Photo composition, sequencing and slideshows

Also: Towson journalism alumni FlynnFinity is Baltimore’s Best Instagrammer

Today we’re reviewing the basics on composition, sequencing and slideshows. These should be things you already know and are using. If any of this is new to you, then you’re in for a surprise. These few simple tips and tricks will dramatically increase the quality of your multimedia stories.

Multimedia story elements

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. A strong head shot works well.
  • 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
  • Example: Hidden Baltimore’s Graffiti Alley


These are the basics of composition:

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, WordPress photo uploader
  • SEO tip #1: Change the title of your image so that it is searchable. “BaltimoreGraffitiAlley.jpg” is more SEO friendly than “DSC_104526.jpg.”
  • SEO tip #2: Don’t forget the alt-text. This helps your SEO and accessibility.

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.

To do your best work, get a head start

Video: Creativity and deadlines

One comment on “Photo composition, sequencing and slideshows
  1. Still teaching students good material I see. Can’t wait to see the stories the new students in this class will produce!

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