9 Tips to Great Photo Slideshows

Photo by SqueakyMarmot

Photo by SqueakyMarmot

Slideshows are nothing new. I clearly remember (with vivid nostalgia) the “clickey click” of the old carousel slide projector from my grade-school years.

And even with all the tech advancements we’ve made in the last 20 years, traditional slideshows remain an important medium in many personal (weddings, funerals, anniversaries, birthdays) and business events (corporate year-end-reviews, product marketing) especially where the goal is to invoke emotion in an audience.

As photographers we have one of the most important elements to delivering a fantastic slideshow already nailed down by having great images at our disposal – but there is more to a great slideshow than just flipping through your great shots.

Use the following 8 tips to help you bring emotional power to your next slideshow.  And have a look at some examples below to give you some inspiration.

1. Start with the end in mind

Do you know how you’ll be presenting your slideshow to your audience? You don’t want to get to the wedding reception only to find out there is no wi-fi and you can’t stream your slideshow video!

Thinking ahead will help you make the right decision on which slideshow software tool to use and what you’ll need to show off your slideshow without any problems.

2. Keep it short and sweet

Everyone agrees with this one, yet so many people create slideshows that are just way too long. I’d suggest trying to fit your slideshow to the length of a song – 3-4 minutes. Yes, that means you’re going to have to make some very tough decisions about which crazy good images will not be included in the slideshow.

The worst culprits of way-too-long slideshows are of photos of peoples travels. I think you know what I’m talking about…

3. Motion creates emotion

Many software tools today will allow you to use animation, video clips and transitions. When crafting your slideshow, take time away from the photos and pay attention to theses “extras”.  Just don’t overdue it. LIke I tell my kids “Too much of a good thing is not a good thing.”

4. Match the music with the images

Adding music to a slideshow is nothing new or revolutionary. But don’t just slap on any song. Consider the mood of your slideshow and find an appropriate song. I prefer simple music (classical, for example) that I know won’t dominate the slideshow, but will nicely compliment it.  Also make sure you pay attention to copyright. Facebook and YouTube will remove any video that their robots think is in copyright infringement. Just to warn ya…

5. Know thy audience (personal, corporate, etc)

More often than not – you are not your audience. And the assumptions you make during the preparation of your slideshow might be way off mark if you don’t think of “them” as well (or instead of) “you”.

6. Let someone else do the work for you

Sure you’ve got the photos – but you may not have the skills, interest or time to make a great slideshow.  Consider getting a tech-savvy friend to help you or choose a slideshow maker that is known to be user friendly.  I have used at least a half a dozen slideshow making software and I always seem to come back to Animoto because the slideshows are just so damn easy to make, and always look great.

7. Spread the love

Get your gorgeous slideshow online and share it with your network of fans (friends, family, and clients) on facebook and twitter. Slideshows can be great to watch at parties, events, and work meetings.

8. Give a slideshow as a gift

On the personal side, I have created slideshows for funerals, mothers day, and work events. It doesn’t have to cost much (if anything), can be completed in less than an hour, and is almost sure to lead to tears of joy, laughter, and all sorts of warm fuzzies.

9. Use slideshows to make money (as a product, or as a way to get referrals)

Many portrait photographers out there up-sell slideshows in their packages to clients. Since I find I can create a slideshow in just a few minutes using Animoto, I prefer to give slideshows as a free gift to my clients – as a surprise. It usually pays for itself when clients share the video on facebook with their friends – which lands me new leads and new business.  Easy marketing.

A list of slideshow tools:

  • iPhoto (Mac)
  • PowerPoint (PC/Mac)
  • Lightroom (PC/Mac)
  • Animoto (online) – My personal favourite – and by using this link you can save 10%! They also have a free trial. :)
  • iMovie (Mac)
  • Fotomagico (Mac)

And just for inspiration, here’s a slideshow I recently created for a client of mine:

The slideshow above took me 8 minutes to create using Animoto. No joke.

If you have a slideshow you’d like to share. Please leave a comment and post the link to your slideshow.


  1. hey what is the song you used?

  2. Thank you for an excellent article. I was looking for ideas and tips for slide shows; yours was the first site I found and I’m glad I did. Great writing style. I really like your About page too.

  3. Desirae says:

    What template did you use for this one? I haven’t bought a plan yet so I was wondering if this was on one of the more expensive plans. Also, what song is this? I love the look of this and the song goes well with it. Very good job! Thank you!


  1. […] you happen to make a slideshow soon, here are some tips that may help you […]

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