Photo composition, sequencing and slideshows

Photos draw you into pages. Here, Edgar Allan Poe, aka poet and actor Mark S. Sanders, poses for a photo after our fall 2012 field trip The Reporters’ Tour of Baltimore.

Each of our stories should be accompanied by three pieces of multimedia:

  • A compelling photo of a main source in the story that exhibits strong composition
  • An audio/photo slideshow (with no reporter narration) that exhibits strong photo sequences
  • A small locator map created in Google Maps and embedded into the story


The basics

Don’t forget the cutlines

  • Cutlines are also known as photo captions, except usually captions “cap” the photo on top and cutlines “cut” underneath the photo and appear below it.
  • Cutlines are usually one to two sentences long. The first sentence should be in present tense and should describe what’s in the photo. If needed, the second sentence should be in past tense and deliver context or background.
  • Examples: AP photo feed via Yahoo

Photo sequences

Audio/photo slideshow

  • Find characters, actions. The best visuals are interesting people doing interesting things.
  • Use good composition and sequences: wide/medium/tight, the 5-shot sequence
  • Shoot your photos first, then record your interview.
  • Use the department Edirols to capture the best sound quality possible.
  • Need a refresher on editing photos or audio or using Soundslides? Download the free Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency (PDF)

Our slideshow model: Chess competition. Notice the mixture of wide/medium/tight shots, the progression of the source-narrated story, how the photos match the audio, the professional title and end slides.

Here are some great examples from my fall 2011 semester of MCOM 257. Their assignment: Only in Baltimore can you find someone who…

…is a duckpin bowler, by Brandi Bottalico.
…spent a year as Baltimore’s best hon, by Alyssa Rinaldi.
… spreads Baltimore hoop love, by Courtney Lockwood.

An embedded Google map

  • Go to
  • Map your address
  • Click the “link” button on the top-left of the page
  • Click “customize and preview embedded map”
  • Customize the width: 200×200, and center the map
  • Copy the embed code and paste it into the story’s HTML code

Finally, a reminder:

Video: Creativity and deadlines