Being a photographer today means you are also proficient on the computer. You really need both skill sets to be in business in photography. That being said, the computers you use can make your life easier in the office or in the field. We have different recommendations for both so read on!
Computers for home office
In the home office or office space you rent, it is a fairly dust & dirt free environment, especially if you compare it to a horse barn or tent set up at a horse show. Here in this safe quiet environment, I would get the best computer with the largest screen that you can afford. I spend hours on mine just like if I worked for a huge company. I do everything on it, and you will too! There will be post work after shows, you may have taken a few print orders in addition to the CD the riders bought. You may end up putting a few images online for the show promoter or rider who competed late and didn’t see their pictures. Having a fast processor and a big screen is a luxury but also a necessity when you spend so many hours on the computer and online. Here are our picks for home office computers.
I know there have been many issues lately for Macintosh but I LOVE my iMac and wouldn’t trade it for any other computer! That’s a pretty strong endorsement I know. Here’s why. Though the Macbook Pro laptop was my pick of the past, the iMac comes with a deliciously large screen, amazing graphics, super fast processor (great for running PhotoShop and Lightroom) and it’s clean design doesn’t take up much room on my desk. AND… the price is great for what you get. The one con…it’s not a laptop and you can’t very well pack it and take it into City Brew or Starbucks and work. But if that is something you can live with…there is no better Desktop style computer out there right now for a photographer! You can get the 21.5″ or spring for the larger 27″, whatever floats your boat! There is also the optional Retina display if you want to spend more money! I just use the regular display which is awesome, but up to you.
My husband and I are on opposite operating systems at this point! Well, you know what they say… opposites attract! Yes, he is all android, and I’m all MAC. He researched high and low and just upgraded to this PC laptop that he loves. It’s by Asus and it’s called The Republic of Gamers. It is specifially for gamers and that’s what makes this a great photographers computer as well! Fast, and great graphics. It’s a nice 15.5 inch screen and he uses an external monitor when he needs to edit in PS or LR and he is also portable and good to go work or present to a client in the field. Coming in around the same price as my iMac, it’s a nice PC choice for a home or office computer as long as you don’t mind plugging into a larger monitor when you need to edit. Or get the 17 inch screen and you are good to go! There are many great choices for your main home office computer/laptop, but if you want to check this one out, you can look at it here:
Computers for the field
Now you wouldn’t wear your best dress or suit to kneel in the dirt and photograph a horse show would you?
Well then you also wouldn’t bring your best computer to get dust and dirt in it and ruin it…RIGHT???
That’s why we use what we call “field computers”. Years ago, way before we started this whole horse photography business… we owned a couple of Dell laptops. They were weren’t that expensive but they were portable, decent speed and great for working on the road ( at the time we both worked off desktop PC’s at home-GASP!).
When we started our first horse photography gig (2008!) we needed a field computer. We had just upgraded our home office computers to MacBook PRos, two of them, and the two DeLLs became our “Field Computers”. What we didn’t know then was despite using them in dusty, rainy, and sometimes sweltering heat outside with just the cover of a tent, those two Dell’s would outlast our newer babied and coddled MacBook Pros! We have since bought 9 or 10 more Dells since 2009, and the original Dell just stopped booting up last summer!!! That little 13.5 inch screened laptop that we purchased in 2006 lasted almost 12 years using it in the dust, heat and rain! Amazing! So, get a field computer or two, get a Dell! We had great luck with these models though the 15″ is a little faster and is made for gamers- great for us photographers too:
You will need a few more things to add to your computer setups- home and field. If you haven’t read about BEING A SHOW PHOTOGRAPHER by Flash Corbisier… READ HERE: LINK <<<<<<<
We will start with your field setup since you most likely have a home computer set up already.
Besides your little “field” laptop – get that DELL… you will need a good monitor. You can’t show and sell images off a laptop screen. It’s too small and low for a concession photography business and doesn’t do well with glare. You want the external viewing screen large (at least 21” or bigger if you can afford). We like 24” as it still will fit in a large tupperware style box for safe transport and you can set it on some wood or blocks to raise it a little higher. This way riders walking by your booth will see the images of the rider you are showing and come in to have a better look. Now you have your next buyer in line!
I will warn you, monitors don’t last that long using in field conditions. You will probably need to purchase one every year or two if your lucky. Dust, dirt and sun are not great on equipment and really hammer the monitors hard. I wouldn’t recommend spending more than $120 or so as you will replace them no matter how expensive they are. We learned that the hard way!
We look for sales on monitors at all the office supply stores and sometimes Costco. If you need to get one and don’t have time to shop, amazon has the perfect horse show monitor here: Asus 24 inch Monitor, perfect for showing and selling!
This HP is a steal with a little smaller screen: HP 21.5 inch Monitor, this will do just fine!
External CD/DVD Burners
For your field set up, an external CD/DVD burner is going to be faster and easier to use than the burner that comes with your laptop. Laptop CD burners can be fussy, and awkward when you are sitting or standing, trying to burn, and show photos. This concession business is all about speed! If riders have to wait… they may just NOT. With an external burner you can set it up on whatever side of the computer works best for you- right or left handed. We have used these LG burners for years: LG External CD/DVD Burner
External Download Cord
This is a case of just plain personal preference. My husband Flash uses the camera’s download cord to get the show images from his camera to the computer. It works and is designed to do just that. What I don’t like about the download cord, is you need to have your camera on the computer table which is crowded once you have all you need for the show on there. The camera is exposed to whatever is going on with wind, dust and weather. It’s also sitting out in the open. Not that I am paranoid or feeling like most people are thieves posing as horse enthusiasts… it’s just risky in my opinion to leave your camera sitting out when you have people in and out of your booth at all times. The other issue is Someone may come and grab you to get a winner shot or something you were not expecting. Now you may have to disconnect your camera and download cord, get a fresh card, put it in careful to not mix up cards… messy!
Enter the External Download card….
Get yourself a $20 card reader, leave it plugged into the computer (it’s USB). So my method is to take out the used memory card, plug it in and download. Then load in a fresh card into my camera (it’s always good to be ready to shoot at any moment!). The camera goes back in the bag, out of sight and ready to go. We have used this card reader for years and just keep re-buying it every few years when needed! It takes SD, CF and SD mini, be sure and check to make sure this reads your card! External Card Reader- simple!
Backup drives (storage)
You will need to backup your shows and I recommend getting a nice external hard drive. We recommend a Terabyte, it should be plenty of space for your shows and portraits. Back up all your shows and portraits and keep the show photos for at least a year. A low tech way is to back up the show is on a DVD or two. We did this when first starting out… but the drive is so much more efficient. When you can, get this one- it’s MAC/PC compatible which is great for retrieving images for post show emails to promoters, posting new work on your website etc. And if you and your spouse or business partner are on different operating systems… it makes life so much easier! Seagate 1T external Hard Drive for Mac/PC
USB storage sticks
You should have a couple of these “jump drives” or storage devices lying around. When you get to doing larger shows and you are working off several computers, these little sticks are handy to quickly grab an image and put it on another computer. For larger and longer shows we network all our computers (not too hard, just a few specific cables). This way you can access images on computer A from computer C and so forth. Or you can opt for the big kahuna and get the 128 gig for extreme back up emergencies! We have both!
That about covers what you will need as far as computers and hardware goes to do this amazing and fun business, Horse Photography! We sincerely hope this resource guide helps you put together your business and saves you lots of time and money, buying the wrong things! As above we disclosed that we have provided affiliate links where we make a small commision on the links we have provided you. You are under no obligation to buy from us and this page, but we so appreciate it if you do. Also check out our other recommended sections: Cameras, Lenses and Accessories, Websites and Software and the Ultimate Booth tent setup! Take me Back to the Main Resource Page!
~River & Clay~