The Ultimate Photo + Video Slideshow Creation Guide

You’ve felt it. The seductive impact a mix of music, sometimes sweet voices, movement, and great images plays on our souls when we see the latest slideshows or fusion videos shared by other photographers. Each time I see a gallery slideshow, especially ones mixed with video clips (also known as fusion videos), it reminds me of my family’s old, home movies. The happenings, the things we say, clothes we wear… all otherwise forgotten are revived in these slideshows and video reels.  Slideshows are especially effective for documentary photography sessions; to add more emotion to your gallery reveal or even as a product offered for your photography clients.

In fact, you can download this quick cheat sheet to give you ideas in how you can use slideshows to amp up your marketing. If you’re anything like me, learning how to get your photos onto your computer, polished in Photoshop, and into your gallery host was enough of a learning curve. When it comes to slideshows, you’re asking things like:

  • How do I even create a slideshow?
  • Do I need to buy software or a service?
  • How do I shoot video clips and add those to a slideshow?
  • What music can I use in a slideshow?
  • How many images should be in a slideshow?
  • How long should it be?
  • Wait, do I need a video host too?

Yep, lots of questions are stirring up in the community and we’re going to answer them all right now! You’ll want to pin or bookmark this post as we’ll be updating it as new information and resources become available.

Let’s begin here: What Software Do I Need to Create a Slideshow?

Before I give you some resources, let me begin by mentioning this: sometimes, you’ve just gotta get in there and play in your software. It can be intimidating not knowing how to use your software, believe me, I get it! I’m somewhat tech savvy, yet I still do not like trying new software or taking the time to watch tutorials. The task may feel daunting, but once you begin to familiarize yourself with the software, things will start to get faster and the final product is rewarding. Take it from Nike, just do it!

Basic software:

If you are a DIY’er and need something budget friendly, you may have software on your computer that will work already, such as iMovie (Mac users) or Windows Movie Maker (Windows users). We have blog posts from photographers that walk you through a step-by-step tutorial on how to create slideshows in these two easy-to-use software systems. Check them out:

Visit this tutorial: How to Create a Photo and Video Clip Slideshow in iMovie – by P&W Photography

Visit this tutorial: How to Make a Photo Slideshow in Windows Movie Maker by Julia Francesca Photography

Advanced software: 

You may have software that caters a little more to your slideshow creation needs, such as Lightroom or Adobe Premiere Pro.   You may already have Lightroom since you use it to edit your photos.

Adobe Premiere Pro is another paid piece of software, but much more advanced than anything mentioned above. This really is overkill for simple slideshows, but if video is something you plan to learn, this software is ideal. What I love about Adobe now is that it is affordable to nearly anyone as they have a monthly subscription available through Creative Cloud for any of their products! Of course, if you want to skip the subscription and pay in full, that option is available also.

So if you’ve tried your freebie softwares on your computer and are ready to scale up your creations, both Lightroom and Adobe Premiere Pro are popular among photographers. Check them out:

How to Combine Video + Stills in Lightroom with 10 Easy Steps by Courtney Holmes

How to Create a Slideshow with Still Images + Video in Adobe Premiere Pro by Hannah Cross of Point Four Photography

Once created, what do I do with the final video to start sharing?

You will need to use a hosting service. I recommend either YouTube or Vimeo. They are free unless you need to upgrade your account for more space. From there, you will be able to have a web link to share or you can grab the embed code and showcase the videos directly on your website. All you need to do is copy the embed code and paste the code where you want it in the html area of your blog post or page.

 

What available services are out there that make the process even more user-friendly if I’m reluctant to learn DIY software (for photographers after my own heart)?

1. ProShow Web by Photodex

Check them out here.

ProShow Web is an easy-to-use tool for making photo + video slideshows from your Mac or PC. Pick a theme, add your photos, video clips, text, and music, and in minutes, ProShow Web delivers a beautiful finished video, ready for you to share. Embed on your blog or website, share on social media, burn to DVD, Blu-ray and more. A Premium subscription gives you full 1080p HD quality output, watermarking options, call-to-action links, royalty-free music and more.

This is where it’s at to start using your creations to help build your BRAND and utilize your shows for more than client care, but for marketing your photography business also.

For Fearless & Framed Readers Only:  Get 15% off with code FAF15 through December 1st, 2015. Click here to check out the product and redeem. They have both monthly and annual plans available. You can see some of their user shows in their Spotlighted Shows blog category here or check out this video to see ProShow in action:

Photographer Sal Cincotta uses ProShow Web to deliver professional video slideshows to all his clients.

 

2. Soundslides

Check them out here.

Soundslides is a powerful story telling tool that allows you to easily sync your images to audio.

Beginner friendly and affordable, but full of sophisticated features, Soundslides allows you to easily share your slideshows on the Web or convert them to video. Their easy and intuitive interface allows storytellers to concentrate on the story, rather than the application.

Created for journalists and other storytellers on deadline, Soundslides is designed to make quick work of slide show production (I don’t know about you, but I like anything that makes my workflow quick!). You can also easily add your story to your webpage or blog as well as YouTube and Vimeo. Soundslides has been in use at major media outlets and public relations offices around the world since 2005, so they’re definitely not new at this.

Here are som key Features: 3 transition options: crossfade, fade out/fade in, straight cut Image movement (pan and zoom), Captions & credits Lower thirds Drag and drop image ordering and timeline adjustments Silent slideshow option Customizable player (fonts, colors, controls).

Want to learn more? Click here to see a sample slideshow created using Soundslides.

Here is a tour of how to use Soundslides:

 

Other big news about Soundslides: their team is hard at work on finalizing an updated Soundslides Hosting service and Soundslides player as well as an all new iOS app and Soundslides v2.0. And what’s also awesome? Soundslides has given F&F readers a 20% off discount (for up to 5 licenses)! The team has given us a special secret link for you. You must click this link to enjoy the savings.

 

3. Animoto

Check them out here. 

Animoto Professional makes it easy to combine photos with video clips, text, and licensed music to create seamless HD video slideshows. A large segment of their users are professional photographers, so they offer a variety of features to cater specifically to their needs. In addition, Animoto’s extensive music library holds over 2000 commercially licensed tracks, including 1000 Triple Scoop tracks! How’s that for value?

Animate also has over 70 unique styles, or templates, to choose from which enable you to create a slideshow in minutes. Over 20 of these styles are designed by photographers for photographers and, for those who want a little more control, there are custom styles where you can choose your own text, color, and transitions. There is also a Lightroom plugin, that lets you export photos directly from Lightroom into Animoto.

Click here to watch an example of Animoto in action.  

Where Can I Get Music for a Slideshow?

I’m sure you already know you can’t just pick your favorite song ever and add it to your slideshow. You need a license.  Typically, there are two types of licenses you can purchase: one for more personal-use slideshow sharing and one for advertising purposes, which costs a little more.  Tip: I learned this one the hard way. Choose a song, then create the slideshow. I find that I stay interested in videos that are 3-4 minutes max – anything longer may leave me clicking off the video before it ends unless it’s a really amazing story being told.

Here are some great places to choose your music from:

Music Bed

Song Freedom

Triple Scoop Music

 

How Do I Create Video Clips for My Slideshows?

Video + stills all in one photo session is growing like wildfire in the photography industry right now. I’m seeing a big increase in photographers sharing their latest films of clients or personal work in our Facebook Group. If you’re anything like me, you know how to record a video on your camera, but your videos are shaky, you can hear the clicks when you change your settings, your focus is out of control… yep, I’m not so video saavy…. yet. But, I’m going to direct you to a resource that can teach you how to make not only video clips for your slideshows, but full videos that you can create for yourself, for clients, or for your brand.   I’ve not taken this course (though it’s on my personal wishlist), but some of my photographer friends are RAVING over this course. Warning: You will get sucked into her website when you visit it – the videos are THAT GOOD.   We connected with Emily Mitchell of Everyday Films to tell us more about her course and get this: she’s given us 10 awesome tips for creating video! These are her thoughts about video in general, how it can add to your brand as a photographer, and her 10 tips for you to start using TODAY.

“I love shooting video because it demands a release of perfection.  And the entire process of shooting and editing is quicker, too.  You simply cannot edit video with the same degree of control that you can with stills.  Learning video has made me a stronger still shooter, because composition and emotion are the primary drivers to how I shoot now.  I am a professional photographer in addition to my work in film, and I love stills.  But for me, it’s hard to keep up with the backlog of photos to edit and distribute.  Even though I love editing stills, I sometimes find the process of culling to be tedious, especially in the documentary-style work that I shoot.  And the pressure is immense… you have less than one fraction of one second to make your entire impression.  In the world of video, you have multiple seconds, multiple shots, and your finished video is so much more than about how it looks.  It’s about voices and movements and pace and personality.  It’s about the emotion of music, it’s about how people relate…it’s about who we are, and in a way a still just can’t capture.
I am passionate about giving people the power to capture memories with video, which opens doors artistically and financially with your existing equipment and aesthetic.” << Such a great and valid point, isn’t it?!

 

Emily’s 10 Tips for Getting Started with Video

1. You’re going to need to be completely comfortable in manual mode to shoot video without really frustrating yourself.

2. Use your manual to figure out how to make the switch to video.

3. All focus is manual.

4. To make your life easier, shoot at f/4 or deeper while you’re learning. I didn’t shoot shallower than f/4 for over a year while I learned.

5. This is a great time to bring out your old kit zoom lens! Use wider angle lenses. Trying to focus with an 85 mm or longer while you’re learning is like trying to write your name on a cocktail napkin with a 10-foot long pencil.

6. Hold your camera in your right hand. Put your left hand out like you’re serving a tray.  Support your lens on that “tray,” and adjust your focus ring with just your left fingers.  Resist the tendency to focus overhand.

7. Let foreground be your friend for cleaning up messy frames. Don’t be afraid of filling more than half your frame with it.

8. Shoot in 2-10 second clips, for the most part.

9. You can switch back and forth between video and stills during client sessions and shoot and deliver both.

10. Learning to focus is the hardest part of shooting video, and it takes lots of practice.  Be gentle with yourself, and practice every day.

 

To learn more about DSLR Video, including color grading, color correction, gear, music acquisition, quality audio capture, and my emotional editing intensive, you must get in on this class: DSLR Video Storytelling. 
Emily also includes a 2-hour video of herself shooting a real-life client session, explaining everything she does as she shoots, complete with SOOC video and still shots, as they are shot.  She offers individualized feedback and video Skype sessions in small groups as well during the workshop.

 

Click here for workshop information, including dates, pricing, example student work and the signup to be notified for registration.

 

Tips for Making a Killer Slideshow of Your Photo Gallery + Video Clips

I’m just going to put it out there: it took me HOURS to create my first slideshow. I had primarily images and one short video clip. My end result was beautiful, certainly, but there was so much more I could have done. It takes practice to make your slideshow workflow fast and powerful.

1. Think about slideshows you’ve seen. You click the play button, thinking you’re in for a real treat, and within seconds you click away due to boredom. We all do it! Our time is valuable after all. The tip: Start paying attention to the videos that hook you right of the bat and keep you engaged throughout. What are they doing to keep you frothing at the mouth for more? Who is their audience? What is their end goal?

2. Just like when you’re choosing photos for your galleries and blog posts, LESS IS MORE, friend! If you have four similar photos, all on 4 second intervals… it gets boring quick. The example from Courtney Holmes below is a wonderful example of how you can speed up your slides (images) to keep your viewer engaged while being able to showcase more of a particular scene. So this answers the question: how many photos do I need to have? I can’t tell you an exact number, the slideshow just needs to make sense. It can’t be too much of the same thing and you also want a story to unfold. You determine your balance.

3. For all of you dancers and cheerleaders out there: we did our competition dances counting our moves to the beat of the music. Do the same with your slides + music to make the sound and timing of the slides being revealed feel well paired.

4. Choose music that elevates the story. Does your story build up to a climax (like a birth or a wedding)? Is your story about love and joy throughout (like a family playtime session)?

5. Don’t be afraid to mix it up with a thought-evoking slide of text. Ask your viewers a question or make a bold statement in your slides. Don’t forget your opening and closing credits to leave your signature and promote your business.

6. Know your audience and overall goal of your video! This tip should really be #1. If you are creating videos for more than your client gallery reveals, know what your goal is. Is it to educate your audience about the sessions you offer? Is it to show a certain type of potential client (soon-to-be mom perhaps) WHY this type of session is beneficial to her? Then infuse your slideshow with a combination of strong images, video clips, and text to make her obsess over needing you to do her birth story or Fresh 48. If you are doing this for brand and you shoot a variety of subjects, consider creating videos for each niche as to keep your audience engaged in the subject they are interested in.

7. Consider hiring this out!

For more creation tips, you need to read this awesome article on the ProShow Blog: 7 Tips for Making Any Slideshow Better (in less time)

 

Here are examples of photographers already rocking slideshows:

We reached our to our community of photographers inside the Goodbye, Posing Guide Facebook Group for submissions on their video + slideshow creations. Let them inspire you and we’ve all revealed our secret to which software we used to create our slideshows.

This was the very first slideshow I created (using iMovie). If I can do this, so you can you!! My client said this brought her to tears. A birth story (Marie Masse):

 

Lauren Kamenitz of LKSquared‘s Newborn Session, using Adobe Premiere Pro:

 

Courtney Holmes shared her insanely awesome video, done in Adobe Premiere Pro:

 

Get your tissue ready, this one from Karen Jacot showcases the love of a family going through a difficult time (she used LightRoom and got music from Song Freedom). Isn’t it amazing how video + photography allows us to see the good (love and beauty) when our emotions pull us into different directions?

 

This is a really cool twist on a personal project from photographer, Kathleen White.
She wrote a letter to a daughter using video (iMovie)… how cool is that?!

 

Bobbi Kirchhoefer shares this video of a couple and their dogs (she used Final Cut Pro X to make it):

 

One more from Michelle Roycroft of This Moment Photo:

So there you have it. You have software suggestions + even how-to-use instructions at your disposal. You know where to grab your music licenses, you know where to go learn how to create video, and you have some killer creation tips.

You may have one more lingering question: What ways can I use slideshows in my business for marketing and for client experience? Well, I’ve got ya covered:

Homework:

Once you create your first slideshow or if you are a veteran wanting to show off your skills, come back and embed your video in the comments! Also, please ask questions you have about the process so we can continue to update this post with information that will answer. Extra credit: know someone that creates slideshows and brand or marketing videos for photographers? Please let us know via hello@fearlessandframed.com as we want to have a go-to resource to send photographers that would love to hire this task out to.

Author: MarieMasse

I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.


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  • Great post! I am going to bookmark it so I can come back and try out some of this once I’ve finished studying in a couple of weeks.

    I’ve been learning how to combine video and stills in Photoshop as part of my Photography Diploma course I’ve been studying for this year. The very first one I created was actually for a timelapse assessment. I took over 3000 frames at an interval of 1 second, cleaned the images up in Lightroom and then imported them to Photoshop to create the video and add music and titles. They are having a workshop week at Tafe next week where I’m going to learn the basics of Adobe After Affects and I can’t wait! Here is the link to my timelapse video on YouTube, it starts with my sister almost 40 weeks pregnant and ends with my nephew at 6 days old…

  • I love mixing video with photos and music and I create a tons of slideshows for our clients and, of course, my family as well. Every year, my wife, a photographer with Orpheus and Aphrodite Music and Photography in Atlanta, gathers together her favorite pics of my family’s special moments and I get together my favorite videos and I put them together in a movie. It’s a different theme every year with great music telling our story. After the movie is completed in January, we have a big screening with all of our extended family with lots of popcorn and candy. It’s so much fun! The movies have grown in size every year. Last year’s was over 2 hours long and we had to have an intermission!

    I really enjoyed your post! Had to share on pinterest! Thanks so much!

    • Way to go!! Thanks for popping by and sharing with us. Did you like putting it all together? What software did you use to create your video?