Card reader and backup card reader. If you can’t get the files into the machine, you’re screwed.
• Tethering cables. 1 Mini-USB to Standard USB and 1 Active USB Extension.
• Tethertools Jerkstoppers can save you from a very expensive port replacement and a fair bit of annoyance.
• Ethernet cable, for when the hotel Wifi is crap. (Which is always.)
• A couple of Windows-formatted thumb drives for moving files around quickly.
• Fast hard drive with 2 partitions (or two hard drives):
   Partition 1. A complete bootable backup of the location computer.
   Partition 2. Installers for all apps you might need.
• Hard drive for a shoot backup. Speed is not as important, but backups will run faster with a faster drive.
   (If you can manage it, a third drive for backup would be ideal.)
  Should contain the same folder structure as your master shoot folder.

Essential Installers

• The Photoshop installer
• The Lightroom installer
PostHaste to create your folder structure so that you don’t have to.
Photo Mechanic to import and backup your shots.
A good FTP client so that you can send files to clients.
SuperDuper to run backups.
Diskwarrior in case your machine gets jacked up.
CardRescue in case a memory card goes South.

Optional Installers

(You will be a hero if your clients needs one of these)

• The InDesign installer.
• The Illustrator installer.


• A pre-built Lightroom 4 catalog with company logo and everything set up the way you like it.
• Your personal Photohop settings/presets/brushes/workspaces.
• Your personal Lightroom Presets (this can be done simply through Dropbox; that way every machine you work with will have the same sets of preferences. See note.
• iTunes Library.


Make sure you understand how all of the software and hardware works before you get to the shoot. Test it. Think of ways it might fail, and make plans for recovering from those failures. Your job is to make sure that the tech problems get solved.

Install the Dropbox app on your phone. Make sure a copy of the Productions Documents (see below) folder is in Dropbox so you can get it with your phone if you’re out in the field and need important shoot info. It wouldn’t hurt to have PDF manuals for all common cameras in there, too.

The backup hard drives stays with you at all times. If you don’t know where it is, it might as well be lost. Out for drinks with the crew while the gear stays back in the room? That drive had better be in your pocket, or the whole shoot will be lost when the thieves steal your laptop. You won’t be asked back.


Your naming conventions for files and folders are very simple:
This will enable date and image-number sorting to work perfectly in any program. Never change the name of a file after this unless you’re absolutely sure you know what you’re doing. There is rarely any reason to, and you can lose track of which FPO goes with which original ad it will make you crazy. Tell your clients to make sure that the original filename is preserved in any new filenames.

Consider setting up Lightroom as shown in this video. (Instead of download-photos-here, I’m using INCOMING_PIX) That will allow LR to automatically import and put away your files.

  1. Get card from photog. New cards go on your left and safe-to-use cards go on your right. Alternatively, (and perhaps more safely) you can use tape flags for card-status: red for new and green for safe-to-use. That way, the photog can tell what’s what when you’re not around.
  2. Use Photo Mechanic to write the files to your INCOMING_PIX folder (primary destination)
    and the SHOTS folder on your backup drive. (secondary destination)
    Use the IPTC Statonery Pad to set up your metadata. Feel free to add keywords and other info.
  3. When the card ejects, stick a green tape flag on it and put it to the right of your workstation.
  4. Do the rest of the steps from the video.
    That’s it. Everything else you know how to do, right?


In order to create your super-fantastic Master Shoot Folder Structure, PostHaste should be setup like this:

Here’s what those folders are for:

  ASW: Layered PSD files (Those are my initials. Use your own.)
  SR-notes-on-these-files: This is a textfile that contains instructions for use and contact info
  TO CLIENT: Flat TIFFs that go to the client
  LR: Lightroom Catalog goes here
  INCOMING-PIX: Photo Mechanic should be sending files here
  SHOTS: Original Raw files go here
  WEB-GALLERIES: Any Web galleries you make for the client go here
Production Documents
  Production-Notes.rtf: Anything related to the shoot, such as hotel addresses, flight info, phone numbers and emails for everyone on the shoot, equipment serial numbers, insurance company info, etc.
WIP: Work-in-progress PSD files
  FPO: lowres JPGs that you want to send to the client for approval.
These files and folders all get created inside your master shoot folder, which should be named 20100721-CLIENTNAME-SHOOTNAME-LOCATION

To set up Lightroom presets and preferences in Dropbox so that they can be shared across all Macs:

1. Quit Lightroom.
2. Download and unzip SymLinker.
3. In Finder, move ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom to a new folder in Dropbox called Presets/Lightroom
4. Drag the new Lightroom folder onto SymLinker. That will make a Symbolic Link.
4. Copy that Symbolic Link (it will have the “.sym” extention) to ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/ on each Mac, moving the original folder to the trash.
5. Open Lightroom on each Mac and make sure everything is working ok.

This will work with most application preset folders.

Why bother with all of this malarkey? Because you can waste a lot of time trying to figure out how to use your apps when your presets and preferences have changed back to the defaults, and if you’ve just had to reinstall Photoshop or Lightroom, chances are that you don’t have any more spare time.

If you’re curious about Symbolic Links, here is a good explanation of them.