How to Make an Audio Slideshow


The journalism industry is going through particularly tough times, with revenue from ads and subscriptions declining considerably.

However, during the harshest economic climates, innovative ideas flourish more than ever, and news outlets are tapping into the power of convergence: mixing forms of communication to create multimedia packages that deliver stories that are accessible by the “Web 2.0″ generation.

Fortunately for photographers, visuals are an integral part of the multimedia wave.

Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to check out our August post on some of the best newspaper photo blogs out there, as well as some of the multimedia features on most newspaper sites, like the New York Times, SF Gate, the San Jose Mercury News, and some college newspapers, including my alma mater, the Daily Bruin.

Many sites feature audio slideshows, which are one of the simplest and easiest forms of multimedia storytelling–if you’ve got the right tools and elements:

1. Photos that tell a story.


Whether you’re photographing a family holiday, sporting event, or documentary news, try to shoot a variety of images from different angles of different moments. Take close-up and wide photographs.

After the shoot, pick photos that have a narrative or chronological order of events and happenings.

2. A recorder and quality audio that matches the story.


Use a digital recorder that can transfer sound files onto your computer. I usually use a MicroMemo attached to my iPod video (ancient, I know). I’ve also had some hands-on time with the Olympus DS series, which capture very crisp audio. The higher end model, the DS-61 has different modes to capture directional sound, which is very useful when recording specific types of sounds such as ambient noise versus a single person speaking.

When recording audio, find a quiet place to capture interviews and voices, to reduce distracting background noise.

3. Audio editing software.

Audacity is a free audio editing program that can be used to cut, edit, splice, and record audio–all very straightforward.

You can also use programs like Adobe Audition for more in-depth editing.

4. Slideshow software.

Several publications use Final Cut Pro to put together an audio slideshow. iMovie also can do the job.

For fast production and ready web publishing, try Soundslides. A free demo is available on the site.

Soundslides is a very intuitive program for uploading photos and audio, and adjusting timing points and transitions. It also has a feature for exporting to web if you have an FTP set up.

5. Share.

Share your project on your website. If you don’t have one, check out to make a free customizable site.

6. Be inspired.

Check out some of the links above and explore a bit for ideas.

One of my favorite examples of the simple, yet powerful integration of photography with another medium is the package by New York Times, One in 8 Million.


The project tells one story each week, focusing on one central character, someone you might brush shoulders with on the subway of New York. The subject describes, in his or her own words, anything from their own personal struggles, triumphs, daily life or something that defines them. The images work to visually capture the story with a timeless quality, in black and white.

Together, the two mediums form a very intimate local human-interest story that fosters a sense of community–which is quite an impressive undertaking considering the expansiveness of New York City.

If you’ve got a favorite multimedia site or an audio slideshow to show off, share a link!

Image Credits: Shure SM58 by laffy4k, Shot Glass by S. Su, rage by murplejane, IMG_0864 by emkladil

  • Mary Elizabeth

    Interesting and very practical!
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Abounding Media

    I love this format. When executed properly it can be one of the most powerful presentations available online. Thanks for the tips.

  • JessicaLum

    I agree. Thanks for the comment!

  • Bergur

    This is amazing. I am completely mesmerized by the NYT slideshow.

    Beautiful work of art!

  • dawilson

    There are some superb slideshows on newspaper photoblogs these days. If you want to create your own and you are a Windows user, I would definitely suggest looking at the ProShow products from Photodex. I've been using them for several years and love both the features and price. ProShow Gold is amazing value for money. If you want even more advanced features and output options, ProShow Producer is also worth a look.

    Needless to say, I have absolutely no affiliation with Photodex other than being a happy customer.

  • Machiko Yasuda

    Jess! We (or at least I) miss your audio slideshows ):

    Either way, here is the best I've seen so far:

    I'd venture to say this individual slideshow is better than the ones I've seen on One in 8 Million.

    While watching this batch of LAT slideshows, you can really tell that it's not just the photos and the audio placement that tell the story. Audio editing to tell a story is key – starting off with “Hi, my name is X and I do Z…” just doesn't compel you to go any further. Starting with the most dramatic or memorable quote/action, I find, is a better way to tell the story.

    And now, with Soundslides Pro, you can add lower-thirds or panning into the photos really easily. What's even more awesome, though, is that you can now convert your Soundslides flash files into video files (podcast compatible and everything) – making it more accessible and easily embeddable.. it's basically the best thing ever.

  • andylock

    Web casting, or broadcasting over the internet, is a media file (audio-video mostly) distributed over the internet using streaming media technology. Streaming implies media played as a continuous stream and received real time by the browser (end user). Streaming technology enables a single content source to be distributed to many simultaneous viewers. Streaming video bandwidth is typically calculated in gigabytes of data transferred. It is important to estimate how many viewers you can reach, for example in a live webcast, given your bandwidth constraints or conversely, if you are expecting a certain audience size, what bandwidth resources you need to deploy.

  • JessicaLum

    Hi Machiko! Awesome, thank you so much for sharing that! :D So amazing!

    You make a really good point–good storytelling needs a good story arc and a good lead-in.

    And I do love Soundslides Pro. :D

  • JessicaLum

    Hi Machiko! Awesome, thank you so much for sharing that! :D So amazing!

    You make a really good point–good storytelling needs a good story arc and a good lead-in.

    And I do love Soundslides Pro. :D

  • mlaurvig

    A Life Alone is the best audio/video/photography slideshow I have ever seen.

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