1. Don’t overuse them
Readers will easily start ignoring your audio slideshows if they’re continuously overused and the content is mediocre. Figure out which stories are best suited for a slideshow (i.e. a city council meeting may not be the most appropriate time). Sometimes a slideshow or video is better. Your audio slideshows will have more meaning if they’re used sparingly and effectively.
2. Send out the real photographers
It’s great to have the emphasis on “the backpack journalist” who can do it all, especially for breaking news. But, if you can get your hands on a staff photographer, do it; an inexperienced reporter using a point and shoot won’t always do the trick. If you send out a real photographer,Â the reporter can focus on getting good audio without having to figure out how to use the camera.
A word of caution: make sure the photographer and reporter actually work together. Â Send them out as a team and let them discuss the focus of the slideshow, goals for photos and audio and even let them edit it together. It’ll make the entire production more cohesive.
3. Use text slides
If the audio doesn’t tell the full story, use text slides as transitions between sources, topics, locations, etc. A simple, powerful look is a black slide with plain white text over it, which you can make in Photoshop. Don’t get too fancy; keep words to a minimum so readers aren’t forced out of the slow pace in which they’ve been watching your slideshow. If you have a lot of text, break it up over multiple slides.
4. Make good use of ambient/environmental noise
It’s easy to forget about ambient noise and it’s hard (if not impossible) to go back to the scene to capture good ambient noise. What am I talking about? Cheering crowds, a clanking hammer, dripping water. Anything that adds to the feel of the environment and captures what your photos and interviews cannot.
5. Humanize your subject
The best audio slideshows introduce your viewers to a new person, just like a good feature story. Even if you’re covering an event, make the speaker a human among the crowd or show how the audience is made up of many individuals instead of being one big group.
It seems abstract, but you can do it with photos that capture emotions and audio that goes beyond the standard, “Today’s event was really successful, we had a huge turnout,” quote. If you go into the project with a goal of humanizing your subjects, it’ll be easier to look for those stories that really stand out.
If you’ve never made an audio slideshow, it’s a piece of cake. The quickest way to do it is using Soundslides, which you can download and purchase online. Multimedia Shooter has a video tutorial that covers all the basic functions of Soundslides Plus. For good examples, see the National Press Photographers Association’s winning audio slideshows.Â
Have good tips? Share them in the comments.