Visual art is one of the most impactful and influential means to bring change in our world.
Now more than ever, as artists we have an opportunity and often responsibility to share hope, give testament to events, evoke action and bring awareness to causes and needs in our community.
As a photographer with an editorial focus, I often use slideshows to showcase my images and combine video and stills to convey a story, message and sentiment from my body of work. At first, it was a bit overwhelming (and if I’m honest scary) to incorporate other presentation tools but since doing so it has helped elevate my work and provided emotionally compelling experiences for my clients. My only regret is not starting sooner. If you are tinkering or struggling with slideshows or video here are a few of my go-to tips to help you succeed.
- Be mindful in your captures to include images in a horizontal orientation which work best in both slideshows and video presentations. If you find that you mostly take images in vertical orientation practice switching it up to give yourself more options for full-frame in your presentation that result in a more seamless viewing experience.
- Keep in mind that filling your frame can also result in losing parts of your capture so step back and give your subject(s) room to breathe, avoid cropping in camera. This is not only helpful for video and slideshows but also later for printing purposes.
- Remember to capture a few environmental stills and video clips which make a great introduction, ending and transitional sections to your story. When I first started to do this, I often was too flustered to efficiently do this during a session so I started dedicating time before and after a session to get what I needed. Now that I’ve had more practice I’ve become more fluid and intentional with shooting hybrid so it has become easier for me to capture what I need throughout the session. Often clients aren’t even aware that I’ve capture video or detail stills until their reveal, which greatly enhances the emotional factor.
- Capture movement, let it unfold before you at first to minimize shake or blur (be still). Use your environment (wind, water, gravity etc) have patience and allow your subject time to offer movement to your story. Play with camera settings to achieve beautiful motion captures, for example, a slower shutter speed will give water a dreamy look, give faster moving objects or subjects a sense of speed and higher frames per second gives you options to slow and enhance movement in the video. Practice grounded body mechanics to incorporate tiny smooth panning movement to video. This is like salt, a little goes a long way.
Choose images with intent, not all images are created equal. One of the biggest struggles is narrowing down the number of images we use in slideshows.
- Instead of “keeping” all the good ones, think “selecting” the best of the best. 10-15 images are all you need for an impactful presentation-Confidence and decisiveness goes a long way.
- Select images that are unique from one another, using too many that look alike diminishes their impact and also can make it harder to distinguish one from the other.
- Include a few images or video clips that showcase the session details to establish a tone and tell a story.
- Keep your slideshow short, ideally less than 1 min for stills only presentations and under 2 minutes for hybrid still and video films.
Use the right music! Music can greatly enhance or detract from your visual presentation. As a photographer, it’s often one of the most challenging pieces of creating a presentation, therefore keep it simple and choose wisely.
- When using slideshow software or services avoid templates that don’t give you options over your music selection.
- Ask for help-I’m often asked how I go about my music selection and I honestly have to admit I’m lucky because that I have access to artists in my life to help me with this piece of the puzzle and although we sometimes still disagree over the “chicken or the egg” when it comes to music first or presentation first we all can agree that the right music selection is crucial, so I allow them to help guide me to find, create and or modify the right piece.
- Choose ONE song instead of several to set the tone and mood of your presentation. Not only will this keep your slideshow short but will keep it seamless.
- Instrumental songs tend to be easier to work with and minimize distractions.
- Collaborate with other artists, music, video production and post-production artists are looking for ways to showcase their work as much as you are looking to showcase yours. Join forces and get the best of all worlds.
- Use royalty-free or original pieces that give you full sharing and selling rights. Many companies specialize in royalty-free music and offer single song purchase or memberships. Free options can also be found online but make sure you understand fully your usage rights. Always give credit to the work of other artists.
- If you incorporate a spoken message (i.e wedding vows, adjust the music to allow for words to be clearly understood).
- Be mindful of transitions both in speed, sound and visibility. Subtle movement is always best for a seamless presentation. Avoid overdoing a transition, effect or action.
- Keep font usage to titles and credits, do not clutter or distract from your beautiful images by placing font over them. Create a blank slide for words and messaging, use one consistent font at an appropriate size and test the readability both in pace and clarity.
- Keep your slideshow or video clean by minimizing advertising type of verbiage. You will have an opportunity to include this type of language in your post or Ad. A clean logo or website is fine but avoid cluttering your beautiful presentation with too much information.
- Keep colours and fonts consistent with your branding
- When using template services invest a little to remove their branding on your presentation.
- Proofread text and give extra attention to details in images and clips, take the extra time to clean up stills and clips.
- When complete, export and save your file in the size and format to best fit the viewing platform you plan to use (For example Facebook vs Vimeo etc.)
AND the final and most important tip I can give you is… no matter what have fun & JUST DO IT! Make one today, don’t wait until it’s all perfect because it will just never happen. Start somewhere and give yourself grace.
Making slideshows and videos has been one of the smartest most fruitful chances I’ve taken in my photography career and it took time. In the end, I’m really glad I took a chance because my clients love them and it sets me apart in a very saturated market.
Brand Strategist & Visual Artist
Blossom Blue Studios, Long Beach CA