Create a photo slideshow
How to make a photo story that you can e-mail, post online, or burn to DVD
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It's so easy to make a slideshow from your digital photos, you'll want to create one for every occasion. We'll give you some inspiring ideas, tips for plotting your story, and the resources to create a slideshow that’s sure to be a real crowd-pleaser.
Photo slideshow inspiration
Photo slideshows are great for baby announcements, birthdays—and of course, proud grandparents!
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With so many uses for slideshows, you’ll wonder why you haven’t made them before! They’re perfect to show at parties, to give away as favors, and to share online. Here are a few ideas for inspiration:
- Birthdays: Arrange photos in chronological order to show how a person has changed over the years. Match photos with music from the same era.
- Weddings/anniversaries: Include photos of the couple "then and now," along with “their song”.
- Graduations: Highlight the graduate's major achievements through photos.
- Sports: Show a sports team's achievements at an end-of-the-season party.
- Fundraisers: Assemble a collection of photos that describe your organization and how it benefits the community.
- Holiday: Get into the holiday spirit with a heart-warming trip through favorite seasonal memories.
- School projects: Create a slideshow for a school report or recap an educational field trip.
- Just for fun: Put together a collection of goofy photos and silly songs to share with friends when you need a good laugh.
Choose slideshow software
Windows Live Essentials: Photo Gallery offers a variety of themes to personalize your slideshow.
There are dozens of free programs available to make easy work of slideshows. Here are a handful to consider:
Each of these will use different steps to create your slideshow, but they are generally very intuitive. Check your specific software’s Help Topics before you begin.
Once you’ve decided on the software, peruse its “bells and whistles” so you can start planning: Can you add music? Can you time the transitions between photos? You may be surprised by everything the software offers.
Tell the story
Slideshows are perfect for retirement parties. Be sure to tell the story from the beginning!
Put your photos in chronological order to help viewers know where the story is going.
A slideshow isn’t just random images with a loose theme—it’s a story. A specific song or two may even play a lead role in setting the tone and telling the tale. With planning, you can keep your audience riveted until the end.
Set the tone
Slideshows can be sentimental, funny, romantic, emotional, persuasive—the list goes on. You can even have more than one tone or emotion. Write down a few tone ideas and see where the story takes you.
Tell the story
Imagine a slideshow as having a beginning, middle, climax, and an end. These can gently transition the viewer between emotions.
- Beginning: Introduce your characters, the theme, and set the tone. This can be done with an intro slide and a title, through the opening slides, and through the music.
- Middle: Move the story forward. This can be done easily by showing photos in chronological order.
- Climax: Create drama by showing growth, change, or even conflict. You can also build up to your best photos, or use photos that evoke the most emotion. (Music can also do some of the heavy lifting here!)
- End: Resolve the conflict, tone down the emotion of the images, or bring the images into present day.
Choose the photos
Resist showing photos of objects by themselves. People are more interesting—especially if it’s Grandpa.
Trade washed out or blurry photos for similar photos that still tell the same story.
Now it’s time to sort through your pictures. As you find images you want to use, copy them into a new file, so you don’t lose the originals.
Also, you’re not limited to just digital shots! See how easy it is to scan photos or even 35mm photo slides and negatives.
Here are some tips for making your slideshow a visual treat:
- Show people: Bonus points for including more than one person from the slideshow’s audience.
- Choose great photos: This doesn’t necessarily mean “perfect” photos, but ones that clearly show—and flatter!—their subject, plus fit into the slideshow’s storyline and mood.
- Always compromise: While you should avoid shots that are too dark, washed out, blurry, or grainy—never skip a less-than-perfect shot if it’s important to the story.
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- Edit, edit, edit: When showing a slideshow on a large screen, small edits can make a huge difference. Easily improve almost-perfect photos by adjusting the brightness, removing red-eye, and creating a focal point.
Find tips and how-tos for editing and restoring photos.
Prep your images
Some scanners, like the HP Scanjet G4050 Photo Scanner, speed up the editing process by removing dust and scratches from photos with a touch of a button—and without software.
Once you have your photos and your plan, it’s time to get started!
- Put the photos in order: For physical images, arrange them in a loose order to keep your slideshow “vision” intact (you'll have the opportunity to rearrange photos once you upload them). For digital images, add numbers to their file names.
- Scan: Keep in mind that your photos may be viewed on a large screen, so scan at a resolution of 300 dpi or more and as a TIFF file. Get more quick tips for scanning photos.
- Edit: Whether using scanned or digital photos, edit your images for the flaws mentioned above.
TIP: Let your scanner software remove dust and scratches while you scan photos.
Create your photo slideshow
Slideshow programs offer tons of features to make your presentation look slick. Apple iPhoto lets you edit your photos as you go.
After your images are ready, upload them into the photo slideshow software of your choosing and follow its corresponding steps. Next, add music, titles, themes, captions, and special effects while keeping in mind the following:
- Speed: Synch the transition from one photo to another to the tempo of the song—for example, don’t pair fast music with really long shots, or vice versa.
- Length of slideshow: Don’t overdo it and lose your audience’s attention! Keep it under ten minutes, which translates to roughly 2 songs, and up to 100 photos.
- Subtlety: It’s tempting to use every transition or motion effect available in your software, but they can be distracting. Keep things simple and let your images carry the show.
Share your photo slideshow
Burn your slideshow to a DVD and then create cover art using a sheet of thumbnail-size photos.
Most slideshow software offer a variety of ways to share your creation, including e-mail, posting to the Web, or even using as your computer’s screensaver.
You can also burn your slideshow to DVD, for maximum portability and creativity!
- Make cover art using a sheet of thumbnail-size photos from the slideshow—or create a cover of your own.
- Print and affix a fun DVD label.
- Move it from your computer and onto a large screen TV.
- Give and save copies as mementos.
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