Five photography essentials (and they have nothing to do with gear)

Forget about a specific lens or camera, these are the things that keep me going day to day as a working photographer. 


The tried and true elixir of creatives around the world. Plenty of sunrise shoots, client meetings and late night edits have been fueled by this nectar of the gods. It seems like an obvious pick, but the benefits of coffee cannot be overstated enough. Aside from the health benefits, coffee might even get your creativity going too. 

My personal favorite comes from Denver’s Novo Coffee. Give me a French press with some Novo and everything is good.


If you’ve been following my Instagram lately you’ve probably noticed an increase in cycling images. In the last year I’ve gone from casually riding a commuter bike around town, to obsessively tracking my routes on Strava and drooling over Rapha gear. Cycling opens up a stream of ideas that seem to appear when I’m out on a ride, not thinking about anything in particular. It’s been massively helpful in organizing my thoughts, developing ideas for personal projects, and just keeping the stress level to a minimum. 

I’ve made a practice of trying to start every weekday off with a 20 - 35 mile ride before getting to work, and I find my productivity through the rest of the day goes up dramatically.


Working as a self employed photographer can mean spending a fair amount of your time alone, whether it’s traveling to a shoot or hours on the computer editing. Podcasts have gotten me through some long drives and editing sessions, and they’ve been especially helpful when I hit a creative rut. 

There’s no shortage to choose from but I’ve been especially enjoying The Tim Ferriss Show, The Joe Rogan Experience, and Off Camera with Sam Jones.

Tim Ferriss’ podcast has a mix of interesting people, with incredible stories and an approach toward life, all processed through Tim’s analytical interviewing. The episode with Rick Rubin was fascinating and absolutely worth checking out, among others.

The Joe Rogan Experience struck a chord with me because of Joe’s musings about what it takes to become a professional comedian. His stories about how he continuously works at his craft, always trying to tweak and improve his abilities sounds identical to working in a creative field like photography or otherwise. Aside from some really interesting guests, Joe’s podcast routinely has awesome comedians on too, another reason to give it a listen.

I just recently found Sam Jones’ Off Camera podcast, and aside from being an incredible photographer, Sam’s easy demeanor makes his conversations with the celebrities he’s photographed great to listen to. Similar to the other podcasts mentioned above, the guests on Sam’s podcast usually have some anecdotes about the realities and experiences of working in an artistic field, which are reassuring to hear when you’re going through the ups and downs of pursuing a career in creativity. 


Beers, coffee, etc. There’s nothing like meeting up with friends who work in the same industry and shooting the proverbial shit, trading war stories and getting a sound perspective on what’s happening in your industry. I try to get together with other photographers as well as copywriters, art directors, etc. as often as possible. It can be really refreshing and helpful to hash out ideas together, and the potential for collaboration always seems to lead to creating new, interesting work. 

If Denver’s weather is good I hit the roof at Linger, otherwise I’m probably enjoying some Graham Cracker Porter at Denver Beer Co. or a coffee at Black Eye.


It’s hard to put a price on education or a good honest critique, let alone the ability to ask questions and get honest helpful feedback, which is what makes workshops and portfolio reviews entirely worth it. 

After going to a 3 day workshop run by outdoor photo boss Tim Kemple at the first Telluride Photo Festival in 2010, I knew the modest cost to attend was well worth the amount of insight and information I got from going. Five years later I still refer to the notes I took about commercial photography and the business side of things. Since then I’ve gone to a few more workshops and portfolio reviews, and have never regretted going to any of them. Forget buying more gear and instead invest in a workshop. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll regret going.

Have some photography essentials of your own? Feel free to comment below, bonus points if you provide some links!

Using Format