As a professional photographer, I have long been on the hunt for a sharing platform that is visual and also collaborative. I’m not talking about another social media site or a client gallery, but a working space where I can share images with clients and get their feedback as well as allow them to download the final full resolution files. I needed something organised and tidy, but also useful. As a photographer who shoots commercial look-books, fine art portraits and personal brand imagery, I need to work closely with my clients in the selection and editing process to ensure that they receive a final collection of photographs that encapsulates either their family and home design vision or business and brand needs. Sometimes that is a straightforward process, but often there is a bit of back and forth needed to finalise the number of shots and the overall look of the images. I am usually working with women just like myself, who are balancing home, children and professional life, so getting together around the same laptop to achieve this is often impossible. That is just one of the reasons why I have been searching for an online substitute to being in the same room.

Fine Art Portrait Commission Rachel Devine SesameEllis.com

Shoebox Timeline is a new site that really ticks a lot of the boxes for me. While the platform itself is still in the early stages of release and some little issues are to be expected, I have been lucky to watch it evolve from an even earlier incarnation and am impressed with how feedback is taken on board. I have worked with the developers and am confident that they are committed to making this a full featured photographic workspace like none other out there. The developers have been super responsive to not only any small issues encountered, but to my ideas for how the site could be even more useful. It is wonderful to see people working on something they are excited about.

Shoebox Timeline for Professional Photography and collaboration with clients SesameEllis.com

In addition to the fine art portraits and commercial sessions, I have been doing quite a few personal brand imagery photo shoots over the last few years. It is just getting more and more busy. These sessions are more than just headshots. I like to provide people with an entire collection of images that they can use for all sorts of media from editorial to marketing as well as simple profile photos. There is an art form to working with your clients to provide a comprehensively good experience that goes beyond the art of creating photographs. I truly feel like the age of photographers working alone and just delivering the images they want to deliver is over. I have never liked a hard sell pricing model, so I charge my clients along a one rate system. The rate varies with the number and size of final files that are included. To keep prices affordable for my headshot/branding clients and to free up time for myself, I have created a system that works quite well and I wanted to share it with you here. You can easily set everything up right after that first call and add images as you and your client work together from pre-shoot through the delivery of final files. It keeps the process organised.

Shoebox Timeline professional photography and collaborating with clients SesameEllis.com

 

Once I book a session, I can send the client an invitation to create a free account on Shoebox Timeline to get the collaboration process started immediately. To do the best job I can for each individual client, I need them to tell me all the ways they will be using the photographs. It is important that I see the dimensions of the website image frames if the clients already have their sites designed before booking the photography. With Shoebox Timeline, the client can just upload all of these ahead of the shoot. As I can control the Timeline setup, there is no learning curve for the client. Everything is set up for them ahead of time. I just request they add screenshots of their website and screenshots of inspirational images that they like to an event called “Inspiration and Goals”. This serves as a mood board that I can refer to again and again right inside the site where we will be working through their session.

Another thing I like to do is ask clients for words they wish people would think upon seeing their final photographs. This helps guide the shoot more than anything else.
During the photo session I make sure the client is getting all their different outfits covered in a wide range of settings. If they needed help choosing what to wear before we met, they can upload quick snaps of their clothing choices into the event on their Timeline. This saves us time on the day of the shoot.

After the session, I load the card of images onto my computer and do an initial cull of the ones which are blurry or unflattering. I do a quick raw conversion of the remaining files and upload those jpg files to an event on the Timeline called “Proofs”. The client can view those files at their convenience and move the ones they choose into an event folder called “Selects”. With the comment feature, the clients can leave notes for me directly alongside the images so we avoid a long email chain. I will begin the process of doing my final processing of the files they have chosen. As Shoebox Timeline allows for full resolution files to be stored and downloaded, I can load these final edited files into an Event called “Finals.” where my client can download them on their computer at home. Remember, they have already paid for these files when they paid their session fee as I work the files into the cost.

You can even create a slideshow right in the Event to embed on your blog or simply to let your clients share your awesome work!

Getting used to the way Shoebox Timeline works takes a small amount of adjustment as there is some different terminology from that which I was used to. Once you get the idea that the overall workspace is divided into different Timelines and what I would call galleries are referred to as Events, you are well on your way to an organised visual experience. No more folders represented by tiny icons. No more managing multiple sites to keep personal photographs separate from your work. All your work for clients can be found on Timelines in your one account and your clients never see anything but what you share with them. I can work on my garden renovation progress along with my husband in the same account where I am working with clients and neither knows the difference…

Sign up for your own free account today. Spend a little bit of time getting the feel for it and then get your visual life organised!

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Disclosure: I will be working with Shoebox Timeline to bring my Kid Photo Club to life in the next few months. As they will be helping the kids at my local primary school get books of their work printed, I am happy to review their service and help them make it the best platform for professional photographers.

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This weekend we went to the park. I know that is not a remarkable event by any means for our family, but I suddenly found myself drowning in a flood of years worth of memories of time spent in that place.

Winter weekend fun…

Just thinking about the years and years spent at this tiny little playground.

Posted by Sesame Ellis on Saturday, 18 June 2016

After we bought the house, but before we moved to Australia, we visited from Los Angeles and walked past a little park just one block from our new home. We let the tiny little Gemma have a play and daydreamed of our future kids walking there one day.

The first time the twins went to that playground, they were just thirteen days old. They were all bundled up in their pram and one block from home was as far as I could manage to go. I remember them barely big enough to sit in the baby swing. In fact, they had to ride backwards. Then there were hours and hours of me pushing them facing front. They grew too big for that swing and one day it was like I blinked and they were pumping their own legs. I really did think I would be pushing a swing for the rest of my life, but that was not the reality.

Nearly eight years have flown by and I am grateful that they still want to run and play. I am cherishing childhood even if it means they now want to shoot hoops and stand on top of the monkey bars.

I plan to take many more videos of their childhood downunder so that I can watch them over and over when they grow all the way up.

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Since creating my first commercial brand video for the blog with the Mercedes-Benz Valente, I have learned so much and am excited to be able to bring you these tips to help you start your own journey into making films! Even if you don’t blog and just want to record family moments, the first post in this little series where I revealed my mistakes and offered filming hints is a great little beginning resource.

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Films are just so powerful. They really do touch the soul of your viewers in so many more ways than still imagery in some situations. This can be an incredibly powerful and important tool for bloggers as they are called upon to deliver complicated brand messages to their audience while still keeping true to their own personal values. Films are also a brilliant way to supplement your family storytelling. Entire experiences like overseas holidays or birthday celebrations can be beautifully woven into a series of treasured moments to be watched and enjoyed over and over again for years to come.

First we should chat about filmmaking equipment. It is finally something that is quite affordable for most.

I have been shooting my little films using two different cameras. I use the Olympus OM-D E-M5 mark2 for all of my videos in the home studio. I also used it to create all the footage for the Mercedes video. If I am shooting for a client, I will use the best equipment that I have as I want to be assured of the best quality footage to start with. The in-camera stabilisation (the system that keeps the video capture smooth and not shaky) that comes with the Olympus is second to none. I am absolutely amazed at how easy it is to handhold the camera while keeping the footage still. The other advantage to using the Olympus is that I can attach my Rode VideoMic Pro, an external microphone to record sound properly, which is essential to the product reviews that Gemma and I do monthly.

The majority of my little family daily life films are just taken on my iPhone6. I have this with me most  all of the time. If the camera is with me, then it will be the camera I use. I don’t have a microphone to us e with the iPhone just yet, so I usually just remove the sound in the editing program and set the clips to music. Since I am mentioning it here, I will bring up the point that music needs to be properly licensed to be used in even your home movies. There are many sites where you can find royalty free music and purchase commercial rights to tracks. The song in the Mercedes-Benz Valente video was from PremiumBeat.com.

The actual filming is just half the process. While many people want to know how to get started, they often forget to ask about how to wrap it all up.

With that in mind, lets look at video editing.

video editing : the favourite apps for bloggers who want to make films : SesameEllis.com

Mick, my video editor uses Adobe Premier Pro and that is what he put my Mercedes-Benz Valente footage together with. Since I have the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, I have downloaded it to my Macbook Pro. I have yet to come anywhere near to mastering the controls, but I can see why it is the choice for many video professionals. It is on my list to learn as it also syncs with the iOS app to allow seamless video creation from iPhone to Macbook.

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The learning curve for any full featured program is a bit steep, but there are quick ways to get yourself a fully edited film without even having to learn any techniques. There are a few automatic apps that will take your footage and put it all together for you, but you lose some control in return for ease. My favourite of these apps is called Magisto. You can choose a theme and music, but the app will cut and edit the clips together for you. I pay for the yearly business subscription to get a bit more options, but it is still an app that asks for you to let go of control and embrace the surprise.

Filmrora on the Mac : SesameEllis.com

If you can’t swing the price for the most professional video editing apps out there, you can spend a little less and buy iMovie or my new favourite, Filmora. Both of these programs have iOS apps and Filmora is also available for Windows. These programs are quite easy to use and will let you have full control over the editing process including transitions between clips and title/text overlay.

No matter what the editing software that you choose, the key to a great little film is the story and how well you engage your viewers with that tale.

Final tip (for now) is to keep your video limited to 2 minutes. If you must, 3 minutes, but that is about the most anyone will actually watch to the end. After that your message is lost as people stop watching.

Do you want to learn more about how to “tell a little story”? Stay tuned, because Mick and I just might have something in the works for you!

 

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Gemma and I were busy bonding over simple beauty routines in May and June. Her review of the May box is up now as well as the one below that we shot for LUMA Cosmetics in the Bellabox office in Melbourne. Next week I will be sharing how I am making videos at home without my fantastic video editor to help me (I can only hire him for the big jobs where we are getting paid), but I certainly learned that a clip on mic is something to invest in for better audio… Next time! Check back Monday to see the rest of my tips on how you can do your own little films!

tween beauty bond sesameellis.com

Gemma has a lot of fun experimenting with beauty products at home and I love finding new things to add to my collection, so Bellabox is perfect for us!

 

 

Just a disclosure, we are not paid for these Bellabox opportunities, but they do send us our box as a gift subscription.

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  • Kelly J. R. - You two are so cute together. I’m really enjoying these Bellabox videos even though I’m not a big makeup wearer myself. Perhaps I will pick up some tips from Gemma as well. One request – Can you make the background music a little quieter in the next video? It was hard to hear Gemma talking in the May video. Otherwise, well done and I look forward to watching more!ReplyCancel


 

Something that has been on my radar for a while now is the rise of video content in the field of blogging. Blogging is an ever evolving career that really began as a forum for writers to shine. I entered on a side road via Flickr where those of us skilled in photography started sharing our stories. YouTube and Vimeo etc rose up for the filmmakers to join the arena. By the time Instagram and Facebook came into play all these different storytellers were sharing their tales through words, stills and moving pictures. Today blogs have become a multimedia filled destination for readers to experience. I have become a better writer because of blogging and now I am committed to learning how to be the best filmmaker I can be. Last week I shared the first video I did for a client with my Day in the Life of our family and the new Mercedes-Benz Valente. It was such a learning curve for me, so I am excited to share the mistakes I made and the top tips I have come away with for your own filmmaking journey.

Video tips to get you started adding film to your blog on SesameEllis.com

I knew that to do my best for a client on the first go I would need to practice by making little videos of my daily life as well as investing a bit of money into hiring a professional editor. I found learning how to string everything together well was the hardest part of the process. Thankfully I am now working with Mick Russell and have learned so much from him in the last month of really concentrating on making little films. He was able to push through all of my rookie mistakes and weave together a wonderful little film showing how the Mercedes-Benz Valente is a safe, practical and comfortable vehicle for a busy family.

Mick has added notes to a bit of the video he put together from my footage. He gave me a passing grade for my first try and I have made huge improvements since then. Have a look to learn from my mistakes and his advice as well and read on below for more detailed notes.

I have developed a list of top tips based on my own mistakes that will hopefully get you started making your own films.

Storyboard your ideas first. Even if you are just writing dot points down, having a shot list makes the entire film easier to compile. While I knew what I wanted to show about the Valente, I did not have a list of all my ideas. After I had already returned the car, I remembered a few of the things I had originally wanted to shoot!
Keep your individual clips to about 10 seconds. This was the biggest bit of gold I found out through the learning process. For the 2-3 second clips most of these short videos are made of, you are best to have 10 seconds to cut down.
Do multiple takes with different angles. You can use multiple cameras for this or just make sure that if you are filming on one device only that you get close up, medium distance and wide angle clips of every scene. Having these plus different angles means that you can edit together something a bit more dynamic and interesting that when you just have footage from one view.

One other major consideration to keep in mind when you are moving from shooting still to moving images is how to set up the camera properly. Most of the time, just shooting on Auto settings while you are getting started is an easy idea. If you would like some specific settings to begin with, try setting your shutter speed to 1/50, keep your ISO as low as possible (between 100 and 1250 depending on your lighting) and set the frame rate to 25 fps (frames per second.)

In the next instalment of this two part series, I will share with you the tools I use to shoot, edit and produce my little videos now and how I am learning to tell stories a bit differently. Check back next Monday for that post!

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