Computer Requirements for Photography
Being a professional photographer means that taking photos is only one half of the job. The second half is everything that happens once you get back home, start up your computer and begin editing! So, if you are looking at becoming a photographer and want to begin editing, this is what you are going to need from your computer.
First, what’s great about photography, compared to videography, is that you don’t need a dedicated graphics card. So, you need to focus on the processor, RAM and display. For the processor, if we are talking about Intel, what you should be looking for Intel i3, i5 and/or i7. The AMD equivalents would be the AMD Ryzen 3, 5 or 7. The higher the number, the more powerful the processor and the longer the laptop will last and speed up your workflow, but the 3’s are the minimum that I would recommend. The minimum RAM requirements would be 8GB, but if you could get 16GB of RAM, that’ll be ideal to increase the speed of exporting. What’s great is that these specs on a desktop/laptop are easy to find, but it’s the display where it gets tricky. When looking for a display, the minimum resolution (and thankfully the standard) would be Full HD (1920x1080), but the technology of the panel should be IPS or OLED. They provide amazing colours and fantastic contrast. So, if you are looking for a laptop to be your main machine, you can either find one that has the display built-in (which are on the higher-end), or buy an external monitor and connect it.
In terms of the software, I usually try and get all my photos edited and done on Adobe Lightroom Classic. The newer version of Lightroom is perfectly usable as well, but I am just used to the old interface. Unless I have to, I bring the photos into Adobe Photoshop (if you see yourself using a lot of Photoshop, get a machine with at least an i5, i7, Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7). Once I finish my edits in Adobe Photoshop, I save the file and bring it back to Adobe Lightroom to edit the rest of the photos or export them. This is where the computer is at work, applying all the edits and compressing the files, so the stronger the computer, the faster the export will be.
Now, what about storage?
All my photography and editing is done on two external drives. This keeps my machine light, and at top performance. The first drive is an External Hard Drive that lives on my desk (I have the WD MyPassport 4TB). This is where I keep all the RAW files and back up the photos, both edited and unedited. So, if I ever need to pull the files again, I have access to them and can freely edit them. The second drive is an external SSD (I use the Samsung T5 250GB). After each photo shoot, I move the RAW files from the photoshoot onto the SSD and create the Lightroom Catalog that I will be editing on. Once I finish the edits, I put them on the External Hard Drive, and delete the RAW files from the SSD so that it is ready for the next photo shoot. The external SSD comes with me everywhere my camera goes in case I need to edit elsewhere.
As an extra backup, since I am a subscriber of Microsoft 365, it includes 1TB of OneDrive storage. So, I thought I may as well use it. I move all my edited photos on my OneDrive as well so that I have access to all my photos from my iPhone and iPad as well, no matter where I am.
Being a photographer requires a lot of technology behind it, but with the right technology, you can truly create something fun and memorable!