Michael Bazeley is bored with SoundSlides. I tend to agree. I’ve never been a big fan of audio slideshows (not as most commonly produced, which is as a collection of static photos with music or voice over).
Most of the time, when I watch a slideshow, I can’t help but think — for all the time put into this, why not just shoot video?
I’m not knocking the value of still photography here. I’m a big fan of still photos, both as news and art, but it’s important to think about your audience and how best to spend your time in service of the audience. Video, all things being equal, tells a better story. For example, I don’t want to hear the disembodied voice of a subject talking over a static image. I want to see his lips moving, the particular tilt of his head or his eyes conveying his emotions. There is a depth of personality that just a voice and picture can’t capture.
That said, in the right hands, with the right subject, an audio slideshow can, indeed, work very well. An example is “The House That Brian Built” (disclosure for those that don’t know: the company I work for owns TownOnline.com, and I have bit of a supervisory role with it, but had nothing to do with this piece). For me, this slideshow works. It’s part the subject matter, part the writing, part the quality of the narration. The danger of planning a static slideshow is that if any of these elements are subpar, you wind up with boring multimedia. Whereas, video, for the same subject, effort and talent (again, all things being equal) is more forgiving.
However, if a still photographer wants to bring his or her photos to life, fine — do the slidshow and add the audio, but make the pictures move. Use the iMovie “Ken Burns Effect” or learn how to simulate this in Movie Maker or your other video tool. A great example is this piece onMatt McClain’s photos from Sri Lanka (note: WordPress plug in is automatically embedding this video, since I’m linking directly to it) Matt McClain’s photos from Sri Lanka produced by Bruce McLain for the Ventura County Star, which remains my all-time favorite “slideshows.”
Slideshows don’t need to be boring. Photographers need to learn to do them better, or start shooting video.
UPDATE: The House that Brian Built won a monthly contest by NPPA.