Hi, friends!

It’s no secret that we’ve done a lot of traveling in the past few years! Just in the last two months alone, we’ve been in San Diego, LA, Nantucket, D.C., Richmond, Fredericksburg, Virginia Beach, Nashville, Denver and we’ve taken five separate road trips for work up north to Sedona or Flagstaff! Phew! That’s a whole lot of traveling! Which is why it’s no surprise that we get asked all the time how we edit on the road. So, today, we thought we’d share some of our favorite tricks to make that happen!

Here’s how we:

1. Stay Charged Up

Whenever we know we’re going on a road trip, taking a flight, or spending a lot of time in a rental car, we never leave home without a portable charging system for our laptops and phones. If we’re going to be car bound, we use the Bestek Dual Outlet Car Charger, which allows us to plug into the car’s power adapter and charge two laptops with both of the three-pronged outlets as well as both of our phones with the two USB outlets all at the same time.

When we’re going to be in the air, we always pack our HyperJuice External Battery for MacBook Pro, which is strong enough to keep our MacBook Pro running for up to eight hours AND can simultaneously charge both of our phones! It’s definitely bulky — and it definitely wasn’t cheap! — but we can’t even tell you how many hours and hours this thing has SAVED us! As business owners, we know that time is our most valuable asset, so there’s really nothing we hate more than wasting it during flights, layovers or delays because our laptops are dead and we can’t get to an outlet. Every since we got the Hyperjuice, we’ve been free to use every minute the way we wanted to without stressing about batteries, outlets or dying devices. So, in our minds, this battery was worth the investment the very first time we took a coast-to-coast trip!

2. Edit Anywhere

We’re SO privileged that there are two of us every time we travel, and we always try to remind ourselves to never take that for granted, because we know that not everyone is in a situation like ours, but for anyone who travels with a spouse, business partner, second shooter or friend, we love to use that road-trip time in the car effectively so that we can enjoy quality time together when we get to our destination. This means one person drives and the other edits in the passenger seat. The problem we ran into early on, though, was that road trips during the day were so hard for editing! The bright sun would pour into the windows, hit the screen, and make it nearly impossible to edit for correct skin tones. After contemplating all kinds of ghetto-fab solutions (including wedging a shirt from our suitcase into the car window to make a “curtain” until we realized we’d be blocking the side mirror view!) we realized that we like using our soft box the most! It pops around our computer and blocks direct light from hitting the screen, and it’s also flexible, foldable, and easy to transport. There are companies that invented products specifically for this purpose, but we’ve found our soft box works great and that saves us money! Plus, as we always say, we’d rather be profitable than cool!

3. Go Cordless (Build Smart Previews in Lightroom)

In order to keep our working drive (the one in the laptop) running at its best capacity, we store and edit all of our files on external hard drives. When we’re traveling (or even just sitting on the couch at home!) we hate being connected to a bunch of cords, though! It’s like a hospital bed for your computer! They’re cumbersome and make airplanes feel even smaller! Back in the day, we didn’t really have a choice, though, because we had to be plugged into our external hard drive (where all our RAW files are stored) to be able to make any edits to our images in Lightroom.

Our world was rocked when Adobe released Lightroom 5, which for the first time offered the ability to make a new kind of preview! The “smart preview!” The reason we always build smart previews upon import is, once they are built, we can make any change we want to the images WITHOUT having to be plugged in to anything!! Without having to be plugged into anything!! It’s so freeing! In previous versions of Lightroom, you’d see a big question mark if you ever tried to edit an image without being plugged into the original file and you couldn’t edit anything until it was plugged in. But not with smart previews! Smart previews are also super small files, so we can store them on our working drive without taking up a ton of space, and it means we can go cordless on planes and in cars! We can even export edited images from our smart previews for web (like a blog post for example). The only trick is remembering to plug our external drive back into the computer when we’re exporting the final images for the clients, so that we’re exporting the big, original files. Be careful with this part!


If you’ve never built smart previews before, and you edit on a  laptop, you’ve got to give this a try! When you first import your photos into a Lightroom catalog, make sure your external drive is connected to your computer, and then just go to the top right-hand corner of Lightroom 5 under “File Handling,” and you’ll see a small check box towards the top of the import module that says “Build Smart Previews.” Check it before you click import, and then do something else while it’s building your previews (we build standard previews too, so that there’s no rendering lag time between each photo). Once it’s done, you can safely eject your external hard drive and feel free to move about the cabin! You can make any kind of edits you want without being connected to the source! When you’re done editing the job, just plug your external hard drive back in so it can export the biggest, original size files! Boom! Freedom!


Have a Question You Want Answered?
Send an email to info[at]amyandjordan.com with your question and we’ll do our best to answer it in an upcoming blog post!




filed in: Education

    Malia Johnson

    Loved this Post Amy & Jordan! Thanks so much for sharing! Didn't even think about the Smart previews making editing unplugged a possibility! You two are awesome!

    Amy & Jordan

    You bet, Malia! We're SO glad it was helpful! Big hugs, friend!

    Amanda Hacker

    I absolutely love your work and look up to you both so much. I struggle with my editing now. How do you get your pictures so bright and creamy looking? Thanks so much!!

    Amy & Jordan

    Thank you so much!! Check out this post: http://amyandjordanblog.com/2014/education/achieve-creamy-backgrounds/

    Caro Chase

    Thanks for this...I've been confused about smart previews ever since they launched and your explanation of why they're useful to you two was so well articulated that it finally clicked for me, I don't love them the same way, but understanding them is the first step!

    Amy & Jordan

    We're so glad you enjoyed the post, Caro!! Thank you! :)


    Wow! This post was really helpful. But I am wondering...when you guys import your photos, do you convert the RAW files to a DNG?

    Amy & Jordan

    Nope! Just the RAWs :)