“What do you want for Christmas?”
It’s hard to answer this question when, as a stock photographer, what you want for Christmas includes a bigger camera, a faster lens, and a nice photographic vacation somewhere exotic.
Here are a few ideas for your wish list that fit a range of budgets. Drop a hint… or pick up something for your budding stock photographer friends.
$10 – $30 Budget:
Reflector – A must-have tool when photographing people outdoors in natural light. Impact makes a 5-in-1 collapsible reflector with gold, silver, white, and translucent surfaces for about $25 at B&H Photo. They also have two-sided reflectors for around $17, and plain white/translucent for around $10.
Bigger/Faster Memory Cards – SD card users can go for an SDHC card (the HC stands for High Capacity), which go up to 32GB. When you buy, look at the card’s class. Class 6 means the card can store data at 6MB per second, and Class 10 at 10 MB per second. Check in your camera manual or online to see how fast your camera can write data before going for the more expensive Class 10 card.
When buying CF cards, look at the size (they go up to 32GB) and also the read/write speed. The speed ratings on CF cards are measured by 1 x 0.15MB/second. So a speed rating of 66x is about 10MB/second, and 133x is about 20MB/second. Again, check your camera’s write speed before springing for a super-fast card. Check Amazon.com for good deals.
$30 – $60 Budget:
Hardware Store Work Lights – You can create a near-instant studio space in your home with some hardware store work lights and a big roll of paper. Though not as bright as studio flashes (and they do get hot) you can get started photographing people or objects with two or three shop lights. Workforce makes a halogen portable work light which sells for $15 at Home Depot. Pick up three for a complete set.
Seamless Paper Roll – Seamless paper backgrounds come in a flurry of colors — though you might start out with white — and run around $20-$50 on Depending on the width and how many yards you want. You’ll find them at B&H Photo or Amazon.com.
Photo Tip Cards – Our Photo Tip Cards make it so much easier to take beautiful photos when you’re out in the field. Get your settings right the first time, and cut down on your processing, produce striking images, and get accepted more quickly to stock photo agencies. They make a great stocking stuffer — even if you’re stuffing your own stocking.
Adobe Lightroom – If you don’t yet have the photo processing program Adobe Lightroom, go get it from Adobe.com. Lightroom not only allows you to process photos beautifully, but you can also organize them, keep them in “collections,” add keywords and titles, and more. It’s well worth it if you truly want to sell stock photos… and even more worth it if someone gives it to you as a gift!