Tips on making a good audio photo slideshow: Visual variety, nat sound, noise-free narration

I want to use an NPPA multimedia contest winning audio photo slideshow, Sister Judy, to discuss three tips for producing a good slideshow: visual variety, nat sound, and noise-free recording.

1. Shoot for visual variety: as in video production, medium shots are the bread and butter in a photo slideshow. However, a photographer needs to shoot and use wide shots and close-up shots for visual variety. Here, the “wide, medium, tight, tight” video shooting guideline works just as well.

See below for screen shots of a sequence from the “Sister Judy” slideshow: wide, medium, tight, tight. Although such sequence is not being repeated throughout, we do see the producer interspersing the editing with different wide and close-up shots.

2. Use of natural sound: a technique is to open the piece with some natural sound, and continue to use nat sound to break long narration/talk.

The Sister Judy piece begins with sound of choir singing, which goes under when Judy’s talk begins. Her talking is interspersed with two nat sound breaks, each with relevant photos and full sound.

The idea is, sound photo slideshows make heavy use of narrations or subject talking, and it’s a bad idea to have the person drone for several minutes non-stop.

3. Noise-free sound recording: whenever possible, record the narration or subject talking in a quiet environment. Seriously. It’s like I always tell students to use tripod for solid images. Noise-free recording is the hallmark of professional audio recording.

In this slideshow, the subject’s talking was without any background or ambient noise, and it mixes nicely with the background sound track of choir singing.

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About Mu Lin

Dr. Mu Lin is a digital journalism professional and educator in New Jersey, United States. Dr. Lin manages an online marketing company. He also manages MulinBlog Online J-School (, a free online journalism training program, which offers courses such as Audio Slideshow Storytelling; Introduction to Social Media Marketing; Writing for the Web; Google Mapping for Communicators; Introduction to Data Visualization; Introduction to Web Metrics and Google Analytics.
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