The “Dos” and “Don’ts” of Photo Editing at Starbucks

Everyone needs a change of scenery now-and-then to keep their sanity intact––especially when your office doubles as your living space.  A majority of the work we do as photographers is done in the home office, so t’s only natural to want to venture into the outside world.  I have completed tons of edits, e-mails, website updates, etc., at my local Starbucks.  Or better yet, when I was still working for Starbucks at my own store.  It’s a wonderful place to hole up for a few hours; free WiFi, steady supply of caffeine, and good people watching.  But take it from a former Starbucks employee––you can overstay your welcome.

  • DO order a drink
    • WiFi access, while complimentary at company-operated Starbucks locations, is for customers only.  If you sit in the café with your laptop and various electronic devices out and have yet to order anything, you will be asked to leave.
  • DO be aware of the store’s hours.
    • And in that same vein, be ready to pack it up before closing time.  The staff has tons of stuff to do that they cannot begin until everyone has left the store.  10:00pm is not when you pack up your gear… it’s when you leave!
  • DO keep an eye on your gear at all times.
    • Bring a jacket or something to put on your seat while you use the restroom so you don’t lose the comfy chair near the outlet.  Just make sure you bring anything and everything expensive with you to the restroom.  I generally only have my laptop and a card reader and some notebooks, which I will pack up every time I have to relieve myself.  You would be surprised how quickly things get stolen at Starbucks, especially in Los Angeles.
    • In that same vein, the staff and management is not liable when things are stolen.  And while there are security cameras, they’re mostly for the use of law enforcement in the event of a serious crime.
  • DO NOT bring an entire studio setup to a coffee shop.
    • This probably sounds ridiculous, but on four separate occasions while working at the Starbucks on Melrose I witnessed customers set up their desktop iMac or Mac Pro.  Not only are you putting your everything at risk, you’re being a douchebag!  No one wants to see a gigantic computer while their trying to relax.  And keep the sound to the headphones.  If you’re editing video and need something louder, Starbucks is not the place to be.
  • DO be courteous to the staff
    • This is particularly weird coming from me because I notoriously keep to myself.  If you’re at a Starbucks (or any coffee shop… Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf) that you frequent, introducing yourself to the baristas may open up possibilities you never knew existed.  I was once behind that counter (not that that’s saying much but, hey).
  • DO find a seat that is closest to the back room.
    • This has to do with WiFi connectivity.  Starbucks locations have their WiFi routers housed in or near the back room, so the strongest signal will be as close to that area as possible!

Those are the basics off of the top of my head.  Bottom line: be nice and you will have a wonderful brief vacation from your desk space.