Portraits can be tricky. No matter your medium, capturing the essence of another person takes an empathetic ear, an artful eye, and a finely tuned skill set that documentary filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon has in spades. Aiming for interactivity, intimacy, and inclusion in her work, she highlights people and communities that often go unnoticed, bringing positive attention to corners of the world that may otherwise be misunderstood. Through the lens of her camera, it’s easy to see the beauty in the everyday and everyone.

What’s not so easy is figuring out exactly how she does it.

Fortunately for us, Elaine was willing to give us a look inside her mind with a shot-by-shot commentary on her short documentary film about the music duo Coyote & Crow. Watch as she deconstructs her observations and decisions throughout the film in this video, and check out her Skillshare class for an even more in-depth look at her process.

Elaine McMillion Sheldon shares more about technique and storytelling in her class Short Documentary Filmmaking: Creating Video Portraits, available with a Skillshare membership. You’ll learn how to discover and research compelling subjects, capture visuals and audio on your own, and how to polish and pitch your work.