Photography gear is generally very personal for each person, so most of these suggestions are very “general.” Whatever you get, if possible, I always suggest you have your receipt, or better yet, a gift receipt available, so that the photographer can return the gift if it doesn't quite work for them, or if they have it already.
- Books: Ansel Adams in the National Parks: Photographs from America's Wild Places by Ansel Adams ($24.00), or Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera by Bryan Peterson ($14.70) — Personally, I consider Ansel Adams the greatest American photographer. I have many of his books. I continue to use Adam's Zone System to this day. His National Parks book is a marvelous and inspiring example of his work. Bryan Peterson's Exposure book is the most comprehensive book about getting exposure right there is. The book is for the novice to intermediate photographer.
- B and H or other photography store Gift Card — Many people today purchase photographic equipment from a variety of store types, both in person and online. I think the advantages of purchasing photo gear from a quality photo shop overwhelm purchasing from other locations. The expertise they can offer can be invaluable. Despite what some may say, a gift card can be a thoughtful gift.
- Nikon or Canon Coffee Mug ($26.50) — This are just plain fun to have and use. The Nikon version looks like a 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor lens.
- For a Nikon owner, a 1 year membership to Nikonians ($25) — As a moderator there, I can attest that Nikonians is the premier Nikon/Photography website anywhere offering top notch conversation, advice and resources about Nikon equipment and photography in general, which you can find anywhere.
- NPS National Parks Pass ($80) — There are more spectacular photographic opportunities per square mile in US National Parks than anywhere on earth. What could be a better present than an annual pass to the US National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands. (Don't purchase this gift for anyone 62 years of age or older. They are entitled to the Golden Age Passport ($10), a lifetime pass to national parks, monuments, historic sites, recreation areas, and national wildlife refuges that charge an entrance fee.)
- Sony 10” Digital Photo Frame (128MB Memory) ($119) —When you return home, you want a great way to show off your trip’s great photos. This digital photo frame will do that. You can show off a single spectacular image, or display a great slide show in the frame. This 10” frame operates up to 800 x 480 max pixels in an aspect ratio of 16:10. It has many slide show options and produces crisp looking photos on its screen.
- Visual Departures Model II Steadybag Camera Support ($66.50) — When we travel there are many locations we need to support our camera/lens, but tripods and monopods aren't permitted. The observation decks of the Eiffel Tower, and Empire State Building are examples. The Steadybag, a “beanbag” is just what's needed. It's filled with custom-milled polypropylene beads in it's rugged waterproof bag.
- Lowepro DryZone 200 Backpack ($269.95) — Does your photographer have a water adventure in mind, but is afraid of ruining that expensive photo equipment? The DryZone photo gear backpack is a truly waterproof bag capable of protecting equipment while whitewater rafting or hiking through a rain forest.
- FM Photography McClamp - Standard Micro Clamp and 1" Mount Clamp ($44.95) — No, this item has nothing to do with a Big Mac and Fries. This clamp can eliminate wind effects for improved sharpness of macro photographs outdoors. It clamps to a tripod leg and can hold gray cards, reflectors, or even a delicate stem of a rose, to hold it still.
- Tamrac 153 World Correspondent's Vest ($114.95) — Think “outside the box.” While this is a photographer’s vest, I use it as my extra carry-on. It also helps me carry small personal items through airport security. I always travel with my vest.
When you arrive at security, you must empty your pockets of change, keys, cell phone, MP3 player, etc. With a vest you can put these items its pockets and zip them closed for safekeeping, before placing the vest in a bin. More important, especially when when your carry-on is limited to one, or the weight to just a few pounds, you’d be surprised how much you can load into one of these vests. A photographer’s vest can be a great travel asset for every traveler. It’s saved me many times.
You can even use it to carry photo gear when you're out shooting.