The top four workspace essentials for photographers and designers

I have decided that in order to have optimal efficiency and effectiveness at running a creative business or being in an employee role that requires extended time sitting at a desk in front of a computer, one needs four high-quality essential things:

1. A stable, comfortable, ergonomic office chair that ideally didn’t come from either the sale section of Ikea or from in front of a neighbor’s house
2. A quality, easy-to-use keyboard that enables you to type fast
3. A large, high-quality, high-resolution, properly-calibrated monitor
4. Headphones with good sound and ideally noise-blocking capabilities, especially if one is sensitive to noise interrupting their focus (

Until recently, I had none of those things. I am frugal to a fault, and unfortunately it has taken me this long (12 years in business) to fully understand why spending a bit more money on things I use all the time every day is so critical to my work success. Here’s my current, and sad, situation in my home office:

  • Recently I replaced my beloved but discontinued white leather office chair with a similar but severely uncomfortable tan chair (by the way- not all chairs of that design are created equal). I chose color over function and comfort. Bad idea.
  • I’m using the standard Apple keyboard, which I loathe. (It cuts my WPM in half, easily).
  • Although I love my 2010 30″ Apple Cinema Display (2560 x 1600), it now has weird dark ‘bleeding’ on the upper left part of the screen, and red discoloration at the bottom part. It doesn’t affect my ability to edit images yet, but it will soon I’m sure. I need to cut that off at the pass, because being able to see images properly on a screen is kind of important.
  • I was using cheap, crackly, horrible bluetooth headphones that looked cool but had terrible sound. And somehow they always died when I needed them the most.

Here are my solutions:

CHAIR: I am returning my beautiful-looking but ass-killing tan office chair to Amazon and am scouring Craigslist for used Herman Miller Aeron chairs, which are a dime a dozen here in San Francisco. I’m hoping the chair I get will last a very very long time, unlike the failed VC-funded startup I will most likely buy it from.

KEYBOARD: Tomorrow I will be receiving the Matias Pro Quiet keyboard for mac. It was $144 not including tax. Crazy! But I reminded myself that the only other object I use more is my cell phone. Cannot wait to fire off a bunch of emails with that bad boy!!

MONITOR: I’ll get to that below. I need your help.

HEADPHONES: Last week I gulped hard and bought myself a pair of the Bose Quiet Comfort 25 headphones in white. Lawd have mercy I have seen (heard) the light!! Listening to music while I work and being able to truly tune everything out is incredibly helpful to me being efficient. I’m what’s called a ‘Highly Sensitive Person’, and unfortunately that means that I’m acutely aware of every little sound in my environment (was that a helicopter I just heard over the East Bay?), so these headphones have truly improved my quality of life. Were they worth the investment? Absolutely YES!!

So once I have the keyboard in front of me and can actually type, and am listening to my music through my Bose headphones and have the Herman Miller chair and can sit without my ass falling asleep, that leaves one important thing- the monitor.

This is where I need your help and advice.  

I know 4k monitors are all the rage these days.

Should I get one of those?

Are there specific brands I should be looking at?

Should I wait another six months for the technology to improve and the prices to (inevitably) come down? Does Apple have yet another over-priced yet desirable monitor product up their sleeves for this year? Will it be worth the hype?

What if I go with something that’s close to 4k but not quite? This LG Monitor has awesome reviews and is 3440×1440, has a thunderbolt port and is capable of a 4-screen split. Plus the product picture is very pretty, which is of course important when buying anything new. (Being facetious here).

Advice about monitors would be appreciated!

Do you agree with this list of the top four workspace essentials? What would you add to this list?

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June 8, 2015 - 4:23 pm

Terri Jacobson - I really love having two monitors. One of mine is 30 inches the other 29 inches.

I am constantly throwing something on the other monitor.

I also couldn’t live without my Wacom tablet. It’s as important as the keyboard and mouse.

June 9, 2015 - 8:26 am

Keith Cannataro - Hi Jamie,
I was constantly frustrated with how my calibrated iMac didn’t match what was coming from Bay Photo. They explicitly told me that iMac just don’t calibrate as well. I decided to purchase another monitor. I selected the NEC PA272W-BK-SV. It’s one of the high end monitors. Eizo was another recommended brand. Mostly I picked the NEC because another local photographer I know has it.

The model I chose came with what I believe is an NEC branded Xrite i1 Display Pro. The software has lots of choices to fine tune the white point and intensity which my colormunki for the iMac display did not have.

However, even though I’ve had it for months, I’m still not convinced I’ve got the calibration right. Bay has told me that metal prints come out darker than paper prints and my Epson 3880 prints more vibrant than Bay. If I can dial it for each situation, what the calibration software allows me to have a save preset that I can flip between if I was printing myself or what type of product Bay was printing.

As Terri mentioned, I do like having two monitors so I can use both screens. Lightroom on one and Photoshop on the NEC.

San Francisco Model Call for Major Commercial Campaign

Please read through the following and then click the link at the end of this post (or on the image above) to submit your dog(s) to our dog model call.  If you are chosen you will receive an email from us to schedule an in-person interview in late April in San Francisco.

Do you live in or near San Francisco? Does your dog love attention? Are they always the star of the show? Would you like to give your pooch a chance to be famous? Photographer Jamie Pflughoeft is shooting a large commercial campaign for a major pet brand in May, and she needs dog models of all breeds and sizes!

Here’s the scoop:

Dates: May 13th-20th 2015, at various locations in San Francisco. Each shoot will last for approximately 2 hours.

What we need: 15 different dog models


• 4 weeks to 8 years old (must be young-looking)
• *most breeds with some exceptions- please see below!
• healthy-looking
• lean weight (no overweight pooches)
• clean, straight teeth (no worn canines)
• clean fur (no tear stains or beard stains or visible scars)
• easily-viewable eyes (no heavy bangs)
• clear eyes (no cataracts or cloudy eyes)
• vibrant, full of personality, easy-going
• non-aggressive toward people or dogs of any kind
• manageable on a regular leash and flat fabric or leather collar (no prong collars or choke chains or head harnesses. chest harnesses ok, but need to be under control with regular collar)
• neutered (no unneutered males)
• obey basic commands such as sit, stay, down, come and leave-it (reliably)
• MUST play well with all other dogs and humans and be non-aggressive
• calm in chaotic environments around many people and distractions (used to being outdoors in different situations!)

Breeds we’d love to see (***but any breed qualifies as long as it’s not on the ‘no’ list below!!***):

Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, JRT (Jack Russel Terrier), Fox Terrier, Collie, Aussie,
Malamute, Basenji, Brussels Griffon, Boston Terrier, Frenchie, Poodle, Labradoodle, Goldendoodle, Havanese, Weimeraner (if laid-back), Viszla (if laid-back), Samoyed, German Shorthaired Pointer, Daschund, Pomeranian, Boston Terrier, Yorkie (if laid-back), Chihuahua (if laid-back), Beagle
Mixed breed mutts.

*Breeds unfortunately we can’t work with on this project (sorry!):

American Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bulldog, Basset Hound, Bloodhound, Bull Terrier, Bullmastiff, Cane Corso, Chow, Doberman Pinscher, Dogo Argentino, English Bulldog, German Shepherd, Leonberger, Mastiff (including Neopolitan), Pekingese, Pit Bull, Pug, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Rottweiler, Sharpei, Tosa Inu. (If you have one of these breeds, please feel free to submit them to the model database to be considered for future projects!)

What you get: Each participant will receive both monetary compensation and discounts on future products and services from Cowbelly Pet Photography and a guaranteed fun time.

And the dogs involved? Well they will be a star for a day and will receive boatloads of love, treats, praise and attention! And go home exhausted and happy.:-)

To submit your pooch for consideration, please complete the form on the following page: (there is no cost to submit or be in the database!)

The deadline for model submission is Friday April 24th, so please get your submission in ASAP.

Thanks so much and we look forward to hearing from you!


-Jamie Pflughoeft
Cowbelly Pet Photography owner/photographer







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April 18, 2015 - 8:58 am

Angela Vallecillo - I was reading your thing and since we can’t enter I wanted to know do you also do just photo shoots for dogs

April 18, 2015 - 11:25 am

Jamie Pflughoeft - Hi Angela,

I do! I provide photography to both commercial and private clients. You can get tons of information on my photography service, including the process, my rates and products I sell on my main website here: Or just drop me a line at and I am happy to answer your questions.

April 19, 2015 - 8:34 pm

Lisa Tomasi - We have a very photogenic jrt mix. Can’t find the linke to fill out application…it’s not hyperlinked, I think.?

Cheers! Looking forward to submitting Scooter!

June 10, 2015 - 3:41 am

Kristal Cobb Walsh - Hi Jamie thanks for the info on the essentials for the workspace. I am just trying to figure out how to get started near Pensacola, Florida. So many things I need and just have to prioritize for now. I bought your book a month ago and have almost finished it! I have a full time career so I am trying to start this business on the side and work up to full time. Would love to talk more privately when you have time but Your book is an awesome guide for now.

I find my peace at Golden Gate Park

Moving to San Francisco from Seattle in December 2014 was the fulfillment of a long-held dream. The fact that I found the love of my life here in SF made it even sweeter. The fact that he is a fellow photographer I have been friends with since 2009 is almost too good to be true. The fact that we found a great apartment to rent for our self-employed selves, AND our (unemployed) two cats and one dog (two self-employed people + 3 pets! In SF!), in one day of apartment-hunting (one day!), is nothing short of a miracle. But the reality of moving not just my home and all of my stuff and personal life, but also my photography business, to the most expensive city in the country, has had more than it’s fair share of stress and challenges.

One of the many things I am so grateful for is living in close proximity to one of the best parks on earth- Golden Gate Park. We are just five doors down from the park, which is about a 30-second walk, depending on breaks in traffic to get across the street. Once across the street and out of the neighborhood, the scent of eucalyptus fills the air. The trees sway in the ocean breeze, and the afternoon sunlight throws ‘god beams’ of sunshine into the many open fields. There are lakes and flowers and never-ending paths through woods, hidden groves of picnic areas, a walking/running/biking track, an angler’s pond in the middle of the forest, bison lounging in a big field, a disc golf course, a giant cross statue on a hill, an off-leash dog park, and meadows galore. And these are just the park amenities that are within a short walk of us.

When the pressures of small business overwhelm us, my love and I push back from our computers and head across the street to the park. It has become a magical, healing, soothing spot for us, and (I  think) Fergie as well. Sometimes we walk for 20 minutes; sometimes we walk for 2 hours. Sometimes we bring Fergie, but usually it’s just us, holding hands and walking and talking our worries away.

I will look back on this time in my life and forget the stress, the challenges, and the uncertainty about the future, and remember instead the greatness, the awe-inspiring nature, the magical discoveries and the beauty that is Golden Gate Park. A park that fills my heart with love and peace. Man am I lucky.

golden gate park image

Above: clockwise: Spreckles lake, flowers in the woods, Fergie at Lloyd Lake, and the Conservatory of Flowers.


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April 13, 2015 - 10:34 pm

Lauren A Miller - I just found your blog and recently read your book! I love your photos! We’ve been to Golden Gate park once before we moved back to Portland and I totally agree with you! That park is magical. That’s awesome that you get to live so close to it! 😀

April 18, 2015 - 11:29 am

Jamie Pflughoeft - Thank you for the compliments Lauren! :-) Portland has some pretty great parks too, but I agree, Golden Gate Park is magical.

June 11, 2015 - 8:00 am

Nia - Your photos are awesome! Moving to SF was definitely a good idea and now we see the rest of the big picture! Keep shooting such an amazing photos girl!