Technology has really evolved in a way that has made it possible for people to work more efficiently on the go. I used to remember when laptops were barely able to keep up with Photoshop and working on the road was a huge pain. Now it’s changed drastically!
I am a working and traveling retoucher, photographer, and co-founder of Infinite Tools. This year alone I’ve had the pleasure of traveling and working in places like Cape Town, Iceland, and Namibia! Whether it’s going abroad or locally, I always need to be able to retouch client work and I wanted a setup that could adapt to home and travel life. After all, sometimes I am only home for a bit and even when I’m home, I like to work in different locations to change things up.
I now work off a MacBook Pro and an external monitor versus using a dedicated PC (which is what I used to do). This decision was made once I realized that the MacBook could run PS without a hitch and could edit short videos quite well. This setup isn’t for everyone but it was the one I settled into and felt like sharing. Take it for what it’s worth to you in case you’re inclined to try!
My current technical specs are as follows:
- Laptop: MacBook Pro 2019 (2.3 GHz 8-core Intel Core i9).
Ram: 64 GB of DDR4 memory
Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5500M 8GB
I don’t have the M1 yet because this actually handles everything without any hiccups! Even when plugged into a second monitor. So I haven’t had a need to upgrade.
- Wacom: Intuos Pro Medium
I only keep half of the tablet active. The other half acts as a nice mouse pad honestly. I think a small version would be just fine as well to save space in the laptop bag too, but the way the mouse is positioned makes it easy to transition between retouching and using the mouse on the same surface.
- Mouse: Logitech MX Anywhere 3
The form factor and also the scroll wheel are incredible. You could also get the bigger brother but I prefer the smaller form and it fits in the laptop bag easily too.
- Keyboard: Logitech MX Keys Mini
I used to use the Apple Keyboard but I found the MX Keys like an evolution of the Apple keyboard with grooves to make it a better typing experience. The feel of the keys is better and looks more premium as well. The buttons are built with a better coating or material as well to make it more enjoyable. They also connect to 3 devices and you can switch between them with a button.
I use an Amazon keyboard tray that I use on my Ikea desk and it allows for better posture and comfort when working.
- Monitor: NEC PA272W
My wide gamut of choice, I’ve had it for a few years and it’s calibrated by a Calibrite ColorChecker Display equivalent for the NEC. I don’t think they sell these monitors anymore.
You’ll see in the photograph at the top of this article that the four ports are all being used up on my MacBook and here is what they all do.
On the top left, that port connects to my external device.
On the bottom left, you’ll see that port is actually connected to my HooToo Suite Dongle, which leads to 3 USB-A ports and also has one USB-C port that you connect power through. I usually do have it connected but I didn’t in the photo due to it looking cleaner.
2 of my ports on the dongle are usually connected. One is for the Wacom tablet because BlueTooth is completely unreliable with it. It’s really slow! The second is a connection to a Hard Drive dock where I backup my photos or retouching work. It’s a pretty fast port so I haven’t had a lot of issues with speed. The dock I have is called the HooToo dock. I have a 3rd port active in case I need to connect a random drive, charging cable or whatever else.
On the right side, I have 2 SSD drives connected, one is primarily for my retouching work and the second is for my photography and documents etc. They’re both Samsung T-series 2 TB drives and they’re usually my most active projects.
The dock I have connected connects my Western Digital Red drives that I offload and copy to a duplicate. The dock I have is from a company called OWC. In the photo, you’ll also see another SSD drive that I had as an archive.
When I need to move around, I simply disconnect the left side and I am completely able to move around. I work on everything from the external drives connected to the right side.
And when I need to pack up my laptop bag, I simply eject my drives and store them together with the laptop.
In my laptop bag, I also have a duplicate set of SSD drives to mirror my working drives to on the road. I will utilize cloud syncing if I have the speed to do so on the road as well. All my “final” work always ends up on DropBox so I definitely have access to most of my work when I need it, too.
I’m completely aware that this setup isn’t perfect, and it can be improved greatly. For instance, I don’t particularly use a RAID/NAS and really need to look into it! Currently, I’m primarily syncing with software to external drives at intervals and that will be my biggest upgrade.
About the Author
Pratik Naik is a high-end retoucher, photographer, and retouching teacher under his Infinite Tools brand, he also runs the successful Retouchist Blog and is one of the co-founders of Infinite Tools. You can follow Pratik on his Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook