Social Media Strategist's Desktop Setup & Gear
SOFTWARE & HARDWARE FOR THE SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGIST
Things change. I usually start this post with a phrase like “I last updated my Social Media Photographer's Gear series here in (insert date) of this/last year.” Since I’ve updated this post now 4 times this year, I have decided to just make this a monthly, updated post moving forward.
As digital marketers, do we really need all the gear and software we think we need? Since the start of my transition off DSLR cameras to mirrorless to compacts and now to iPhones, I regularly stop and consider if it is me, or the gear that makes my work as good as it can be. While we all can get sucked into the mindless trap of unrelenting consumerism, I have found in the past few years that limiting my access to tech, gear, and software forces me to exercise my creative muscles in ways I wouldn't otherwise. Having access to the latest and greatest everything all the time is a blessing but it makes you intellectually lazy - plain and simple.
Luckily for me I have realized this and just happen to be at a point in my career where I am naturally embracing it. Sometimes advancing means simplifying. Just adding more "junk" to my iMac, photo bag, iPad or home office is no longer helpful. After being in the digital space for over two decades, I have found the right software and hardware tools I need in order to be productive and profitable. Now I am focused on eliminating the things I have accumulated over the years that I thought were beneficial, but are not in reality.
This is not easy. I like gear. I like new apps. I like tricking myself into thinking I did something to make my art or work better by adding something to my bag of tricks. But I also love simplicity;
I'm not there yet - but I'm getting there. The transition I have made from January 2018 to today is the biggest I have made since moving from mirrorless cameras to iPhones for my professional work.
My Hardware & Software Setup
This is the current gear I use on a day-to-day basis to deliver award-winning SEO and social media marketing results to my clients. It's all been tested in real-world situations, on real jobs and, as always, everything on this list is highly recommended by me personally.
I focus on efficiency with my hardware and software budget, which is not the same as being frugal. I will challenge myself but I won't sacrifice the quality of work I produce for the sake of saving a few dollars. I don't want to throw money away either. I work hard to get the tools I need versus the ones I just want. How does this manifest itself? One example is that all my content is still delivered in 1080p HD. That means I don't need to be worried if my next camera has a 4k option because I won't be needing it. This is just used as an example of my thinking.
I continue to focus on getting my workflow, hardware and software setup optimized so I can get as much done as possible, as quickly as possible, with the lightest digital and physical footprint possible, anywhere and everywhere. This means scaling back not only the hardware, but also the number of programs I use.
In this past year I have sold off all my mirrorless & compact cameras and lenses. I spent some time being 100% iPhone for all my photo and video work. I tested using two FujiFilm X100F's and a Fujifilm X-E3 as higher-quality photo/video cameras. Unfortunately, the X100F's were too finicky when working with them for video. The additional steps required to get photos and videos from the cameras into my editing process were their undoing. I don't know exactly why, but the X-E3 just sat on a shelf in my home office and barely got picked up, much less used. I made the final decision to sell it to someone who might actually use it after I took the X-E3 on a week-long trip and I didn't use it once. Part of the trip included a couple client shoots and the X-E3 sat in the airbnb. I didn't even consider taking it to the client shoots.
**One thing to note here: I “switched” to using iPhones exclusively on all my projects back in 2015. While I have dabbled in more Fujifilm and Canon cameras since that time, I have still not used any divice other than an iPhone on client work since my switch in 2015. It’s interesting to me that even with access to “better” cameras, I continue to choose to shoot with the iPhone due to the combined capabilities, consistency, convenance, and final product the device delivers.
I absolutely LOVE the look of the photos and videos that come out of the Fuji's - but I am looking to achieve balance with overall quality, ease of use, and flexibility. Frankly, with the iPhone 8 Plus and now with the iPhone XS - I am happy enough - and more importantly, my clients are happy, with the video and photos that the iPhones produce. So the experience from my latest trip sealed the deal for me. I got rid of my last "real camera" and think I won't look back unless I make the big jump to a medium format system.
I'm an running leaner than ever before, carrying two iPhones and just an iPad with me everywhere I go. The only reason why I'd take a laptop with me on a trip in the past was if I knew I'd need to do complex video editing for publication during the trip. Even in those kinds of situations, I could carry my entire office and all my photo/video gear with me in a medium sized photo bag. That was a win. But I even took the next step and sold off the laptop - leaving myself with the two iPhones and the iPad as my entire setup in the field.
When necessary, I just plan ahead before any trip where I’ll be shooting and producing video in the field and I create any elements I’ll need for the final edits before I leave and load them up to the iPad. All video and photo editing and distribution in the field is now completed on the 12.9” iPad Pro. I haven’t and any issues yet with this setup and I save 12-15 pounds and extra space by not having the laptop with me any longer.
So - what is different now as compared to the previous years.... EVERYTHING. I upgraded the Apple Retina 5k, 27-inch iMac to the latest 2017 version (boy does the 8GB of VRAM make a difference!). I upgraded the iPad Pro 10.5 to a MacBook Pro (after I sold my previous 27" iMac) and then “side-graded” to a second generation 12.9" iPad Pro as my mobile device. Gone is the 4TB Lacie hard drive for Time Machine (thank you iCloud). Gone are all the Fujifilm and Canon cameras. I now use iPhones as my sole photo and video cameras for all shoots.
Here we go again: I’ve realized something.
Using the iPhones require that I supplement them for situations where I want a bit more functionality out of them. I want a bit more reach from the lens. I want a wider angle. I want better, smoother stabilization. At the same time I want to be able to pull out a camera an "just shoot" without having to attach accessories and cages and stabilizers. I found that when you use your iPhone for your camera... you have to dress up the phone to make it perform as a camera in many situations.
Still in my quest to have a light footprint, I’m rethinking the Moment lenses, HeliumCore Cinema Cages, the DJI Osmo Stabilizer, the MoonDog Labs Anamorphic Lens, the Shure MV88 microphone, the other stuff, and the other stuff, and the other stuff.. I don't believe any “real” camera I get would be anything more than a transition camera for me. But it's where I am in my journey... and I don't have much more to say about it than that. I haven’t made that switch back yet… not yet…
So what am I currently using now? Without further ado, here's the list:
Computers / Mobile
iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2017) (2TB Fusion HD, 3.8 GHz Intel Core i5, 24 GB 2133 MHz DDR4 + Radeon Pro 580 8192 MB) with wireless Apple Mouse 2 w/ 4TB G-Technology USB C Hard Drive for project scratch disk. This computer has replaced the Macbook Pro and iMac I previously used for a few years.
Apple Second Generation 12.9 iPad Pro (512GB, WiFi-Only) is my only mobile machine. You can call it a laptop replacement if that makes you feel better. This replaces an 11” Macbook Air and later, a MacBook Pro I previously used as my mobile machines.
Apple iPhone 8 Plus is used as my daily driver.
Cameras & Gear
1st generation Apple iPad with ProPrompter PRO Mobile used as a teleprompter for vlogging in-studio.