Time-based audio-visual presentations

Like books, slideshows have a very ‘linear’ narrative, even more so than the photobook. The creator is in control of the order in which viewers see images and therefore has greater control over the meanings generated.

Victorian ‘magic lantern’ shows –  idea of projecting a photographic image onto a surface for a temporary duration rather than creating a hard copy to be exhibited

1960s, 70s and 80s  slideshow screenings at amateur international competitive events. Specialist equipment was developed, whereby two slide projectors would be automated (in terms of duration and opacity of each slide) whilst also playing a stereo soundtrack, all controlled by a domestic cassette tape.

Automated displays of photographs as for example web galleries are now very common. Slideshow galleries on WordPress and SmugMug, the Slideshow module in Lightroom and iPhoto, as well as Windows consumer software, make it easy to compile this type of automated slideshow quickly and easily. But these are limited – the main control being over the images themselves: which images are show in which order, manipulation of each image to vary the effect of eg colour, viewpoint and crop, sequencing to vary these effects in a meaningful way, and the content and style of any titles and text to reinforce or challenge the meaning in the image. Some software like lightroom Slideshow module allows narration, sound and/or music and mixing of photos with video.

More considered audio-visual presentations can be both works of art in themselves, and/or more effective as a means of promoting still images. Here the creator takes more control of the relative timing of viewing of each image – some take longer and some less time. There are also different types of transition. Effects can be superimposed to change the image – zooming and panning, changing colour and focus as each image is viewed, multiple images shown at the same time.

Software used include:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Premiere
  • Adobe Animate
  • Adobe After Effects

This means that substantial numbers of images can be combined – some similar and some contrasting to enhance a narrative.

The boundary between video and still photography is becoming increasingly blurred. As high definition video is becoming a standard feature of both consumer and professional DSLRs, and shooting video is becoming more intuitive to digital photographers, it is likely that clients will start to expect photographers to offer video as well as still images.

YouTube and Vimeo are two places where video content and slideshows saved in a video format (.mov or .mp4) can be self-published.


  • Urbex: Beauty in Decay
  • Chris Leslie: slideshows of ‘Disappearing Glasgow’ with photos, background music and interviews. I find these very evocative as a social documentary portrait. These are in a linked series on vimeo – start with  https://vimeo.com/29799259
  • Xavier Ribas  ‘Concrete Geographies’.  Photos of concrete blocks in Barcelona. See his website: http://www.xavierribas.com. This has inside views and links to vimeos of other books like Sanctuary – no text, one photo per spread. Sometimes a cross-over image. But the onscreen resolution is not good enough to really see the images.
  • Alessandro Rota A Neocolonialist’s diary.  Small paisley pattern cover. Coloured photos of sheets in Lusaka. Dark night streets. Lights. See his website . And vimeo of the book. https://vimeo.com/28099164
  • Foto8 Magazine has many powerful photo-only documentary stories with music.

More video-based:

  • Magnum in Motion and the subscription-based Mediastorm have powerful documentaries that mix video (often slow-motion and photo-like) and animated or still photos with narrative voice over.
  • 1 in 8 Million (New York Times) has a video gallery with video/photo mixes linked to videos with personal stories of varied New Yorkers.
  • Duckrabbit does training as well as producing documentaries blending moving as well as still images.

Less effective I thought were:

For links to my own work so far see: Create a slideshow. But this needs more work – when I have less work and risk of RSI.

Audio-visual pieces – some points to consider

(adapted from Course Guide)

Some of the design tips for photobooks, most notably rhythm and sequencing, are equally relevant here.

  • Rationale: What is the purpose of the slideshow? What is the main concept? Who is it for? Why do you want to present your work in a slideshow? Is a slideshow the most appropriate treatment of the work? If there’s a lot of content within the frame, will the viewer have enough time to ‘read’ the image at the given pixel dimensions?
  • Selection and Editing: Edit your work strictly.  Do all the images sit comfortably next to each other. Do any seem out of place? Can this be resolved, or should they be omitted? How long will your slideshow be? If it’s intended solely for on-line use, then it will probably need to be shorter than a piece that will be shown on a loop in a gallery.
  • Sequencing: Sequencing is paramount: consider how certain images relate to each other (graphically as well as in terms of the ‘connotations’ of an image, or the juxtaposition of images within the sequence).
  • Text: Will you use text? What will you say? Will the text complement and reinforce the images, or challenge the viewer through contrast or contradiction?What typeface and style will you use?
  • Sound: Consider the relationship between the sound and your images? Have you got relevant audio and/or textual material to accompany the images? If not, what could you look for?  Adobe Audition and Sony’s Acid Music are quite easy to use giving music loops to combine and layer to compose your own simple music tracks. Websites such as http://freemusicarchive.org  offer copyright-free audio tracks for non-commercial use.



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