Stuffing the stocking for the photographer in your family.

The holidays are of course about giving more than receiving. Photographers know this more than many. We often are the missing face in the family photo or running around trying to capture moments during the event we may have been "volunteered" to attend, or at least so I have been told, (smirk). Often the fear of getting a photographer a gift during the holiday season is that the stuff we put on Santa's list is just so darn expensive or we are just too particular. Carbon tripod = 5 bills plus some. new lens = 1 to 10 grand, ugh. New memory card, wrong brand/speed/format, you just can't win. Well here are a few under $25 ideas for photographers that most will enjoy regardless of how well outfitted they may be. Take it from one of the most pedantic photog's out there. These are things that even if hey have one or two, more is always better.

1. Lens pens and/or the Sidekick. These little devices that are less than 12 or 20 bucks will clean off a lens brush away dust or squeegee off smudges from an iPad in a jiffy. No matter if your target has one already, they are easy to lose and can be put into each and every gear bag that your photographer owns.

2. Padded inserts. There is one thing a photographer never has Enough of and that is camera bags. Buying a simple padded insert from Tenba for $22 can turn any shoulder bag or backpack into a multi-use camera bag without screaming "gear bag"!

3. Eneloop rechargeable AA batteries and charger. These power flashes, and other supporting devices wonderfully and can be pre-charged and ready to use months after they are charged. These can be recharged over 1000 times and behave much like the disposable AA's that over the long run will cost hundreds more. $10-20 depending on quantity, 4 or 8 at

4. Cable ties. There are a thousand companies that make these. They range from 5 to 10 dollars depending on where they are bought but indispensable and tame the most savage of cable beasts.

5. Rain sleeves. If your photog does any outside shooting, sooner or later moisture comes into play and that is just not a good partner for many cameras. Where else can you protect thousand of dollars of equipment with only 6 bucks. OP/TECH USA makes the rain sleeve that comes in pack of 2 that beats a garbage bag hands down.

6. The bokeh kit from Photojojo. If you photographer enjoys shooting at night or likes lights in the background of their images this is a must. If they are creative, ditto, if they are looking for something fun to play with, we'll you get the idea. $25 from Photojojo.

7. Rogue flash bender. If you have seen that big light box attached to the top of your photo friends camera then these are the ticket. They quickly Velcro on to the flash with no tape or sticky fuss. Yeah, they may be $35 from expoimaging but with the cheap rain sleeves at number 5, I'm still averaging less than $25, give me a break, it's an expensive hobby.

8. One month gift subscription to or No one knows it all, except the folks at Lynda or Kelby Media. You can buy an unlimited online access gift subscription to either of these world class online training sites that teach Photoshop, Lightroom, iPhoto, Aperture, lighting, composition, camera technique, and the list goes on for only $25 a month. That's a lot of learning for less than a dollar a day. Both sites offer so much more than just photo related subjects so look at the class list for the best choice. Both sites offer month to month unlimited access which is just plain awesome. No contracts, do you hear that Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile?

9. LED flashlights. They are a buck a piece, are available everywhere, they need to be everywhere and there is no excuse not to buy 10 for everyone that heads out after dark. There is now no need for Batman.

10 Beer or Wine, really do i need to explain.

Merry Christmas