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Oh No, Not Another Photo Montage ?
Article submitted by Terra Sorensen @ Chunky Little Munky Productions

How to have a slideshow presentation your guests will actually enjoy.

A slideshow presentation can get your guests talking – and not in a good way if it`s a presentation that looks like it was produced by the high school yearbook club. I am shocked at the amount of brides that care so much about having a top-notch event, but then present mediocre, cheesy productions at their receptions.

But it doesn`t have to be like that!  When done with creative flair and style, a slideshow presentation can really be a highlight of your reception and help take your event to a higher level.

The key things that most people get wrong are:

1.     Wrong music choice.

2.     Overuse of photo transitions.

3.     Length of show.

4.     Poor materials and planning.

Music
Avoid cliché songs at all cost! Try to get creative with your music choices.  Don’t be afraid to use music not everyone will recognize, as long as it is appropriate.  Using something fresh and new will help keep the audience engaged and watching the show, rather than trying to figure out if anyone would notice if they went to the bar for another drink.

The overall balance of the songs together is very important.  Don`t have an entire soundtrack of emotional ballads. Try to balance the softer music with something upbeat and fun to keep the energy in the room up.  A good soundtrack will help take the viewer through a range of emotions, but should always leave them with a smile on their face.

The soundtrack should begin end at the same time as the show. If you don`t have the ability to trim a song`s length, then try to manipulate the timing and number of the pictures manually to achieve a crisp ending. It appears sloppy when the music either ends too early or too late.

Photo Transitions and Motion
I have seen so many shows (even those done by professionals) that are completely ruined by the over use of photo transitions and movement.  When you have too many distracting special effects, your guests don’t get the chance to focus on the pictures.  The overuse of photo transitions also greatly contributes to making your show feel disjointed and amateur.  A good show should play more like a movie, or video album as I call it.  The fancy transitions can be used, but they must be used with careful thought.  Check each photo to make sure the transition effect used flows well with the surrounding photos, and that the transition effect and timing matches with the feel of the music.

Show Length
No more than 12:00 minutes, `nuff said.  6:00-10:00 minutes is even better. The only exception to this is for destination wedding slideshows (more to follow on that subject).

Materials
When selecting the pictures to be used, try and think of how they all fit into the story you are trying to tell your guests.  Sometimes people can get a little self indulgent with displaying old photos. See your show from the point of view of a wedding guest. I’m sure you remember your childhood trip to Disneyland fondly – but your guest doesn’t need to see 10 photos of it!

Red eye should be removed, dust and scratches should be touched up and photos should be colour corrected and cropped when necessary.  All of these little touches will really up the final quality of your show.

If you are using video, edit the clips so they are no longer than they need to be and make sure you either mute the audio, or carefully blend it with the soundtrack. Integrating video into your show can be tricky – if done poorly it will detract from the quality of your show rather than add to it.

Planning
The bride growing up, the groom growing up and then their lives together is a layout that always works well for a wedding reception show. Inserting captions or quotes is a fantastic way to personalize your presentation and keep the show from feeling too formulistic.  Don`t be afraid to get creative – but remember the overall story you are telling and make sure they flow together nicely. Just like photo transitions, less is more when it comes to using these features.

Humour is great to work into the show if you can find a way.  In one of the best shows I have ever seen, there was a funny photo of the groom wearing a 1980s style jacket as a teenager. 

After the slideshow ended, the best man actually brought out the jacket and challenged the groom to try it on!

Keep in mind that some people may not want their photos shown on a big screen.  Even close friends and family should be asked for their permission to display photos of them.  I`ve been to a wedding where there was an embarrassing photo of one of the bridesmaids. Sure, it was a funny moment – but the resulting scene between her and the bride left no one laughing.

One feature that can really up the overall quality of your slideshow and create a lasting impression on your guests is to have the slideshow subtly match with your wedding theme or colours.  How about adding your monogram on the title or the closing slide? You can even work in graphic design elements from your invitations to tie the whole theme together. The extra effort will create a polished and professional looking presentation.

Destination Weddings
Presenting pictures and video footage of the wedding day makes guests at an at-home reception feel like they were a part of your special day. It can really help bring back some of the emotion of the actual wedding day and up the energy in the room.  If you are taking video of your wedding vows, keep in mind destination weddings often take place on a beach and many brides return home to be disappointed when they find the wind overpowers their wedding vows in the audio. Make sure your videographer has good sound equipment, or if you are having a friend videotape, test out the strength on the camera’s microphone beforehand.

It is acceptable to have a destination wedding show go over 12:00 minutes in certain cases. For example, if you have footage of vows and speeches you would like to present.  Another alternative is to make two shows, one that is shorter for presenting at your reception, and one that is a longer keepsake version.

You should be able to make yourself a great show if you keep in mind the above tips, be objective about your materials and above all else, try to be creative!

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