6 Office Conveniences That Will Make Your Life Easier as a Photographer

6 Office Conveniences That Will Make Your Life Easier as a Photographer

We spend a lot of time discussing camera gear and the like, but given the amount of time we spend at our computers for our work, it is also worth talking about ways to make our lives easier in our office, whether that is at home or in a dedicated studio. Here are six things that make my office life easier and more enjoyable.

Fast Internet (Particularly the Upload)

You have probably noticed that consumer broadband (DSL and cable) connections have much faster download speeds than upload. In the case of DSL, this is a choice, as the phone company can only allocate so much bandwidth in both directions and they know that most consumers consume more content than they push out, while in the case of cable, it is a design limitation. For me (and I suspect many other creatives), however, this has always been really frustrating. According to my router stats, I upload about 2-3 TB a year, a lot of that from backing up my photos and videos to the cloud. 

Up until last year, I was stuck with a pretty standard cable internet package; the fastest I could get was a 100/10 Mbps connection, which equates to a maximum upload speed of 1.25 MBps. In other words, when I would come home from something like a graduation shoot with a couple thousand files, it would take over a day to back them up and would totally saturate the upload side of the connection for anyone or anything else trying to use it in the house. 

Last year, I lucked out when our city's first fiber company decided to make my building one of their test sites for residential fiber, and I now have a symmetrical 1,000/1,000 Mbps connection, boosting my upload speed to 125 MBps. Even my largest multi-thousands-image shoots only take about an hour to back up, and I never slow down the connection for anyone else in my house. 

Of course, not everyone has the option of a fiber connection, but my point here is to shop your options and not just settle with whatever default connection your default cable company gives you. 

A Good Office Chair

Given how much time a lot of us spend at our computers, it is really crucial both for your comfort and your long-term health to have a quality chair. A good office chair is often about $500-700, and while that is certainly not a cheap investment, they tend to last a decade or more and are well worth the improvement in your comfort and the benefits to your health. I actually ended up purchasing an ergonomic professional gaming chair; these are often just as good as an office chair, and they tend to go on sale more often, especially around Black Friday. In fact, I managed to get my chair on sale for $300, when it normally goes for around $500. It's incredibly comfortable and really promotes proper posture. 

UPS

A UPS (uninterrupted power supply) is essentially a large battery in tandem with a power strip and surge protector. In addition to giving you standard surge protection, it also protects your equipment in the event of a power failure, with the battery giving you enough time to shut down your devices safely or even continue working for a little bit. I personally use the APC Power-Saving Back-UPS Pro 1500. It gives me about 45 minutes of uptime if the power goes out, and it can even automatically and safely shut down my computer if the power goes out and I am not around to take control. Another great feature is its ability to smooth out variations in voltage to provide more consistent power to your electronics, which is good for their long-term stability. 

Mini Fridge

I tend to work in long spurts where I am pretty deeply concentrated, and I also tend to drink a lot of Diet Coke. I have a tiny mini fridge on my desk that holds six cans and uses very little power, plus it is just massively convenient. If you work in a dedicated studio, it can be even more convenient to at least get a normal mini fridge, plus it can save you a lot of money if you bring your own meals, etc.

Proper Lighting

The first thing I did to my office was fix the lighting. It is a converted second bedroom with a pretty standard ceiling fan with three lights attached to it, which is fine for a bedroom, but pretty blah for an office. It also cast some pretty annoying shadows across my computer desk in the corner. First, I got rid of the very yellow bulbs. I replaced them with Hue White Ambiance bulbs. Full-color Hue bulbs are pretty cool, but they are not really necessary and are quite expensive (normally around $60 a bulb). Meanwhile, the Hue White Ambiance bulbs are about a third of the price and are also LEDs, meaning they use less power and last much longer than a normal incandescent bulb. They are fully dimmable and have a variable color temperature from a crisp white to very warm yellow, almost orange. Lastly, they are compatible with all major smart home assistants. Take time to add a lamp or two and proper bulbs; the change is ambiance and working conditions can make a big difference in your enjoyment using the space. Being able to dial in a cooler light makes a big difference for me.

Proper Headphones and Speakers

Most of us like to listen to music or audiobooks or watch movies while we edit and the like. A good set of speakers or headphones can be a really nice way to add to your comfort in your office. You do not need to go into audiophile territory; even just a $50 or $100 set of speakers can be a nice upgrade over your monitor's built-in speakers. I personally use Sony WH1000XM3 noise-canceling headphones. They have fantastic sound quality and are very comfortable to wear, plus I can take them with me. The best feature, though, is the class-leading noise-canceling. They can make it almost uncomfortably silent, which really helps me concentrate.

How About You?

What makes your office life easier or more enjoyable? Tell me in the comments! 

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30 Comments

Just me's picture

[troll]
If you are planning on getting a Canon R5 or R6 Camera.
A mini fridge is a must have.
Also, no need for coffee machine or microwave, the camera body can help cooking anything.
And if you need to iron a shirt prior to the big meeting with your client, it can also help you getting done!
[/troll]

Boy W Camera's picture

That is kind of funny.

The mini fridge sounds good and I could keep warm cans of Coke Zero nearby to handily restock it.

I would not have to deal with the big boy fridge and pantry in the kitchen, which is an abomination to me.

Even thought of putting the espresso machine closer, not fifteen meters away.

Home Depot $59.95 delivered

Zero 4.2 qt./0.14 cu. ft. 6 Can AC/DC Mini Cooler/Mini Fridge without Freezer in Black

I bet you can adjust the temperature and really chill those bad boys down.

Just me's picture

You need to drill a hole to get the lens out and a 12V battery on your back.
Now, the R5 is a monster!

Arvydas Kumpis's picture

I would add 'enough space on the table'!

Alexander Petrenko's picture

+ monitor arm (attached to that table). It adds immense amount of space to a table, which was taken by monitor stand before.

John Adams's picture

Nah, I'm sure the little energy-wasting fridge and racing/gaming chair are more important things
to increase productivity than things like an arm for a monitor. In fact it's even better to put that fridge right before your monitor so that you get instant super fast access to that sugary drink for even more increased productivity.

Alex Cooke's picture

Great point. I got an extra deep desk, and it made a huge difference.

James Bridle's picture

I got my chair from Secret Labs and its been great for me, my back and the overall look of the office space! Its an expensive buy but there's more expensive out there im sure! Nice article mate :) *Thumbs up

John Adams's picture

I don't see how any of these help but okay :) Actually these are things that will make your life easier if you're a gamer..

James Bridle's picture

What makes sitting in front of the PC/Mac gaming any different to sitting for long periods editing a wedding, portrait shoot, festival or other? Asking for a friend.

John Adams's picture

Well if you're lazybones nothing will make your life more comfortable, so you're right in that respect. Either way if you're so lazy that you can't get up to get your sugary soda from the fridge and you need a mini-fridge in close proximity to your computer then nothing will make your life better. It's actually kind of a sad thing. Also that chair is silly. I don't know why a photographer needs a racing-looking chair, pretty cringe, but whatever, as you say :) like I said before, those are more gamery things..

James Bridle's picture

If having good lighting and decent enough headphones makes you lazy, I guess im lazy!?

Good light, good audio making your experience editing large amounts of data easier, having a comfy chair that helps with correct posture while editing, not having to break too long (or get distracted while your up getting said soda or healthy alternative) because theres a fridge close by. Are all things id want as a photographer editing. Im sure the author of this wasn't intending people to go out and buy a racing chair for Lightroom edits. haha

Alex Cooke's picture

Never been called lazy because I like Diet Coke and use a chair before, but there's a first time for everything, I guess!

Wes Perry's picture

I don’t see how any of these things would Not help. Did we read the same article?

John Adams's picture

Those are just generic things anybody can buy and not limited to photography ffs.. you need a chair to sit in front of a computer to do work?? As a photographer I never knew that I needed a chair, I have always been standing up editing photos. You need a fridge to cool your drinks? Mind blowing stuff buddy..

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Nobody said these things were "limited" to photography, ffs.

No duh, you need a chair. They bring up the type of chair. smh

Wes Perry's picture

I wouldn’t personally recommend that UPS for two reasons:
1) it has a measly 354 joules of surge protection, which is essentially none at all
2) it uses a “stepped sine wave” instead of “simulated sine” or “pure sine” AC topology. This can, over the long term, result in damage to the power supplies / premature failure of your electronics plugged into it.

Alex Cooke's picture

That's a great point, Wes. Thank you!

Nitin Chandra's picture

The main stuff is totally missing...Cigarettes and booze...With a smoking area :P

Robert Nurse's picture

Having an UPS is almost a must. Not only does it keep you up and running for a few more minutes in a black out, it delivers "clean" current to its battery circuits. In homes there are always sags when large appliances (central air, refrigerator, dryer, etc.) spin up. The UPS will deliver constant current to your PC.

Les Sucettes's picture

Must be an American thing to need a UPS. No blackouts where I come from

Mike Dochterman's picture

no one has ever hit a power pole? no lightening strikes? no failed relays?

Vladimir Vcelar's picture

A coffee machine. My wife is fed up making her lazy husband a fresh cuppa everytime!

Gregory Mills's picture

I consider a good storage system for your gear a must. I keep my gear in 5 Pelican cases with the most used ones open all the time on a wall of shelves. My tether cart is a Craftsman rolling tool chest with a dedicated laptop on the top and a TeatherTools arm mounted on the side for my camera. Everything has its place and I can stand in the middle of the room and see all my gear at once to know if something is out of place. Everything is easy to access and the Pelican cases are always packed and ready to go, yet always open so I can pull my most used equipment out to use it at anytime in an instant without even opening the cases.

Les Sucettes's picture

The best way to keep working is to have a well ventilated place with Fresh air. If you’re in a city you may want to invest in a Air Purifyer

Boy W Camera's picture

Is the air bad where you come from? Thank goodness there are no power failures.

John Adams's picture

Exactly.. I have an air-purifier. It is really important especially if you spend a lot of time in that room. Another great thing is that the purifier captures smells and very tiny dust, so your computers and gear doesn't get dusty :)

Captain Jack R's picture

Those gaming chairs suck eggs! I sweat in them because of the fake leather. Fabric is a little better. Mesh is the best for the summer. As for adjustability, my old Herman Miller Aeron chair is much better. Yeah, a new one is going to cost you $1,500 or less. I bought my used from a wheelhouse for $200 bucks 4 years ago. I've customized mine with a headrest and rollerblades wheels. I have a soft foam pad I use in the winter or when watching a movie and I want to set my legs up. Now I heard that Herman Miller is coming out with a gaming chair. I'll have to try one out. From the looks of it, I don't think he has the same features as my Aeron.

I've used APC for two decades. Love them to bits! The best feature is the auto shut-down. I often leave the computer on 24-7 and projects open. Everything gets saved then it just shuts everything down.

I have a really nice Moutain Dew mini-fridge. It's larger than most minis out in the market. It died one day, and I replaced the cooling chip and now it works even better than before.

As for lighting, I just use Daylight color LEDs bulbs around 100 Watt equivalent. At night then I turn on my Philips Color LEDs to create fun colors for watching movies or winding down before bed.

My next purchase will be a Scientific Cryogenic freezer to store my Canon R5s. I hope I can find one small enough to fit in my rolling bag. LOL!

Les Sucettes's picture

Totally agree on chair forget “gamer” everything.

Just look at professionally designed work spaces which are specified by people who buy the best:

Humanscale
Steelcase
Herman Miller
Haworth
Bene
Vitra

Those are the chairs that are specified for ergonomics and that will give you the right WELL scores

As for price, people just spent $2000 on a lens and $5000 on a Canon R5 (when they can get a Medium Format GFX for that sort of money).

You should be willing to spend that much on your back. A broken back is way more expensive, painful and just terrible.