When you're taking your laptop (or, maybe desktop for a big shoot) on location to an assignment, what does your desktop look like? Is it professional? Helpful?
Typically, when the laptop - which is technically referred to as our "Digital Imaging Workstation" on invoices, comes out, the client is incuring charges for the convenience of having an imaging workstation on site, where they can preview images, edit captions, and via high speed wireless immediately deliver images, while still on site. It's akin to a client hiring a videographer, and having a satellite truck on site to accomplish that task. In that case, Sat trucks start at about $5k and go up. The point is, when providing that service, there is an appropriate charge, usually quantified per e-mail, that accompanies that use. So, you want to ensure that the client isn't seeing images of your family, you on vacation somewhere, or something otherwise unprofessional. Plus, it takes like 30 seconds to switch the desktop to a professional look, so just do that when heading out on an assignment.
If you have dozens of files on the desktop, clear it off! Make a folder titled "Desktop Files - as of Feb2907" and just put everything in there. You can always move it out afterwards, but a client looking over your shoulder at the screen could see files you don't want them to - like other client folders, or other ad agency/magazine folders.
Your desktop should serve as a backdrop and tool to help you accomplish your work. Colored backdrops can throw your eye off, so I took the standard backdrop that I liked, and made it greyscale, I then added my logo, and a 10-step greyscale. This ensures that I can see that I can render all the levels of brightness, and, is often a question asked by the client -- "What's that?" I respond "Oh, that is a greyscale that ensures that while we are editing your photos, that we can faithfully see the entire scale of brightness as we are working on them." Clients respond well to that.
Here's the logo/greyscale that appears on my desktop:
By clicking on the graphic, my entire desktop graphic comes up, which is 1,600 x 1,024 pixels, properly fit for my laptop. I have different sizes for each my my machines. When you create your own custom desktop, whether for a 12" laptop, or a 30" LCD, do so at whatever resolution settings you have chosen.
It's the little things like this that add to a clients' overall perception of you as a professional, and one that knows what they're doing.
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