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8 Affordable Gifts You Can Make From Your Photographs

In the first of two articles, I told you all about some of my favorite gifts under $100 that you can get for the photographer(s) in your life. In this second article, I'll tell you about some of my favorite gifts you can make from your photos and give to others. We’ll start with a couple of traditional photo gifts and then move on to some of the newer things you can make or do with your photos.

Probably the most traditional photography gift is a framed print that can be hung on a wall or standing up on a table. You’ve got some options when it comes to the print itself as well as the mounting and framing of it.
 

1. Wall Art - Take a special photo and make hanging art out of it. You have a variety of choices when it comes to making fine-art prints. Along with traditional matte and glossy prints, you can get beautiful fine-art giclée prints made on different types of archival papers. Photographs can also be printed on canvas or metal for a truly unique look.

Divlab canvas gallery wrapCanvas prints are well suited for landscapes, florals, travel, and portraits particularly as the texture of the canvas imparts a painterly look to the print. Canvas prints come in a variety of depths and many arrive ready to hang. I would divide the canvas print vendors into two tiers. You’ve got the cheaper ones like Canvas Discount who offer ridiculous prices on even large canvas printing and still have decent enough quality. But if you really want a special piece of hanging artwork, it’s worth it to go with the higher quality canvas prints offered by places like Diversified Lab, BayPhoto, White House Custom Color, etc. Not only are they higher quality prints themselves, but the materials and workmanship on the stretching and framing are likewise top notch.

Metal prints have taken the photo world by storm over the last 5-10 years. Metal Prints infuse dyes directly into specially coated aluminum panels creating brilliant images that shine with radiant color. The coating acts as a durable barrier against dirt, scratches and harmful UV rays, thus eliminating the need for protective glass or framing. The surface of metal prints beam with such vibrant color and visual depth that they appear nearly 3D. Metal prints do not require any sort of framing and can be purchased with mounting blocks and hanging hardware already installed. I have a number of large metal prints in my home and they never fail to turn heads. If you are looking for a really special print that can light up a room, metal is definitely the way to go.
 

2. Photo Books -  Printed and bound photo books make wonderful keepsake gifts. A great way to collect pictures from a particular event like a wedding, vacation, or milestone like anniversaries and birthday parties. I make one after each major photography trip as a memento and a reminder. These kinds of photo books are available from places like Shutterfly and Blurb among others.

BooksIf you are using Adobe’s Lightroom Classic to manage your photos, there is a Blurb book layout module built into the program. You can use it to curate, assemble, and lay out your entire book without ever leaving Lightroom. Once you have finished your layout, it can be uploaded directly to Blurb and printed on one of six different paper stocks and five different sizes. Bonus tip: If you allow Blurb to add a very small logo on the last page of your book, they will offer you a significant discount off of your total book price. This can really add up with longer books.  And when I say small logo, I’m not kidding. It’s literally the size of my thumb-nail. For most of the books I make, I’m happy to trade off a tiny bit of Blurb branding on the last page for a 15% or more discount on my order!

One other book vendor I want to mention is a place called ZNO (formerly Artisan State) that makes these really gorgeous books with thick, lay-flat pages. Perfect for a wedding album or for showcasing your favorite images. They have a really lovely high quality look and feel to them. If you are looking for an extra special gift, be sure to check out their offerings.
 

Throw3. Unique Photo Gift Items - Websites like BayPhoto, Shutterfly, and Collage now offer a huge variety of gift items imprinted with your photos. These range from mousepads, magnets, and buttons to fleece blankets, playing cards, cell phone cases & chargers, and coffee mugs. Water bottles and stainless steel insulated travel mugs are very popular this year.

Photo ornaments make for lovely holiday gifts as do photo luggage tags. I have a luggage tag my daughter made from one of my carnival photos. It’s like having a tiny metal print attached to my suitcase and that makes it very easy to spot when I get to baggage claim.

Photo cellphone cases for all the popular phone models (iPhone and Samsung Galaxy!) are available from a variety of sources including Shutterfly and Collage.
Be sure to check out the complete listings at each of these websites as they are adding new products every day.
 

4. Jigsaw Puzzles - With so many of us stuck at home for the duration of the global coronavirus pandemic, jigsaw puzzles have soared in popularity. How many times have you looked at one of your photographs and thought to yourself “that would make a great jigsaw puzzle!” There are several companies making high quality custom jigsaw puzzles from your photos.

puzzle1000My two favorites are Venus and Ravensburger. Experienced puzzlers will recognize Ravensburger as one of the better commercial puzzle makers in terms of print quality and how well the puzzles are cut. Venus runs a close second offering well made custom printed puzzles and boxes. Our daughter has given us one for the past several years and we absolutely love doing them.

Puzzles are available in a variety of counts from 100 pieces all the way up to 2,000 pieces. Prices are comparable between the two companies. A 1,000-piece puzzle is $40 from Venus Puzzles and $45 from Ravensburger. The ones from Venus come in a custom printed box. The ones from Ravensburger come in a custom printed tin. 1,000 pieces seems to be the most popular size but if you are giving it to a serious puzzler, you might want to consider 1,500 or 2,000 pieces!
 

Mixtiles5. Mix-Tiles - A relatively new offering in the way of hanging photo prints is something called Mix-Tiles. These 8”x8” affordable framed prints come ready to hang with a non-damaging sticky strip on the back of them. At $11 each, you can get a bunch of them and make your own custom wall arrangement. You can pop them off the wall and replace or re-arrange them at will. According to the manufacturer, you can do this a few dozen times before you’d need to replace the sticky strip. So there’s a lot of flexibility built in from the start. You can upload photos from your computer or from your social media accounts like Facebook and Instagram. Orders ship in about a week.
 

usa states.2 big hero6. Photo Maps - A company called Thunder Bunny Labs (great name, right?) has some fabulous specialty photo prints based on various national and state maps. You’ll find national ones for the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and All Seven Continents along with state ones for all 50 U.S. states. They even have a few map frames based on Football, Baseball, Basketball and Hockey stadiums, as well as a National Parks one, all customizable with your own text.

Load them up with your own images and make one of a kind gifts. These map prints/frames are a great way to document your travels with pictures. Show all the places you have been to or feature your own state with a single image. The photo maps are available with and without framing. All products ship within 2 days of ordering, but beware that delivery times may get longer as the holidays approach.
 

7. Digital Photo Frames - One of my wife’s absolute favorite holiday gifts from the last few years has been the Nixplay LED Digital Picture frame we gave her in 2017. These devices display a running slideshow of digital photographs that can be loaded directly into the frame or sent to it remotely over the internet from the Nixplay website or mobile phone app. Our daughter who lives in another state has a link to send pictures directly to the frame and we get to enjoy new photos of our grandson as soon as she posts them. A marvel of modern technology!

NixplayThe unit we have includes a remote control and a built-in motion sensor that will turn the display off if there’s no activity in the room. The Nixplay can display the pictures in order or shuffle them randomly including a variety of transitions between each image. The quality is very good and you can adjust both brightness and color temperature on the display to suit your tastes.

Set up is fairly easy. Just connect it to your in-home wireless network and set up an account at the Nixplay website using either their free mobile app or your computer’s web browser. Once you’ve connected your picture frame to your account, you can start loading it up with photos from your computer or from your social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, and Google Photos.

These come in several sizes and colors. We have the 13.3” “seed” model, but they make them in larger sizes and higher resolution screens. You can even create different playlists and choose which one to display depending on your mood. A really fantastic give for family members or friends who you might wish to share photos with on a regular basis.
 

8. DIY Photo Greeting Cards - For many years now, my wife and I have been making our own photo greetings cards and giving them out as gifts or using them in place of store-bought ones.

cardThey couldn’t be easier to make and assemble. We start with a batch of 4”x6” glossy photo prints from Costco or our local pro photo lab. Using double-sided scrapbook tape, we adhere them to blank card stock. We are particularly fond of the ivory and/or white colored greeting card blanks from Strathmore papers that come with a deckled (i.e. “torn”) edge. These are available in packs of 10, 25, 50, or 100 cards with matching envelopes. The deckled edges are also offered in a number of bold colors like red, green, and blue along with the plain ones.

Check your local art and scrapbooking stores or find them online. Be sure to compare prices when online shopping as we have found there to be a wide variety of prices between the different websites. Amazon, Art Supplies Online, and Cheap Joes all have good deals on 50 and 100 packs of cards and envelopes.

If you are giving them as a gift, consider putting them together as curated card sets by theme. I’ve got one that is full of pictures from my various road trips across the USA. It’s got diners and highways and old cars and motels. I’ve got another that is all florals and plants and another that is Venetian carnivale masks. The possibilities are endless!
One year I took a series of photos of the various Santa and holiday figures that populate my mother-in-law’s Christmas village decorations. I made a card set out of the images and gave them to her as a gift for the holidays that year. Imagine my delight when I received one from her a year later as a xmas card! I make a new set for her every couple of years so she has a fresh supply! You are limited only by your imagination.

If you really want to get fancy, you can order card boxes with clear lids to package them in. Or you can tie a stack of cards and envelopes together with a colored ribbon and give them as a bundle.

10 Affordable Gifts For Your Favorite Photographer

As we get closer to the holiday season, I'm getting more and more requests for photo related gift ideas so I thought I'd put together a guide with some of my top picks.

In the first of two articles, I'll tell you about some of my favorite gifts under $100 that you can get for the photographer(s) in your life. In the second article, I'll tell you about some of my favorite gifts you can make from your photos and give to others.

Crystal ball1. Crystal "Lens" Ball ($17 for the 80mm size) - Let's start with something really fun and also affordable, a crystal ball for photography! "Lensballs", as they are commerically known, have grown in popularity over the last several years. By placing a crystal ball between your camera and your subject, you can capture all sorts of fun spherical images within the glass. It's almost like putting your subject inside a snow globe! These crystal balls are availalbe in a variety of sizes ranging from a small marble size all the way up to large 150mm versions. (Fair warning, the bigger crystal balls can get a bit heavy to lug around all day!) For me, the sweet spot is somewhere around 80mm. Not too large and not too small. And while the original "Lensball"-branded version retails for somewhere around $40-50, you can find an identical crystal ball from Amlong on Amazon for $17. It comes with a small crystal stand you can rest the ball on if you don't want to hold it in your hand. I frequently place the crystal ball and little stand on top of a tripod and then shoot through it. I have purchased several different sizes of the Amlong crystal balls and been completely satisfied with all of them.

While we are on the subject of optical glass toys, you might also consider getting a classic prism for creating rainbows of color in your photographs. Amazon carries this type of prism complete with a screw mount and built in stand for $20.

The last piece of fun optical glass I want to tell you about is called a dichroic prism or RGB dispersion prism and it splits light into its component CMY/RGB colors depending on which orientation is facing the light. $16 from Amazon.

 

Platypod Max2. Platypod Max ($99) - The Platypod is a unique "tripod" solution for mounting your camera in difficult locations. This metal plate is made of sturdy aircraft aluminum and comes equipped with mounting holes, slots for straps, and a standard screw-mount for a tripod head. It also comes with a set of screw-in feet you can use to level or angle the base. (The feet are rubber tipped or metal spiked depending on which end you put down.) The Platypod works incredibly well if you are trying to get your camera as low as possible without actually setting it in the dirt or water. Many tripods have a limit as to just how low they can go even with the center column inverted or the legs spread out to their widest. The Platypod gets even lower and does so with an incredibly small footprint. The strap slots on the sides make it possible to securely mount your camera on a fencepost, tree, or utility pole. It's also great for shooting in situations where tripods are not allowed or where there just isn't room for a regular tripod. I keep finding new ways to use this thing! The "max" version is designed for heavier DSLRs and large lenses, while the smaller "ultra" version is better suited for compact cameras and lightweight DSLRs.

 

KUVRDsmall3. KUVRD Universal Lens Caps ($55 for a four-pack bundle - 2 mini and 2 magnum) - These weather resistent, strechy rubber lens covers are available in two sizes (Magnum size fits 72mm - 122mm lenses, while the Micro fits 54mm - 76mm). The manufacturer claims it will fit 99% of all available lenses. The Universal Lens Cap prevents water, mud, and the finest dust and sand from scratching & mucking up your lens.

I received a set of these as a birthday gift a few years back and quickly fell in love with them. They are now on all my lenses. I like having that extra bit of protection when I put my lenses in a bag or case with other gear or have to set it down during an outdoor shoot. They are easy to put on or take off a lens and the latest version has a small white "X" in the middle that you can color in with a marker to help distinguish each of your lenses from the others. They also come with a lifetime guarantee. Any issues, and KUVRD will replace it for free, forever.

 

EverBrite4. EverBrite Red LED Headlamp ($17) - A great gift for any astronomy or night photographer. If you've ever tried to capture the stars or milky way at night, you probably noticed that your eyesight gets better and better the longer you are in the dark. This allows you to see fainter objects in the night sky as your vision adapts to the darkness. But if you turn on a regular flashlight to see your camera settings or the environment around you, you'll lose that dark adaptation immediately and will have to wait for your eyes to adjust again to the darkness. Using a red LED light instead of a white one will allow you to see your camera without ruining your dark-adpated eyesight. There are a number of different red LED lights available, but I like this one because it's in headlamp form which means you can keep both hands free to work the camera. It also has different brightness levels so you can set it to provide dimmer or brighter light.

 

HoodmanLoupe5. Hoodman Loupe Viewfinder/Sunshade ($90) - This optical glass viewfinder/magnifier allows you to see the back of your camera's screen even in the brightest daylight. The viewer has a diopter adjustment for correcting focus for your eyesight. (Great for those of us with corrected vision!) It's an essential tool for for exposure and focus checking while in the field, it can help you see if you really got perfect focus on your subject. Comes with a lanyard for wearing around your neck and a case to store it in.

 

BWviewingfilter6. Tiffen B&W Viewing Filter ($71) - This monochrome viewing filter is actually for your eyes and not for your camera. The viewer eliminates almost all color from what you are looking at, leaving you with an entirely monochromatic view. (It's actually sort of amber colored and not quite black and white.) This can be an incredibly helpful tool in visualizing how a color scene will be captured in black and white. I first learned about it from the late great B&W  photographer Jack Curran who always carried one with him. It's a great way to develop and improve your ability to "see" in black and white.

 

Breakthrough10Stop7. Breakthrough 10-Stop Neutral Density Filter ($100) - This 10-stop ND filter will allow a photographer to capture very long exposures even in bright daylight without being blown out. Neutral Density filters are a bit like sunglasses for a camera. They cut the amount of light getting into the lens without changing the overall color of the picture. (That's the "neutral" part.)This means the shutter can stay open much longer allowing a photographer to capture silky smooth waterfalls or clouds streaking across the sky or car light-trails.

This 10-stop Neutral Density from Breakthrough has almost no color cast at all and is made from very high quality optics and coatings. Available in a variety of diameters, it also comes in a 6-stop and 3-stop model. The filter comes with a 25 year guarantee against defects in the coating or glass.

 

LEDpanel sm8. Neewer Dimable LED Light Panel ($23) - A powerful, portable, dimmable LED light source photographers can toss in their bag and take anywhere for quick lighting of a subject. Powered by either AA bateries, or can be adapted to work with Pansonic and Sony rechargable battery packs. The light panel has a knob on the side allowing you to dial up or down the overall intensity of the light to get just the right amount of output. The light also comes with two insertable diffusion filters for modifying the light. One is frosted white and the other orange for warming up your subject. This little light is great for photo or video. It can be hand held, mounted on a camera hot-shoe, or on a stand. I use this any time I need to place a light in a small space or when I can't bring along a lot of equipment.

 

Neewer5 in 1 reflector9. 5-in-1 Portable Reflector/Diffuser ($26) - The Swiss Army Knife of portable light modifiers. No photographer should be without one of these affordable, collapsable reflector/diffusers. Use the gold side to warm up a picture. Use the silver to brighten it. The white can be used to reflect light into the shadow areas and the black can be used to block out unwanted light. The translucent scrim/diffuser pane can be used to soften the light. This version even comes with convenient handle grips for easy use by a photographer or assistant. An easy way for a photographer to expand their lighting options massively without spending a lot of money on equipment.

 

Photopills use10. Photopills app for iPhone or Android ($10) - If I had to pick a single mobile phone application for photographers, Photopills would be the one. Described as a tool for planning photoshoots, Photopills can give you geolocated information aboud sunrise and sunset, moonrise, and moonset, golden hour and blue hour for exactly where you are or where you are going to be. This allows you to plan what time to arrive, where the sun will be setting or moon rising, and plan your shot with much more precision. There is an "Augented Reality" viewer that will let you see where the various astronomical objects will appear in your scene. The app also includes a host of other useful functions like exposure calculators for using neutral density filters or ones for planning star-trails in astrophotography. There are depth of field calculators, hyperfocal distance calculators, and more. Even ones for doing time lapse. It's an incredibly useful and funcational app. You get a lot of value for $10!

Amazon disclaimer:
Jeff Hirsch Photography is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. In plain Engish, that means this website gets commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

"Moments In Time" video featured on Petapixel.com

About five years ago I put together an inspirational short film for photographers called "Moments In Time". It showcases 550 pictures in sixty seconds and is meant as an expression of why I love photography so much. It is a call to action for photographers to embrace the power of stopping time.

The film was originally created as a Short Essay submission for the annual competition held by the St. Louis Camera Club. I decided it might be enjoyed by more than just the members of the club, so one morning in February of 2015, I quietly shared it to the photograpy group over at reddit.com and went to work for the day. I did not anticipate much in the way of a response and was more than a little surprised when my mailbox started blowing up later in the day with responses to the video.

What I didn't know at the time was that somebody at Petapixel had noticed my post on reddit and decided to write about it for the popular photography website. (Now we know where their writers get some of their story ideas!)

You can imagine my surprise when I started getting email later that day from people as far away as Israel and Australia telling me how much they were inspiried by my little film. When I wrote back asking them how they found it (I assumed they saw it on reddit or via a YouTube search) they told me they read an article on Petapixel about it. Sure enough there it was in black and white on their website.

What's In My Bag? Part 1 - The Camera Bag

CameraBag

As a travel and street photographer, people are always telling me I should do a “what’s in my bag” post, so I thought I’d take a crack at it.

I’m breaking this is to two completely separate posts. First I’ll do one for my camera bag and then one for my computer bag.

We will start with the heaviest “standard” load-out I carry and work our way down to a smaller kit for when I want to travel light and not be encumbered by a lot of gear.

IMG 3637My main “go” bag is a ThinkTank Speed Racer v2.0 and it holds a LOT of gear. Everything you see in this picture except the tripod will fit in that one bag. For real.

Going from left to right and top to bottom (approximately) I carry the following:

1. Phottix Strato II Multi Radio triggers - Simple, affordable, radio triggers for my Canon camera and flash. Multi-channel and multi group capable but otherwise nothing fancy. Allows me to remote trigger a speed-light (or three) for off-camera flash.

2. Canon 580EXII Flash - Your standard issue Canon hot-shoe flash. I find this model to be in the affordable sweet spot between the underpowered 430EX and the overpriced 600EX.

3. FEISOL Tournament 3442 Tripod - I wanted carbon fiber and I didn’t want to pay a king’s ransom for it. The FEISOL is half the price of the equivalent Gitzo and it has been rock solid reliable since the day I got it. The thing weights all of 2.51 pounds without the head. One of the best investments I’ve ever made in my photo equipment.

4. Circular Polarizing Filters (72 & 77 mm) - CPL filters for both of my most frequently used lenses. Great for sea and sky shots. Filters may or may not match their case brands.

5. 10-Stop Neutral Density Filters (72 & 77 mm) - 10 Stop ND filters for both of my most frequently used lenses. Great for long exposure shots. Filters may or may not match their case brands.

6. KORA SD Card Wallet - Holds 12 SD cards snugly in rubber slots. Waterproof, floats, and is fairly robust and drop resistant. SD Cards - An assortment of sizes ranging from 32Gb to 128Gb. All are 95mb/sec or faster and all come from name brands. I’ve had enough hassles with discount memory to waste my time with it.

7. X-Rite Colorchecker Passport - For perfect camera calibration and white balance every dang time. My color checker and my camera are rarely separated. Contains a large 18% grey neutral card along with the classic 24 swatch Gretag-Macbeth color checker chart for generating camera calibration profiles.

8. Canon 7d mkII Camera - Everybody has their own opinion on which camera to buy and I’m not going anywhere near that debate. Just get a body you like and invest in some good glass and have at it. Do not get stressed about gear! There, that’s my big camera review.

For a few years now, I’ve been shooting with Canon’s 7d Mark II body, possibly the best APS-C camera Canon has built. It’s rugged, shoots action, sports, and nature at 10 frames a second along with every other subject I throw at it. Huge library of lenses available from both Canon and the third party makers like Sigma and Tamron. It’s reliable and affordable.

Honestly, I can’t believe how many people I come across who are shocked, SHOCKED I tells ya, that I don’t shoot with a full frame camera. Or a mirrorless camera. Or some other perceived newer or better model. And for me, it’s never really been about the gear. It’s always been about the vision. I can make the kind of images I want to make with pretty much any decent modern dSLR, so I’m happy to have pretty much anything that serves my needs. This body certainly does that for me so I’m not in any rush to get something new!

And yet I’m also aware that the time is coming when I will choose to move to a new body simply because technology really has gotten that much better since my camera was first released. And when the time is right, I’ll make that leap forward.

9. Really Right Stuff L-bracket (mounted on camera body) - Arca Swiss style mounting bracket for RRS head. Easily flips from landscape to portrait orientation. Has openings that allow access to all the ports on the side of the camera. Even comes with a built in Allen wrench for installing and uninstalling.

10. Sigma 18-300mm lens - My “walking around” lens. Covers the entire range from wide to super zoom. Great for street and travel photography particularly when your distance from the subject is frequently changing in a hurry and you don’t have time to swap lenses.

11. Canon 24-105mm “L-glass” Lens - An all time classic lens. f4 throughout its entire range. Sharp, with gorgeous color and contrast. My favorite for portraits. The rubber lens covers you see over this and the 18-300 are KUVRD universal lens caps. They were a gift from a photo friend and I have come to love them for keeping my lens caps on while the lenses are in my bag.

12. Sigma 8-16mm lens - My widest angle lens. Great for getting the most out of a tight space. This is the lens I use for all my VR photography because it goes super-wide without being a fish-eye. It maintains a rectangular projection, even at 8mm.

13. Canon wireless remote - Takes up no space at all and has come in handy a surprising number of times!

14. Hot-shoe bubble level - Useful for architecture and real estate photos where level horizons and geometry are critical.

15. Really Right Stuff Pano Rig

16. Really Right Stuff Tripod Head - BH30 Ball head. Every bit of it made in the USA. Like the Feisol, worth every penny I paid for it. Incredible design, precision machining, highest quality materials.

17. Canon Battery Charger

18. 5 Spare batteries (+1 in the camera) - I always keep a fistful of charged batteries in my bag. I’ve got six total. Two are Canon brand. Two are Wasabi Power, an affordable and reliable third party, and two more are Energizer brand. They work fine but aren’t quite as long lasting as the other four.

That’s my standard load-out where I have the luxury of carrying a fair amount of gear. The only thing I regularly carry that isn’t pictured here is my Black Rapid Sport camera strap. I typically sling my camera with that but sometimes I’ll switch it out for a Spyder Holster if the situation calls for it. I’ve got an Arca Swiss adapter for the Spyder that will mount to the L-bracket on my camera so I don’t really have to fuss with switching systems at all. Just clamp and go with either the Black Rapid or the Spyder.

IMG 3638When I want to travel light, I go with a much simpler rig that still affords me a lot of function and flexibility. I have a smaller lumbar bag made by Mountainsmith that I absolutely love. Maybe my favorite "day bag" ever.

For my lighter load-out, I’ll carry:

Canon 7dmkII Camera with 18-300 Sigma attached
Sigma 8-16
FEISOL Tripod with RRS Head attached
2 batteries
Card Wallet
ND Filter
Colorchecker Passport
Canon Remote

And that’s it.

This fits in a much smaller bag with room to spare. Much less of a literal pain in the neck.

Best of all, I still have enough flexibility to capture the great majority of the scenes I am likely to be presented with but I don’t have to carry the whole studio on my back. Honestly, the more gear I can leave at home, the happier I am taking pictures in the field.

Coming next: What’s In My Bag? Part 2 - The Computer Bag

Photographing St. Louis from the MLK Bridge

A watercolor rendering of the STL skyline

20200702 JLH5613 HDRThe Martin Luther King, Jr. Bridge, which connects St. Louis, MO with East St. Louis, IL has been under construction for the last 18 months.

Because the bridge is closed to auto traffic and is easily accessible from either side of the river, it has become a favorite hot-spot for sunset pictures this summer as many local photographers have discovered the wonderful vantage point that can be gained by walking out on the bridge and looking back at the city from somewhere in the middle of the mighty Mississippi River.

20200702 JLH5864 HDRAfter seeing any number of great skyline shots in my friends’ facebook and instagram feeds, I knew I had to get out there and make my own captures while the bridge was still open to foot traffic and I had a chance to stand in such an amazing place to shoot.

When a fellow photographer phoned me up in late July to invite me out to photograph with him and some other friends, I jumped at the chance to do it. With masks in place, we walked out onto the bridge about 30 minutes before sunset and ended up staying for close to three hours watching and shooting as the light shifted from day to twilight to dusk to night as the city came alive with lights and nighttime colors.

Anne on the bridgeI’ve now been out to shoot from the bridge on a couple of different evenings including one that had a rapidly moving summer storm come through just after sunset. I have to say it was pretty magical and I plan to go back again soon!

I’ve shot the skyline from any number of vantage points over the years, including from the other bridges and from Malcom Martin park which sits directly across from the Arch on the Illinois side. but I have to say this is quickly becoming one of my favorite positions from which to shoot my home town.

It’s been so wonderful to see St. Louis from this beautiful and unique point of view. The bridge isn’t scheduled to re-open until some time in September, so I’m hoping to get out there for one or two more shooting opportunities.

opened.jpgUPDATE: I just got news from another photographer that the bridge has been re-opened. It's the end of a great photo opportunity and one I'm glad I jumped on when I had the chance.

Despite the fact that we have all been shooting from nearly identical positions along the south side of the bridge, I have seen so many different interpretations of the scene. It's always a treat to see how different people interpet the same scene.


Did you take any photographs on the MLK bridge this summer? I’d love to see them!
Tag @jeffhirschphotography in your instagram and facebook posts.

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