Monday, May 17, 2010

Evolution of the Photo Album

How making a slideshow can enhance the way we preserve memories
Photo Slideshow SoftwareWhen I was younger, I loved pulling out the photo albums my mom kept in the living room. There, in the cellophane-wrapped pages, printed on Polaroids and semi-gloss photo paper, was the evidence of our lives. I recognized the old house the pictures were taken in, and could see the resemblance of my parents’ faces in their younger form. I remembered old toys and costumes, and sometimes saw old friends. Everyone was always smiling, and it was the perfect reminder that I had grown from love. These photos made appearances at my graduations and my wedding, sometimes eliciting a round of laughter, and always reminding us of the paths leading us to that day.

As we learn to integrate our lives with a digital existence, the sensation of flipping through the sticky pages of a photo album will become a rare occurrence. But that doesn’t mean that the visceral experience will disappear; there will still be the unpredictable nature of seeing photos anew, in which memories arise and emotions are conjured up. I have realized that the pictures I take almost never make it to the pages of a photo album. They have different lives than the photos my parents took. They remain in chronological order on my camera, or stored on discs, hard drives, and SD cards. I almost never print them out.

But that doesn’t mean my photos are stowed away, rarely to be seen. If anything, there are more opportunities to share photos than ever. Between portable devices, mobile phones, online photo sites, and social media, photos have a new life. The slideshow, once a good excuse to take a nap while your uncle narrated slides of his latest motor home trip, is now a creative and highly engaging experience and is the ultimate way to share memories. Creating a slideshow today means taking advantage of technology to engage with our photos, and to reflect on our lives in ways we never have before.

With graduations coming up, and as we head into the height of the wedding season, now may be the perfect time to reminisce or put together a meaningful slideshow full of family memories. Here are a few tips for putting together your slideshow, and for amazing your friends and family:
  1. Get a slideshow program. Putting together a slideshow should be intuitive, especially when dealing with hundreds of photos. Photostage slideshow creator is easy to use, it handles multiple media formats, and you'll end up with a quality slideshow worthy of any special event.
  2. Gather your media. That’s right, I said media. Don’t limit yourself to digital pictures--scan in those old prints you have too. Then, look for video clips, but keep them short. Don’t worry if your videos aren’t in digital format, those can be converted if you use Golden Videos VHS to PC converter to convert home movies to digital format, and edit them down with VideoPad video editor. Don’t forget the music either. Choose music with special meaning; either songs that make you smile, or bring a tear to your eye.
  3. Organize your media. Once your photos, video clips, and audio are on the slideshow timeline, move them around so you can see how they relate to each other. Group similar pictures or find themes that match the music, and use blank slides filled with text to help break up the different sections. Or, try telling a compelling story either by recording narration or inserting captions along the way.
  4. Embellish. Adding transitions between the slides makes watching the slideshow easy on the eyes. Combine transitions with image effects to add visual interest to your slides. Don’t be afraid to experiment! Anything you apply can be undone, and your original media is safe and sound in its original form.
  5. Save for the correct medium. How will you be displaying your slideshow? Will you be posting it online, or projecting it to a room full of graduates? Be careful that you don’t save for YouTube if you plan on watching the slideshow on a wide screen TV. The resulting images won’t have the quality you desire.
  6. Share! No matter the complexity of the slideshow, the effort you put in will show through. Enjoy!


  1. The previous version of Photostage (ver 1) was the flagship digital storytelling application recommended for students at the University of Richmond. However, ver 2 for Windows 7, has changed drastically! While there have been some improvements from 2.0 to 2.02, are there any plans to allow for manual timeline editing (ie. stretching the duration of photos via anchors)? This would improve the usability of syncing audio. If this feature existed, as it did in 1.0, it would still be touted as our primary PC digital storytelling application. However 2.02 still, a great, free slideshow app for general purposes!

  2. I will submit your request to the programmers for manual timeline editing. In the meantime, you might try two other options using version 2.02...1) If you right click on the audio track, there is an option to "Stretch slides to fit audio track duration." 2) You could also try working in VideoPad. Just load your slides into the VideoPad timeline, and make sure you have the Sequence Style set to Timeline (lower left corner). Then drag the length of those slides around to your heart's content. I hope that helps!


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