone of their dreams.

If you've purchased the iPhone or know a Photographer who already has one, there are also countless other ideas. Companies such as Zagg have designed a portable wall-outlet

charger

that extends the battery life by providing four full charges on their most expensive model ($39.99) or one charge for ($99.99) on their most affordable without the need to be near an outlet until they run out of charging capacity. These chargers can also be used on other Apple products such as the iPad  and most Android phones and tablets. Ensure model compatibility before purchase.

For the Photographer with an iPhone who already has everything they need, there are unique items such as the

Olloclip

($69.99). It attaches to the outside of the iPhone in front of the camera. This creative device is basically mini-lenses that enable the user to finally take macro, telephoto or fisheye photos via the iPhone.

Additionally, you can also purchase a case, screen protector and other accessories, but unless you really know your Photographer's personality, cases and the fun of customization is best left to them.

Cameras:

Always a popular choice for Photographers of any level is cameras. In order to make the best decision, you will need to take the time to do some reconnaissance to best determine their needs. Some details to research include: how large will they be printing pictures (determines the megapixel), do they need interchangeable lenses, what level of photographer are they and where do they plan to be in the future. Cameras can be expensive, so if you don't have the time to do the research, a gift card is your best option and wold also be suitable for other photography endeavors. You can also consult with popular camera retailers such as B&H, Calumet and Adorama

Lenses are another consideration. They result in a major improvement in creativity and image quality. Wide-angle and fish-eye lenses allow the Photographer to capture more of a scene than with an ordinary lens which tends to lose part of the scene. Uses for wide-angle and fisheye lenses include landscape, realty and even creative uses such as experimental portraits. Macro lenses enable the Photographer to get closer to subjects than with ordinary lenses. Imagine their pleasure at capturing the tiny strands of hair on a dragonfly or the pollen inside a flower? Telephoto lenses are great for the Photographer who loves to capture sports, portraits or other more distant subjects without having to be close. If you can't decide on a lens, be the coolest gift giver this year and purchase them a lens replica mug (Canon or Nikon). These seriously look just like expensive professional lenses and are safe to drink out of!

Other popular ideas include: tripod, battery grip, SD or CF cards to store photos (just ensure they are fast writing), and camera straps or bags in you know your Photographer's personality. Some stores for purchasing

custom straps

include: Etzy, Swanky Stitch, Jodie's Camera Straps, Spice Up Your Camera.

Camera bags are fairly easy to find and some options beside common retail stores include: Lowepro, Think Tak Photo, Jo Totes and Kelly Moore.

Technology: Always a popular item among Photographers is technology. This includes items such as the iPad or iPad Mini which much like the iPhone help a Photographer be more organized but due to their size can also be a portable portfolio. Both the iPhone and iPad are the same product. The major differences are the screen sizes, speeds, screen resolution. Both perform essentially the same function except for a few apps designed only for the iPad due to its larger screen size. Many other tablets exist, but for the Photographer who already owns an iPhone the iPad is the best choice. For others, Kindle Fire and the countless other new brands competing with Apple's iPad are also of consideration.

Computers and laptops are also a great choice, but are very pricey. Photographers need a fast computer to be able to handle hours of photo editing and multitasking with large programs. Ensure there is enough memory and a large processor to compensate. Also, the graphic card and screen resolution is important for displaying photography during editing. Whether or not to purchase a desktop, laptop or a laptop with a larger external monitor is also important. Some prefer to be bound to their desk so that they keep their work separate from their life. Others are mobile and prefer a laptop with the speed for portable editing and business use. A hybrid option is a laptop with an external monitor for when the Photographer returns home so they can see their work larger and easier to edit compared to the smaller laptop screen or even utilize the extra monitor as a dual setup. A dual monitor setup allows a Photographer to browse the internet to fulfill orders (or talk on Facebook!) one one screen while editing photos on another. Due to the large purchase price, this is one gift you'll want to ensure can be returned if the specifications don't fit the Photographer's needs. Also, know that

external storage is a great idea for photographers who already have a great computer.

Software is also a great gift idea for the Photographer who loves to edit photos or doesn't yet. The most popular are Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop or Elements. Prices range from $99-$699. They are each different and should be researched before making a purchase unless you ensure the item is returnable. If the Photographer already owns Lightroom or Photoshop, they'd love cash to purchase some of the unique presets or actions that exist.

Websites & online storage: All Photographers who regularly photograph should have online storage for additional photography backup. Some could even make money by selling their work via a website. Many options exist. You could gift a subscription to unlimited host SmugMug or one of the many other options. They will need to purchase a domain name if they plan to drive regular traffic to their new website for ease of use and professionalism. If your Photographer already has a website, purchasing their renewal would be a gift to help cut down on their cost to profit ratio.

Props: Photographers who regularly photograph portraits would appreciate some thoughtful and unique props to help their work stand out from the competitors. Pay attention to what type of photography they do and go from there. If they capture primarily children photography then focus on props for children such as toys, clothing, small vintage chairs and unique items.

Jewelry & Clothes: Obviously, any photography related jewelry or clothes you can find are a great idea. Rue 21 and many of the boutique stores in malls have recently carried retro camera pendants as necklaces, but they can also be found online. Alternately, you could purchase a gift card to allow them to get their photography printed on photo pendant jewelry or as shirts and other items at many vendors available online.

Gadgets & Unique Gifts: For some of the most amazing and unique gift ideas for Photographers in one location, visit the Photojojo store. Seriously unique items abound inside this store. So many that it's impossible to even attempt to describe them here. There are gift ideas for any budget and even a few things for you! You'll find gadgets, cool things you'll wish you'd thought of, jewelry and more. You can also search Pinterest for unique gift ideas. Many of which you can create. The internet is full of countess vendors and ideas for your holiday shopping.

The most important consideration is spending time with your Photographer. Don't forget to take pictures and enjoy the holidays together. In the end, anything that enables your Photographer to be more creative in their photography will be the perfect gift. Simply being their guinea pig for a few shots they've always wanted to try can be a great gift. If you still can't decide, just give them everyone's favorite gift of money or gift cards. Regardless, may this year's holiday gift giving have a 'photo finish'.

Image credit

Olloclip: http://www.olloclip.com/about-us/media/

Zagg,  Jo Totes, Kelly Moore, Photojojo are screenshots from 11/19/2012.

 

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012 4:33 pm

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