Give the gift of time

Christmas is coming up and you may be wondering what gift to give a loved one who is a photographer.

You could buy them a new camera or lens, or even a photo workshop, but those can cost from several hundred to several thousand of dollars.

Photography is nothing if not expensive. So what can you get them if you’re on a budget? There’s one gift that is useful and affordable: the gift of time.

Frequency and quantity are the best ways to improve one’s photographic skills, so shoot often. But we all live busy lives and it may be tough to find time to go out and take pictures. Even though I am a professional photographer, I often find it hard to find the time to work on personal projects.

So offer to do chores for a day or two for your shutterbug. If they don’t have to think about washing clothes, painting a room or getting the oil in the car changed, then they can more freely turn their energies toward picture taking.

If they normally do the yard work then take it over for a weekend. Mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges and pruning the roses can take away from valuable shooting time. But if you do it for them then they can go out on a photo excursion.

If they’re in charge of getting the kids off to school in the morning then offer to do it to allow them to go shoot a sunrise. Or if they’re responsible for making dinner in the evening then you do it for a night or two so that they can photograph the sunset.

If you’re a parent or grandparent of a budding young photographer who’s not yet old enough to drive, offer to chauffeur them to a place or event that they want to take pictures of.

There’s another way to give your time to the photographer in your family. Go along with them. A few years ago I shot the setting of a supermoon over the Cosumnes River Preserve near Thornton. Even though it was early morning before the sun came up, there were a few other people there for the same reason I was. I talked to a woman who was there to photograph the celestial event and she said her husband came with her, albeit waiting in the warmth of their running car. Quite often going out to take pictures can be a solitary activity. Not many people want to get up early to photograph the rising sun or stay up late for its setting. Night photography of the stars is always best away from the city lights, where it’s the darkest. It can be a lonely affair taking exposures that last long seconds or even minutes. It’s nice to have someone to talk to and ward off the spookiness of the darkness.

If you’re already on a trip then try scheduling at least some of the itinerary around the best times to photograph. As I mentioned before, try to arrange to go out during early mornings and late afternoon for sunrise/sunsets and evenings for night photos.

Lastly, photographers are always looking for a willing victim…er..subject. You can offer to pose for them so that they can hone their portraiture skills. It’s always nice to be able to work with someone you know before moving on to taking pictures of strangers.

Even though it’s not something that you put in a box, gift wrap or put a bow on, time can be the best and most useful gift of all.

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  • Blog Author

    Clifford Oto

    Clifford Oto, an award-winning photographer, has been with The Record since 1984. Through the changes from black and white to digital photography, he’s kept his focus on covering the events, people and life of San Joaquin county. This blog deals ... Read Full
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