If you're a photographer, retoucher, or videographer, you likely spend a lot of time at a computer. And since you're spending all that time there, it makes sense to make sure you're as comfortable and efficient as possible. Here are six non-photography items I use to make my workspace better.
I'm a firm believer that the more time you spend doing something, the more thought you should put into customizing both your process and workspace not only to make you more efficient, but simply make the tasks more enjoyable. After all, if you spend a lot of time in one place, why not make sure you're as comfortable as possible? Here's what makes my process easier.
A Quality Tea/Coffee Maker
Photographers are in general a caffeinated bunch, and if you're the type that idly sucks down mugs of the stuff all day like me, having a proper tea maker or coffee maker can make a world of difference. I love loose leaf tea, and my Breville BTM800XL One-Touch Tea Maker is fantastic. First of all, it's the only tea maker I know that can brew on a timer like a coffee machine (thanks to its basket that automatically moves along a magnetic track), which means I can wake up to tea like one wakes up to coffee instead of stumbling out of bed and inevitably burning my hand on the kettle because I'm too tired to be handling boiling water. And while that alone makes it worth it to me, it can also brew an entire kettle and keep it warm for the afternoon. It also has built-in settings depending on the type of leaf (green, black, oolong, etc.) you're using and the brew strength you prefer, which ensures consistent and yummy delivery of caffeine every day. I personally think the investment in a good tea maker or coffeemaker is well worth it.
Space Heater and Humidifier
If winter is cold and dry where you live, the air can get mighty uncomfortable. However, wintertime heating is also really expensive, and it's not very budget-friendly to heat your entire home to 72 degrees when you're spending the majority of your time in one room. While you can always get a normal 1,500-watt space heater, consider getting a parabolic heater. At 1,000 watts, it costs a third less to run, and it provides a focused beam of heat, perfect if you're sitting in a chair all day and just want to keep yourself warm. On the same token, breathing in dry air all day isn't particularly pleasant, and I've found a humidifier makes a great difference in comfort level. If you get an ultrasonic model, I suggest using distilled water to keep from shooting fine dust into the air that'll coat everything around it.
A UPS (uninterrupted power supply) is basically a power strip/surge protector coupled with a large battery that automatically kicks on if the power goes out, giving you time to save everything and safely shut your equipment down or even keep working for a bit, depending on the size of the battery. While computer gear is generally more reliable these days, it's still not a good idea to just randomly cut the power to spinning hard drives and the like. I'm a fan of my APC Power-Saving Back-UPS Pro 1500. I get about 45 minutes of working time with my full setup out of it, but the real kicker is the USB connection. I typically leave my computer running overnight to back up to Backblaze, so if the power went out, I wouldn't know. I have my UPS set to wait 10 minutes for me to intervene, after which point it automatically saves every open window, then shuts the computers and hard drives down. Nifty.
You're probably cranking the tunes while you edit, right? Maybe I'm more sensitive than most since I'm a musician, but trust me: once you hear sound on a good set of speakers, you'll never go back. You don't need to go all audiophile level 9,000 either; just a decent set will vastly improve your experience. I personally have a pair of KRK Rokit 6 Active Monitors on my desk. Studio monitors are speakers designed to have a near-flat response across the frequency spectrum, making music sound as it did when it was mixed (as opposed to the EQ tricks speaker manufacturers play to make their devices sound more expensive than they are). It sounds a smidgen strange at first, but you'll notice you hear your music with much more clarity and nuance than ever before. Mine sit on a pair of ISO Acoustics Monitor Isolators for extra accuracy and because they make nice stands.
Gaming Mouse and Mousepad
Even if you have a tablet, you still probably spend a considerable amount of time using a mouse. Gaming mice are designed to be precise and highly customizable for gamer's needs, but those same requirements make them great for photographers. I use a Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum Gaming Mouse. It has 11 customizable buttons, adjustable weighting, absolutely perfect ergonomics, and multiple profiles, meaning I can switch tracking speed in one key press, making it easy to slow the mouse down for precise work or speed it up to fly across the screen. Couple it with a proper mousepad and you'll wonder why you didn't make this upgrade years ago.
Though it's perhaps the most obvious of the six items, I can't stress this enough: a good chair will keep you comfortable and healthier by promoting good posture (make sure you're doing that on your own as well). It doesn't have to be one of those $3,000 ultra-executive models that make you look like you sit in a skyscraper, banging your fist on a desk while yelling orders to interns. Nonetheless, upgrading from that wood chair you borrowed from the dining room table will make a huge difference and certainly make long editing sessions much easier on your back.
Do you have any favorite items that make your work easier or more comfortable? Tell us about them in the comments!
Lead image by Pexels user Negative Space, used under Creative Commons.