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Best Gifts For Portrait Photographers

In this post we look at some ideas for the best gifts for portrait photographers for a range of budgets with recommendations for which photography equipment they would probably love to get. We also discuss different types of portrait photography styles and the best lenses for portraits, explore lighting equipment and have some inspirational links and video tutorials to watch too. So whether you are looking for a Christmas gift, birthday present or simply a ‘thank you’ gift read on.

Best gift ideas for portrait photographers

Table of contents

Different types of portrait photography

Incredible Nikon Noct lens portrait

We briefly mention different types of portrait photography as it might influence which gift you purchase. A studio photographer might want something totally different from a street photographer for example. If you are unsure, a gift voucher is the quickest and easiest as it allows them to choose for themselves and keep an eye out for our Black Friday deals to get some of these and many other photo gear special offers.

  1. Traditional Portraits - Generally traditional portraits are made in a studio with a photography backdrop using artificial, controlled lighting.
  2. Lifestyle Portraits - Lifestyle portraits are not posed in the traditional sense and normally taken outside of the studio. For example a family interacting in a field of flowers at sunset.
  3. Environmental Portraits - In environmental portrait photography the surroundings support the person who is the subject. For example a portrait of a chef standing in their kitchen.
  4. Candid, documentary and street portraits - These are made without direction or posing, without the photographer influencing the subject. There’s a growing enthusiasm for this as the most alternative style of portraiture.
  5. Glamour and boudoir photography - Staged portraits which are intended to highlight the subject’s beauty whilst wearing lingerie or nude

Studio Portrait courtesy of Hannah Couzens

Studio Portrait courtesy of Hannah Couzens

Best buys under £50 for portrait photographers

Anyone who loves taking pictures of people will be grateful for a photography accessory which makes their passion easier and more fun. These gift ideas under £50 will put a smile on anyone’s face and make ideal Christmas or birthday present.

A modern photo frame perfect for displaying their images. Why not browse all of our photo frames here as we have lots of different sizes and styles to choose from.

A reflector is perfect for removing shadows on the subject’s face and can be used indoors or outdoors, with lighting or with natural light. They make a huge difference and don’t need batteries!

This accessory creates an indirect softbox or large light dome effect which is useful for anyone who uses a flashgun or lighting stand for their portraits.

Every photographer always needs more memory cards and this one is fast, reliable and a bargain, and is compatible with most DSLR or mirrorless cameras.

This might sound a bit dull, but ZEISS are makers of some of the finest lenses in the world and a clean lens means a more beautiful portrait!

These clever coloured accessories slot into a flashgun accessory for creative photography and for balancing colour in a studio situation. A bright, fun and useful present.

Happy portrait image

What every portrait photographer would love for under £200

This clever camera calibration system helps the photographer to get the right colours for their portrait in any type of lighting situation. They probably don’t know they want this, but it is a lifesaver for the regular studio photographer and they will appreciate this gift.

This brilliant soft box kit creates soft, uniform lighting for a portrait and is excellent value for money too.

If the portrait photographer in your life shoots images away from the studio they would love this compact and lightweight photo stand for on-the-go shoots. It is a timeless classic and deservedly so.

Any studio photographer needs a background system and this one from Lastolite holds paper, vinyl and curtains, so it really is versatile and durable. Why not pair it with the paper below for a complete set.

This is a brilliant paper background for studio portrait photographers. You can never have enough paper backgrounds for the studio.

If your gift recipient doesn’t have a printer, this all in one is compact and prints beautiful photographs which they will cherish forever and it can do lots of other clever stuff too.

This SD memory card fits most cameras and is blisteringly quick with a huge capacity so the photographer can keep on making portraits without stopping to change cards.

Posed portrait image

Gifts over £200 budget

Well this is a favourite category for any lucky photographer and depending on which style they enjoy shooting, one of these could make a gift which they will use throughout their entire time making portraits.

What does every portrait photographer need? A way of editing their images of course! This is a portable creative tablet which is perfect for photo editing and the best bit is they can use it from anywhere and includes software so they can begin straight away.

This is the latest photo printer from Canon and wow can it print beautiful, large images which will stop people in their tracks, a serious professional printer that creates stunning results.

This flash for Canon DSLR cameras is incredible for on or off camera lighting. For all other compatible brands visit our flashgun department. If the photographer doesn’t have a flash it could make an excellent present.

This amazing kit lets your photographer get out and shoot creative portraits from anywhere so it gets them out of the house and happy!

This complete background kit is a nifty gift for any portrait photographer with a large room or studio available to them who enjoys more traditional portraiture.

This new 3 Light Kit is ideal for portraits in and out of a studio making it extremely versatile and we thoroughly recommend it for general photography as well as portraits.

Street photography portrait

Best lenses for portrait photography

We think that the ultimate gift for a portrait photographer is a new appropriate lens for the style of portraits they love to make. Lenses are the best way to expand a photography passion, thanks to the ability to enjoy composing images with a new focal width. When buying a lens as a present (lucky recipient) we recommend thinking about which type of portrait they most enjoy making. Of course there is an overlap between styles, so for the best all round lens choose a telephoto zoom or standard 50mm lens. Zooms will allow most flexibility and prime (fixed length) lenses are typically the best quality. A final consideration is the brighter the aperture, the better for isolating the subject. This means more expensive and heavier lenses are typically the brightest, for example an f/1.2 or f/1.4 is bright whereas an f/4 is not quite as bright. The models listed here range from £100 to £3000.

Wide angle lenses are best for:

  • Environmental portraits
  • Street portraits
  • Documentary / candid portraits

Standard prime lenses are best for:

  • Street portraits
  • Classic portraits in the studio
  • Documentary / candid portraits
  • General portraits

Telephoto lenses are best for

  • Classic portraits
  • Lifestyle portraits

Below is a table with links to some of the best lenses for portraits from various focal lengths and for all of the major camera brands, including excellent third party lens manufacturers.

Lens brand

Wide Angle

Standard prime


Canon DSLR (EF)

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM

Canon mirrorless (RF)

Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 macro

Canon RF 50mm lens f/1.2 L USM

Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM

Sony E

Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 Lens

Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Zeiss Sonnar T* Lens

Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS


FUJINON XF 27mm f/2.8

Fujifilm XF 35mm f1.4

Fujifilm XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS


Leica Summilux TL 35mm F/1.4 ASPH Lens 

Leica Vario-Elmar-T 18-56mm

 Leica APO-Vario-Elmar-T 55-135mm

Nikon DSLR (F)

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G

AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G

Nikon mirrorless (Z)

Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S

Nikon Z 50mm f/1.2 S

Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S


Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f/1.8

Panasonic Lumix (full frame)

Panasonic S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 L-Mount

Panasonic Lumix 50mm F/1.4 S Pro L mount

Panasonic Lumix S 85mm


Sigma 35mm Art lens Canon EF mount

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens L Mount

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Sony E


Zeiss Touit 32mm F/1.8 Planar T* Lens Sony E

Zeiss Milvus 50mm F/1.4 Distagon T* ZE Canon EF

Zeiss Batis 85mm lens in Sony E-mount

The very pinnacle of portrait lenses from each brand. We recently added a new post which may be of interest here; why use a 35mm lens.

Much like car manufacturers camera and lens companies produce extremely low run lenses which are designed to demonstrate their technical expertise. These handful of exquisite lenses are the very pinnacle of technology available to the lucky few.

Video tutorials and portrait tips

Just for learning fun here are a couple of portrait photography tips videos from our very own Gareth Evans.

35mm vs 85mm Lenses. Which one is best for portraits?

Shooting Portraits with a Telephoto Lens (70 200mm)

Further reading and inspiration

For advice on any gifts for the photographer in your life please do contact our helpful staff and they will be able to work with you within your budget to find the perfect gift.

This is part of a series of buying guides with ideas for the best gifts for nature and bird photographers and best equipment buys for working from home as well as our buying guide with Photography Gifts For The Whole Family to suit a range of budgets and the latest edition: Ultimate Best Buys For Street Photography.


By Nick Dautlich on 11/11/2020

Trade in your old equipment

Fast and easy trade in service ensures your old gear is collected efficiently and you are paid quickly! It's very simple to trade in your unwanted photography gear. Just head over to our dedicated Sell or Part Exchange page, fill out the details, and we'll get back to you with an offer for your old gear. Take the cash, or put it towards the cost of your new gear. It's up to you! Find out more