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I’m often asked about the equipment setup in my studio, and how I use it all together to run my business. This includes computers, applications, backup hardware and strategies, printers, network configuration, and everything else I use on a regular basis. This doesn’t only include processing and printing, and framing, but also marketing, writing, teaching workshops, and everything else that keeps the bills payed. Because I’ve refined and adjusted it many times over many years, I thought I would share my current setup based on my experience, needs, and workflow.

This will be a two part article, so the first will be on the hardware side of things with notes on usage.

Computers and Peripherals

-Mac Pro 2.66GHz Quad Core with 16 GB Ram, and 4 internal hard drives. I use this computer mainly for my photography workflow, including image processing, archiving, printing, exporting, and other related tasks. The 4 drives allow me to separate the operating system from the data, which makes managing and backing up everything much easier.

Peripherals include:

  • NEC 26″ monitor – wide-color gamut monitor, essential for image processing and printing. The extra color gamut really makes a difference for printing.
  • Wacom Intuos 2 pen tablet – great for using the local adjustment tools in Lightroom and Photoshop, but I still use the regular mouse for most other tasks.
  • SansDigital 2 Bay SATA Enclosure (2 TB for daily data backup) – I swap drives in and out of this enclosure depending on what I want to back up – raw files, video files, client files, etc. I’m up to using 1TB drives now since they are so inexpensive (compared to a few years ago when I don’t want to think about what I payed for a 500GB drive).
  • 4TB Drobo – weekly backups of all data for added security and peace of mind.
  • APC battery backup and line conditioner – must have for sensitive equipment and regular power outages in my neck of the woods.
  • KRK V4 studio speakers and subwoofer – mostly used for video editing

While not technically “hardware” on my end, I use CrashPlan Pro software to run all the backups to the external hard drives, and also backup everything to their cloud service. Very reliable and affordable.

-MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz Intel I7 with 8GB RAM. I use this laptop for running the business (email, web, task management, blog writing, website maintenance, etc.), creating presentations, and video editing. I also use it on the road for workshops and teaching/speaking events.

It’s attached to the following when in the studio:


  • Apple iPad2 16GB wifi- research, reading, manuals, basically the device that makes my “paperless” workflow possible. It’s even become a replacement for my laptop in many cases since I got a ZAGG Folio case for it which includes a blue-tooth keyboard. A game changing device for me for both business and pleasure.I’m actually writing this article on it, and I enjoy the lightness, longer battery life, and the distraction free aspect of using an iPad for writing vs a laptop.
  • Apple iPhone 4S – communication, email, SMS, note taking, and another place to access documents and information


  • Apple Airport Extreme – dual band wireless N router, easy to setup and love the hard drive sharing.
  • Various giga-bit ethernet switches for all the computers and printers which I always hard wire into the network for faster access of large photo and video files. My whole house is wired for ethernet (a long and messy process), but it ensures the best speeds possible. Only the mobile devices are wireless.

Printers and Mat Cutting

  • Canon iPF Prograf 8100 44″– workhorse printer that is still going strong after 3 years of constant use and very economical with inks. To date I have only replaced one of the printer heads, and it was serviced by Canon under warranty a year ago.Mostly used for printing on rolls, I have made tons of large prints, and it still amazes me quality wise with regards to detail and color – a great machine for sure.
  • Epson 3880 17″ – another great printer which I use mostly for cut sheets, notecards, and smaller prints where I don’t need the larger size of the 8100.
  • Speedmat Esterly Mat Cutter– I cut all my own mats, and the Speed Mat makes it easy, precise, and efficient – a great investment if you sell your images matted and framed.

Of course any studio of mine wouldn’t be complete without a reference library which has grown over the years to every bookshelf in the house, but I keep my favorites in the studio – inspiration can never be over rated.

I think that does it for the major hardware, I’ll cover the software that makes it all run in the next post – any feedback or questions, please leave them in the comments below.

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This Post Has 11 Comments

    1. Hi Michael, for general lighting I use full-spectrum bulbs from Solux Lighting at 4700K temperature. I really like these and they create a warm but very balanced lighting environment in which to review prints.

      For color calibration, I use X-Rite products – I’ll have specifics in the next post which will detail software and accessories. Thanks for the questions!


  1. Robert..what backpack/laptop bag do you use when you’re flying? have you had problems carrying on all your equipment with a laptop, lenses and tripod?

  2. Robert, thanks for sharing! I always find it fascinating to “see behind the curtain” of a photographer’s process and system. Looking forward to the next post.

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  4. What color space do you keep on the monitor while editing images? Is it set permanently to Adobe or sRGB or software driven like from Lightroom?

    1. I use a wide-gamut monitor, so I use the native space of the monitor which is close to Adobe98. Most monitors are sRGB which means they are limited to the sRGB space. The software doesn’t determine the space, the operating system does in combination with the monitors capabilities. Hope that helps.


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