Slide shows or photo montage videos… you see them at weddings, graduations, big birthdays, anniversaries, and other celebrations where people want to show off a person or family over time. You’ve probably seen some great ones, and some really bad ones. What makes for a good slide show?
Gathering a group of photos together to share with people is like telling a story. You want a beginning, a middle, and an end! A good story engages your emotions. It has a theme. There are twists and unexpected turns in the plot, but it doesn’t leave any loose ends. A good story is economical! Everything in the story (read every picture) has a purpose and moves the plot forward. There are no extraneous parts. Stories engage our minds and make us think. There is pathos; you feel something, but not just for the sake of emotion. After watching a good slide show, you have experienced all these things, often without even realizing it.
Sounds simple, but it’s not always easy. Most people gather way too many photos to stuff into a photo montage. Just like sitting down to look at hundreds or thousands of your friends vacation photos is overwhelming, a slide show that is too long will have your audience losing interest and wondering when it will be over! Tell your story with a few great pictures. People want to have time to look at the photos. That means 3-4 seconds per image minimum, which translates to only 10 to 15 images per minute!
Depending on the setting and reason for your slide show, 2 – 8 minutes are what most people will sit and watch. Yes we all have short attention spans and you need to know that when doing a slide show. If everyone will watch the show together as a presentation, think short and sweet! If people will pass by and watch bits and pieces of a show that loops, you can do a longer show. I’ve seen some great slide shows at wedding receptions that have a few people at a time laughing and talking about the couple. That group moves on and more people watch for a few minutes. Longer shows are good for filling time while people are waiting for the next event to start or the guest of honor to arrive. Once you have everyone there and are all watching together, shorter is better!
A theme really helps focus your slide show and helps you sort through all the photos. It can be a person, a place, the adventure you had on vacation or the joy at the birth of a baby. It could be how relaxing or action packed your vacation was. As you look through your photos, is there a theme that emerges? It may not be in all the photos, but if there is a theme that you find in many of them, look at just those photos and pare down from there. Once you have your theme, only put the images that tell that story into your show.
Choosing music that goes with your theme will create the right mood and set the timing of your slide show. Music without words gives you more leeway. If there are words, you will want to pay attention to them and watch what images are going with the words. You don’t want the words and images clashing. The other aspect of music is that you will need to purchase a license for the music, or find royalty free music. I recommend and use www.songfreedom.com for this. Many people don’t realize you need a license for the music, but if you want to share it on YouTube, or show it to a group of people, it is no longer private use and you need that license or the music needs to be royalty free with permission to play in public.
There are many programs for making slide shows. If you have a computer, it probably came with a program that will make a slide show. There will be limitations, but you can do it yourself. When you want fancier transitions, motion and 3D effects, you either need to purchase a much more expensive program or hire someone to do it for you. The person you hire should be able to scan any printed photos you want to include in the show, and do any editing the photos might need.
We have done several slide shows for both individuals and businesses for a variety of events. If you need help or have questions, contact us or leave a comment below. We’d love to help tell your story.