Looking for gift ideas for a photographer? Magazine subscriptions can be a gift that keeps on giving. (Well, for a year or whenever the subscription runs out, that is…) Some provide news and information. Some provide education. Some provide inspiration. And some provide a bit of everything, stoking a photographer’s enthusiasm.
I still find it a real treat to sit down with a photography magazine, especially when I’m traveling. Sure, you can get a lot of similar information on the web now, but there’s still something about picking up a magazine. There aren’t as many photography magazines as there once were, but there are still some very good ones around, some of which I’ve subscribed to an read for several years.
Here are some of the better ones that I think are good bets for a gift subscription. There are plenty of other top-notch photography magazines available, such as Black & White and Aperture, but they’re for quite specific interests and tastes and probably less suitable as a gift subscription (unless they’ve requested it, of course!). I’m focusing here on some of the more widely accessible ones that are most likely to make for good gift subscriptions.
This list includes a range of subscription prices. Some a priced comfortably in stocking-stuffer range; others are more substantial investments. Some of these are monthly; some are quarterly or some other schedule.
With a focus on outdoor, landscape, and travel photography, there’s a mix of photography gear news and reviews as well as information about locales both close and far. And, of course, lots of drool-worthy photographs that’ll make you want to pack your bags and go.
It’s basically a monthly magazine (there are 11 issues per year), it’s available in print or a digital edition in multiple formats, and there’s a gift subscription option.
Best for: Enthusiasts who shoot landscapes or travel photography.
Shutterbug’s focus is quite broad and is aimed at enthusiasts, both amateur and professional. There’s a hefty dose of news and reviews of photography gear, special reports, and features on various aspects of photography. It’s similar to Popular Photography, but Popular Photography is no longer around.
It’s a monthly magazine (12 issues per year), there are print and digital versions, and they make gift subscriptions easy.
Best for: Beginner and intermediate enthusiasts with broad photography interests.
While nominally aimed at professional photographers, Digital Photo Pro is also quite accessible to amateur photographers who know their way around a camera. It’s probably not a great fit for “newbies” because the articles assume a certain level of comfort with the techniques and jargon of photography.
There’s photography news and reviews, features on emerging and established professional photographers, and detailed how-to guides. One thing I’ve particularly liked about this magazine is that they keep a constant eye on the future of photography and have features on emerging technology and trends. It does tend to be pretty heavy on advertising, and lengthy interview-style feature articles aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.
Best for: Photographers who know their way around a camera.
PDN (Photo District News)
This is very much geared toward professional and advanced photographers. It’s more of an industry news magazine than most of the others here, but if you want to know what’s happening in professional photography or where things area headed, this is the gold standard. They also include gear reviews and news as well as features on the work of selected photographers.
Best for: Working photographers who want to be plugged into what’s happening in the industry.
Aimed more toward working wedding and portrait photographers, Shutter magazine is one of the better-looking magazines out there. They put a heavy emphasis on gorgeous photography and don’t cram too much onto the page. A particular specialty is that each issue takes a deep dive into a particular theme. Some examples of topics include sales and marketing, branding, digital strategies, and lighting.
The subscription model is a bit different. It’s not one you can just pick up on a newsstand, but they also have a free subscription version where you can get the digital version free in exchange for agreeing to receive promotional emails from their partners. There is also a print subscription version; note that the subscription price doesn’t include the hefty shipping cost.
Best for: Wedding and portrait photographers.
Digital Camera World
I’ve always admired the British photography magazines. They’re more expensive to get in most of the places I’ve lived, but their glossy finish and high-end imagery has always made them feel more special. Digital Camera World is one of a stable of these British photography magazines. This one is aimed mainly at amateur enthusiasts and is probably not ideal for more advanced photographers. It includes new gear information and reviews but puts an emphasis on features focusing on specific skillsets and practical ideas for trying them out.
Another of these glossy British photography magazines that I like is Outdoor Photography.
Best for: Beginner to intermediate general photographers.
I couldn’t have a list of photography magazines without including this one. No, it’s not technically a “photography magazine,” but for decades it has been the gold standard for stunning travel and outdoor photography. It’s hard for any photographer to look through its pages and not be inspired to get out there and start shooting.
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