Slide Presentations

Once you've begun to experiment with color photography, you may want to produce a slide presentation. This can be done as a solo project or as a group venture.

To be effective, a slide show virtually has to have an identifiable sequence. That sequence may be chronological (the "how I spent my summer vacation" sort of thing); it may be thematic (shifting moods, lighting, a linked series of subjects, etc.); or it may follow some narrative structure.

You might want to make your own equivalent of a rock video by illustrating a favorite song. This is especially effective if the song is about some issue you care about (love songs can be tricky). You might illustrate a piece of jazz, folk, classical or contemporary instrumental music. You might combine music and narration, perhaps using poetry to suggest the themes of your photographs. You might even team up with a musician friend and compose something entirely original.

With any of these approaches, don't feel tied to a literal expression. Instead, try to combine sounds and images that evoke the same mood. You might select a piece of music that suggests a certain environment to you (a forest, mountains, a river, city streets, etc.) and shoot a series of photographs of that environment.

However you structure your slide show, a few basic rules will apply. First, remember that your primary purpose must be to entertain ... or at least to hold your viewers' interest. Even if you're sure everyone would love to watch your show till doomsday, don't let it run for more than 20 minutes. Five minutes is a perfectly good length. Three minutes is not necessarily too short.

Avoid abrupt shifts of light value from one image to the next. Don't go from a very dark slide to a bright white one if you can possibly avoid it. Certainly don't do this often. The strain on viewers' eyes will seriously reduce your show's impact.

Look for color harmonies in your slides and try to arrange them so the harmonies are evident. For example, you might have one slide of someone holding a red flower. The next slide could have someone in a red shirt standing in the same general area of the frame as the flower. If that person is also wearing black pants, your next slide might show a blacktop road in the same general area as the pants. Establishing these kinds of patterns can help provide a sense of flow.

Finally, be a critical editor. There are few things as dull as a slide show full of photographs that "got away" —overexposed, underexposed, poorly focused, poorly composed shots. If a slide isn't technically good, it is not worth showing. Test your show on some trusted friends before you inflict it on an unsuspecting public. Do whatever you must to make it interesting, even if that means cutting out all your prized slides of your parakeet.

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