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.
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.
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.
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!
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.