Session Board Origins

This week I will be presenting Session Board at an event celebrating the 4 year birthday of CoWorking Night. You can think of it as a weekly mini technical conference here in Huntsville AL. I have been involved in the local creative and tech community from the early beginnings of CoWorking Night, so I’m thrilled to be able to show what I have been able to put together in Session Board.

As I started putting together a collection of information on Session Board – beginning with the Introducing Session Board post that I originally posted on Medium – I realized that I had never recorded the initial thoughts that turned into the product so far.

In The Beginning

The idea began in 2013 when my wife and I worked with a local natural light portrait photographer (and friend) Olivia Reed to capture some lifestyle portraits. While I enjoyed the photo session and loved the results, it felt very awkward to me. Like most of the population – I’m not a model. I have no idea how to stand, where to put my hands, or how to look in general.

I remember making the statement “If you could just show me a picture it would be a lot easier.” This was the beginning of Session Board. I worked through several ideas trying to find a way for a photographer to work with a client during a session. An early form of this was simply a way to copy images to a document that could be shown on a tablet. It quickly turned into a method of visual collaboration to plan the photo session.

Putting It Together

Luckily at about the same time I came across the Pinterest API and figured out how to pull multiple Pinterest boards into the same session. Having a technical software background, as well as a photography background, I was off to the races. The problem is that the technical side is less than half of the story.

  • How do I know that I’m building the right thing?
  • How do I let people know that Session Board even exists?
  • Do I have to start a business for this, and if so how?

Here’s where I get lucky again! As I finally got the prototype going, a several things came together here in Huntsville. A group of local hackers called “Hack Huntsville” combined with a group creating a Code for America branch in Huntsville to start a weekly meetup – now called CoWorking Night. It was through this collection of various creative professionals that I was able to work through my non-technical issues.

Finding The Missing Pieces

The group of people behind CoWorking Night formed a non-profit called Urban Engine with a mission to “Propel Ideas Forward”. My idea is one of many that was propelled by the collective resource available through Urban Engine. I was able to get some solid advice on how to validate the features that I had in mind for Session Board.

There are a few groups in particular that I have found very helpful at CoWorking Night:

  • On Target Marketing – how to get started with social media marketing
  • Writers 4 Writers – ideas for starting this blog to share various ways of using Session Board – combined with On Target Marketing for how to create and measure traffic
  • Designer’s Corner – thoughts on how to approach design and work with designers

Along with CoWorking Night, another group coordinated by Urban Engine is 32/10. The 32/10 group is focused on learning how successful startups were founded and discussion around how the approaches may work here in Huntsville. These discussions have led me to learn much more about the Lean Startup approach as well as Lean User Research.

Next Steps

That brings us to the present, where I’ll be presenting Session Board at the 4 year celebration of CoWorking Night. The project has come a long way since the beginning, but I still need help in several areas. The main place that I need help is with testing. My goal is to find 10 photographers that will use Session Board with their clients in order to make sure that it meets their needs. If you would like to be one of these 10 photographers and get unlimited access to Session Board, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post!

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