As photographers, we’re constantly filled will gear lust. Despite our constant efforts to explain to others that gear doesn’t make the photographer, we still fill ourselves with the disillusion that a new 85mm will somehow make our work better, or that a new camera body will give us the dynamic range we need to succeed. These are fallacies, and despite them, I have one piece of gear that has truly improved my work considerably: A Standing Desk.
Now I know what you’re thinking — “A Standing Desk? That’s hardly a piece of photography gear” and boy you’d be wrong. As a photographer, I primarily work with actors and local businesses in Los Angeles for Headshot Photography. While the work is very rewarding, I still spend most of my time in front of my computer. As research for this article, I decided to watch my movements as a self-employed photographer over the course of a week to see where I…stand.
On a standard 40 hour work week, I found that only about 6 of those hours were actually spent shooting anything. Additionally, 29 of those hours were spent in front of my computer, either retouching images, developing marketing materials for social media and blogs or answering emails and other business inquiries. The remainder of the time (approx 5 hours) is typically delegated to in-person meetings at coffee shops or cafes, and location scouting. So in my typical work week, I spend over 70% of my time in front of my computer.
These long periods of time were taking a toll on my body, particularly my back. Like many others, my family has a long history of back problems, where nearly every person on my mom’s side of the family has had back surgery at least once. I looked into getting a really nice chair, and even did my research on chairs from Herman Miller, Steelcase and other companies who make top of the line office furniture, but decided, after long nights of aching pain, to adjust my desk instead.
I ended up getting a standing desk. Though through conflicting studies, and not keen in the idea of now standing 29 hours a week instead of sitting, I opted for a sit/stand desk. The desk in particular that I chose is the Jarvis Desk from Ergo Depot. The desk itself is incredibly well made, and is adjustable by motors inside of the legs, allowing me to convert it from a sitting position to a standing position in just seconds.
And this desk has done a considerable amount for my business. For one, and perhaps this is just a personal experience, but I find myself working harder while in a standing position. Standing gives me a sense of urgency, making me work more effectively on the responsibilities I have. I believe this feeling comes from the ability to slump in a chair and lounge, where standing only really allows you to shift your weight from one foot to the other. This lack of relaxation keeps me motivated and on the tasks on hand.
Secondly, the desk added a bit of permanence to my workspace. Before, I just had my computer and utilities set up on a large table. Bringing the desk in was a way for me to motivate myself into making a physical office. In the office, work gets done, and I separate myself from the outside world, social media and otherwise. This separation has been a huge encourager to get work done, with efficiency I had not had before.
And while the desk has not completely abolished laziness from my life, it has helped. In the past, I’ve always thought that a faster computer or a better light would increase my workflow and work output. But sometimes, it can be as easy as shaking up your office.