Holigay Gift Guide: Take a Picture, It’ll Last Longer

HOLIGAYS 2017 / Autostraddle

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We live in an age where everything is documented thoroughly and I have a fear that all we as a people are going to have in 20 years are lost phone photos and a terrifying facebook/tumblr archive SO here are some things to help you and yours document whatever is important to you right now.

This is mostly a guide for people looking to take fun photos of their fun life and not get too serious about the technical side of photography (or for photographers looking to have some fun cameras to carry around). Last year I did a guide that went more in depth on DSLRs and it still largely holds true so I’m not going to go into depth again but am happy to chat in the comments.

Easy Digital Documentation

Autostraddle Gift Guide: Cameras and Photography, Digital Photography

[1] Sony a5100 ($448). [2] Canon PowerShot ($179). [3] GoPro ($359).

Sony a5100: For the price, this camera blows most things out of the water. If you are looking to take great pictures of your day to day life, trips, new kitten, etc. but don’t want to think about it too much (or even if you do), this is the camera to buy.

Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS: iPhone 2.0 – better than your phone, good enough for day to day documentation – super small, affordable, might inspire you to take more than just selfies

GoPro: I have a love/hate relationship with them because they are the best at what they do and, fun fact, you can freeze any of the video frames and make it a photo so just hit record go for a swim with the dolphins and worry about catching the frame later. Just like, make sure it’s on and secure because I have lost a few out of helicopters don’t ask.

Why Buy a Camera When I Have a Phone

If you’re not into carrying a camera around but would consider carrying camera lenses, check out these phone lenses to step up your game. I personally have had a hard time remembering to bring things like this with me (I also usually carry a camera), so keep in mind that they are small and might run off but if you carry a bag, hike light, or think you would get good use out of them great!

I would start with this affordable one and if you use it then look into stepping up to the Olioclip. If you are all about phone only photography and are out at lakes taking sweeping landscapes and want the best, get the Moment New Wide Lens (or Tele if you prefer a longer lens).

You know how when you take a pic in a photobooth at a bar you and your squad look great? It’s because it’s lit so nicely – if you’re a selfie artist, make sure to pick up this light and you will not be disappointed.

Easy Analog Documentation

Autostraddle Gift Guide: Cameras and Photography, Analog Photography

[1] Fujifilm Instax Mini ($99.99). [2] Canon af35ML ($20-$100 depending on your eBay bidding skills). [3] Kodak Portra 400 ($42.95/5 rolls) [4] Epson V600 Scanner ($209.99)

Taking not-digital photos is a super fun way to document things because it’s cool but also (in my experience) it encourages you to take different photos than you would with a digital camera.

Instant cameras are super fun and also easy to instagram. I own at least seven vintage polaroids but I prefer the Instax (or the mini depending on your preference). It has better color, the film is cheaper, and it isn’t temperamental so you can enjoy taking fun photos and not be stressed about the cost, development time, and color longevity of the impossible project.

And now about 35mm. Disposable cameras are always a blast but OKAY I’m going to tell you a secret don’t blow it up but my absolute favorite 35mm camera is the Canon af35ML — it’s still cheap because it isn’t trendy like the Contax t2 (a point and shoot film camera made popular my Japanese street style bloggers which should cost ~$100 but currently costs around $800 because of cool factor plz don’t buy this literally buy any other point and shoot). But back to the Canon! It basically takes disposable style shots with a glass lens. Pop in some Fujifilm for more of a disposable aesthetic or some Portra for nice soft colors.

There’s also always the Pentax K1000, the gold standard for 35mm cameras when you want to get more into photography and have full manual operation.

And now that you are shooting on tangible media, you might want to invest in a scanner. I use the Epson 600 — scans of negatives cost at least $10/roll at the store (for low res) so if you’re scanning even semi-regularly, it’ll pay for itself. Also most photo places will give them to you on a CD and do you even have a disc drive anymore?


I don’t care how but please print your photos. Your hard drives mean nothing in the apocalypse. Also I have no idea if these drives will work in a year Apple may get rid of all plugs ever WHO KNOWS. I really don’t recommend printing your own photos – ink and paper is expensive and it is very hard to get the color correct and honestly more work and money than it is worth. I get photos printed at a few local places (depending on the print I need so if you’re in LA or the bay let’s talk) but the best online service is Nations Photo Lab. Be careful, they will email you a lot so maybe don’t sign up for that mailing list.

Bonus super cute thing you can do with photo prints: put a stamp on them and mail them as a postcard yay!

ARTY BONUS (this works from phones to your 35mm to your DSLR): Have you ever wondered how people take those fun trippy photos with rainbows or double images? Check out a prism or the independently owned Future Eyes wild creations and hold them up to your lens and add new dimensions to your photos!

Molly Adams is an LA-based photographer. You can find documenting life from Afghanistan to Standing Rock to the LA queer nightlife. You can also find her on Instagram.

Molly has written 62 articles for us.