I have been working on a lecture to give to students on how to prepare an engaging audio slideshow and thought I would share a list of tips and tricks that I have collected. These students have already learnt photography and audio storytelling and editing skills – so this lecture is more on how to create an engaging story with still photographs and sound.
As I have previously mentioned in this blog, I don’t believe Australian media organisations are making the most of this powerful storytelling tool. As such, I have looked to US examples to provide this list of tips for audio slideshows:
- Use a combination of natural sound, interviews and narration to tell a strong story.
- Ensure you contextualise a story – either through two pars or voice narration.
- Ensure date and location are not left out.
- Don’t write captions that are only repeating what is in the photo – value add.
- Ensure all people in the photographs are identified with first and last name.
- Start with natural sound to ease your viewer into the story.
- Make narration/ interviews match the image – it might sound obvious there numerous slideshows out there that have one person speaking while showing a picture of another.
- Ensure audio is well voiced and cut. Quick narration or sloppy editing is sure turnoff.
- Don’t have dead air sound gaps in your audio narrative. Cross-fade your audio between clips or add room tone to prevent this at all costs.
- Following on from the previous point record at least one-minute of ‘room sound’ prior to each interview to use for dead air spots
- Ensure the show is properly paced. As a general rule of thumb you should have five seconds per photo.
Want to see where all of these tips come together?
This has to be one of my favourite audio slideshows that incorporates all of the tips above:
Chicago Tribune’s Voices of Altgeld, which tells the story of the transformation of some public housing.
Other great examples can be found at