Gear to Edit Photos On the Go! Monterey Photographer

Do you ever get distracted working from home? I know I do! This simple setup covers everything you need to edit your photos on location. Whether you just need to get out of the house, don’t have an office space, are traveling, or you’re a wedding photographer and need to get some photos edited to display during the reception-this setup is perfect for you. It’s everything you need, but still compact enough to fit in one bag, and has a small enough foot print to fit on the tiniest of reception tables.  


Do you ever get distracted working from home? I know I do! I realize the dishes need to be done, I laundry needs to be started, when was the last time I cleaned the bathroom??? And then the Martha Washington (our cat) sits next to my chair and cries at me. When your sweet little terrorist of a cat wants to be petted you pet her. Before I realize it is noon and I haven’t gotten anything on my to-do list done. Or I ignore all the things and work and slowly get bored, sleepy, and hungry. I love my job and I actually really enjoy editing, but it’s a lot like reading for me. The repetitive action makes me sleepy and space out. I end up looking at my phone way too much- and all my productivity goes out the window.  I had been going through this cycle for years-scraping by, trying to get all my editing done. My husband saw my struggle, especially in my “busy season” when fall family sessions are in full swing and I’m within an inch of my sanity.


(As an aside, I was thinking about it and whether he know it or not my husband has always giving me these little nuggets of advice that have made such a difference in my business. He always knows the right thing to say, or he will say something that will spark an idea in me. I just can’t gush about him enough.)

Anyways, he mentioned that a lot of work from home people are only successful if they make themselves a schedule like a regular 9-5 job would, and many times they still get out of the house to work. I really hadn’t thought about that before. I mean, I have a home office, aren’t I supposed to be using it?!?! Plus, I was hopelessly addicted to my giant iMac and large Wacom tablet. All I could think was “I can’t possibly do this anywhere else.” Obstinance is a funny thing, eventually life will beat it out of you! I was hitting max capacity.


It was incredibly amazing that I was so busy, but I was really starting to take on more than I could handle. I thought well, I need to get coffee in the morning anyways, maybe I’ll just give this editing out of the office thing a try. If it was a disaster, it would be one day. I took my laptop and my large Wacom tablet (since it was all I had) and I headed off to my local Starbucks. I got my coffee and sat at a table, and I’m not gonna lie, at first, I felt a little awkward. Even though other people were working too, I felt like everyone was staring at me. Truth be told I’m sure no one was staring at me, but it was a new situation and I was nervous. But I had so much work to do, so I pushed through. In an hour I had an entire family session edited. Including head-swaps, editing skin-the whole shabang. I was blown away! There is a magical synergy when I edit at Starbucks, usually it is noisy enough to keep my brain engaged and not bored, but it’s also enough of a “white noise” that it’s not distracting. I don’t even usually listen too music. If it’s a particularly noise day, or if the music is garbage I’ll listen to and audible book.

Why I love it:

It doesn’t have to be a Starbucks, but what I like about going there is they are setup for people to work there. They have tables, and lots of outlets. Plus, if I get thirsty or hungry I can get something, unlike going to a library or something along those lines.


What I bring with me:

It’s been about a year since I started editing out of the house. I’ve really dialed in what I need to bring with my because it’s a balance of making sure I have everything I need to work, but not caring anything too heavy or big.


Laptop Bag:

While I love that my camera backpack can hold my laptop, I don’t want to always take that with me. That is a lot of heavy and expensive gear, and 99% of the time I’m not going to need my camera the same day I’m editing. Also, I love that I have my laptop bag packed and ready to go with everything in it, and I won’t accidentally leave something at home, from switching bags back and forth (this happened a few times at the beginning, and when you waste an hour driving back and forth from home you learn quick). Make sure you get a bag that is big enough for your laptop, I have a 15 inch MacBook, and not all the bags were big enough. I also want a laptop back that could zip closed on the top, so things wouldn’t accidentally fall out, and so sneaky hands couldn’t easily reach in.

MacBook Pro:

I’m a mac person I have been since I started college back in 2005. I love mac OS, and that’s just how it is. I’m sure a very techy person could argue one side of the pc vs. mac battle. Buy what works for you.

SSD Storage:

I didn’t upgrade the storage on my mac so I definitely need external storage.  It is also a good idea, because even if you have the internal storage it will bog your computer down to have that many files on it. There are 2 types of external you can buy. An external hard drive and an external SSD (solid state drive). Basically, a traditional hard drive has an actual spinning disc in it, and disc can get damaged. I think if it, like back in the day, when you used to listen to a cd player in the car and you would hit a bump and it would skip-same thing can happen to your hard drive, but instead of skipping a song the drive can get thrown around and fail. If you just need something that is for the most part just going to sit on your desk at home a hard drive is a great option. You can buy a LOT of storage pretty reasonably and most of them will last a very long time. On the other hand, if you need something that you could throw across the room and it’ll still work fine, then you need a solid state drive. While they are more expensive they are much more stable. Instead of a spinning disk they have a solid piece of internal storage. I have 3 of them now, and I through them in my bag all the time, and I’ve even dropped them a few times, and have never had a problem.   

The short gist of it is hard drives are cheaper but less durable, solid state drives are more expensive but rugged.

Here is a little tip, if you buy multiples of the same drives, label them. I can’t tell you how much time and frustration I waste not plugging in the right drive, and distinguishing them by, “oh I need the one that has the scratch in the corner, nope I need the one that had more fuss on the Velcro thingy”. I was that person. Don’t be that person.  

Wacom Tablet:

I you do ANY type of retouching, spot editing-it you ever take any photo into photoshop, you should have a Wacom tablet. I had a graphic design teacher tell me something once and it really stuck with me, she said, “using a mouse for anything on the computer is like trying to draw with a bar of soap in your hand” and it’s SO TRUE.  If you want to do more precise work, of if you just want to work faster imagine the difference between drawing with a bar of soap and a pencil.

I used to use the large Wacom tablet. Truth be told I do miss the fact that you could do hand gestures on it, but the table I have now fits on tables so much better. Plus using the Bluetooth connection give me and extra usb port and 1 less cable I have to worry about.  


I know this is going to be a really weird fact, but I have very small earholes. Given the fact that I’m almost 6 foot and I wear a size 12 in womens, it’s always weird that anything on me is petite. What that means for headphones is most hurt or won’t stay in. The hard apple ones are horrible for me. I just thought I’d always have to wear over ear headphones and that was the way it was, but I also hate cords. It was especially frustrating when you are trying to fit everything on a small table, and you have a power cord to your laptop, cords to external drives. The less cords that had to be plugged in the better. My husband did a little research and found these JBL headphones and they came with different size inner ear plugs. Guys, even though they are fairly big, they are so comfortable! I’ve never been able to handle in-ear headphones and these work great for me!

Power bank:

I tried to minimize the cords I needed in my setup as much as I could, but the tradeoff is that everything that is Bluetooth needs to be charged. As much as I would like to be a super prepared person, most of the time I forget to charge anything. Cut to me sitting at Starbucks all ready to work and my tablet is dying. Or a supper annoying person sits at the table next to me and my head phone are dead. I didn’t even know I needed a power bank. I thought, well I have cables and chargers. But my darling husband insisted and ended up getting me one. To be honest I put it in my bag to be grateful, still not thinking I really needed it. I was so wrong! While I don’t need it very often, when I need it I NEED it! Especially for the Wacom tablet. I can plug it in on the table and keep working away. Or somehow, I end up in a place that doesn’t have a power supply and my phone is at 5% battery. It has saved my butt multiple times. Get it, you’ll need it.  

Dual USB block:

This one is nice to have but not super necessary, but if you’re going to pack a usb block it might as well have 2 ports. It does come in handy when you have to change multiple things at once, or if someone else is using the only wall outlet.

Gear List:

Laptop Bag:

Samsung SSD:

Wacom Intuos Tablet:

JBL Free X:

Power Bank:

USB Charger:

  1. Tarequl says:

    Awesome photography! I feel lucky today to see the beauty of photography. It was really great inspirational post


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