Using photos and audio together is an effective way to tell a story. The following article provides some of the basics for creative photo stories at your radio station. 

Photo stories, audio slideshows or pictorial audio stories are all the same way of describing a story that is told using a combination of images and audio whilst thinking of the audio and images complementing each other. They mix the effectiveness and intimacy of audio with the visual aid of images and graphics to tell a story. Take a look at the video below to familiarise yourself with the basics of an audio story:

The key thing to remember when telling a story using photos is to take a wide variety of shots and styles of images. You might combine photos you’ve taken of the subject of the story and the surrounds with graphics depicting things like maps, graphs and infographics. There are also ways to make the images you take more lively and interesting for example by using the Ken Burns effect (note: this works best for landscape images). The pictures in your photostory should be able to tell a narrative on their own. This is why you should think about setting the scene, establishing shots and going into more detail. 

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The audio you use will be effective if it comes from a variety of sources, both recorded on your own and sourced (with permission of course). Use a combination of talking, music and sound effects to tell your story and don’t be afraid to get experimental with it!

The Images

First you set the scene
Where is your story taking place? Which country? Which city? If it’s taking place in the bustling city of Sydney take a photo of cars on the street and add some audio of the surrounds to give it ambience. If it is happening at someone’s house, you might want to take a couple shots of the suburb, you can use ambient sounds underneath to paint a picture. 

2. Medium Shot

Slowly advance further into where the action of your story is taking place. This builds anticipation and tells your audience where it is happening. You might decide to take a photo of your subject standing outside their house, making sure to get their entire house in the shot. Or a picture of the building or location where they work. 

3. Portrait

Establish a clear shot of your subject. What do they look like? What do they do? By taking a portrait of them you can tell your audience a lot about who they are as a person. Need some inspiration? Take a look at the finalists of the National Photographic Portrait Prize 2016

4. Capturing details

This is where you go into even more depth by setting the intimate scene around the story or the subject. What pictures are up on the walls? How clean is their house? What about their backyard? What notes did they leave themselves on the fridge?

5. Capturing action

Every narrative culminates in some kind of action. Choose the shots you will use for the action wisely. Ideally the topic of your story and the action shots will be in sync and will show the subject of your story doing something. Are they a doctor? Maybe your action shot will be them operating or diagnosing someone.

Don’t stress if your action shots are a bit blurry. In fact some blurry action shots are good because they indicate movement! Try making a sequence of photos to depict action. This photo story on ballet by the BBC is a great example as it captures the action of the dancers and the movements of their bodies.

If you want to go further into capturing the action of your subject, it can be useful to follow the ‘Five shot sequence‘ technique which can be applied to any situation. 1. Get a close-up shot of their hands (to show they’re doing something but not necessarily what they are doing), 2. Get a close-up shot of their face (to show how they’re feeling while they’re performing the task), 3. Wide shot, 4. Over the shoulder, 5. Unusual angle. Following this technique will help you break down the action.

 The Audio

Don’t be afraid to record ambient sounds as well as talking and music. The more diverse the sounds you include the better and more interesting the piece will be.

Resources

Check out Slide.ly, a great website for making photo stories 
Read all about The Evolution of NPR’s Picture Stories
Need to brush up on your audio recording skills

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