Update: I just posted an updated, more extensive list here: Gift Ideas for Photographers.
I get asked this question a fair amount as friends try to shop for their avid photographer loved one. It is a tough question to answer because camera gear can be very expensive, and most photographers have fairly strong opinions on photo gear. So, I thought I would throw out some less expensive, safer options to consider.
Digital frames Most photographers love to share the photos with family and co-workers, and having a nice digital frame for the office or home makes a great gift for most any photographer. I can’t recommend a particular one as I don’t own one, but I have found the buyer feedback on Amazon to be pretty accurate.
Books. I can’t own enough books, I’m running out of room to store them all. I have books on particular animal species, books on locations, and books on photography. Here are some of my favorites:
Galen Rowell’s classic book The Inner Game of Outdoor Photography is scheduled for re-release next May. Until then, this great book by the master is a great read even if some of the information is dated: Galen Rowell’s Vision: The Art of Adventure Photography
I haven’t seen this book, but know most of the contributors so feel fairly safe in recommending: The Ultimate Guide to Digital Nature Photography
These can be very helpful and provide a nice running head start for any location. I like to try to find my own “hot spots”, but there is nothing wrong with getting some help finding the existing ones. Except for the Oregon book, I have used, enjoyed and relied on these location guides:
Photographing the Southwest: Volume 1–Southern Utah (2nd Ed.)
Photographing the Southwest: Volume 2–Arizona (2nd Ed.)
Photographing the Southwest: Volume 3–Colorado/New Mexico (Photographing the Soutwest)
Photographer’s Guide to Yellowstone and the Tetons
The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite
Photographing Oregon (Phototripsusa)
Birds – every nature lover should have this valuable resource: The Sibley Guide to Birds
Bird behavior. If your photographer already has the Sibley Guide to Birds, this makes a great compliment: The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior It covers nesting / feeding, all kinds of stuff.
Wolves. If you like wolves as much as I do, and Denali, then this is a must read: Wolves Of Denali
Moose. I wish there was a book like this on every species. It is very comprehensive, over 700 pages, and parts are technical, but if you have ever wondered something about moose, you can find it here. I should warn you, books like this don’t come cheap, but Amazon has it for $75: Ecology and Management of the North American Moose
Or when all else fails, you can never go wrong with a B & H gift card.