How to Curate Your Family Photo Slideshows Like a Professional Editor


This post is written by guest author Rachel LaCour Niesen, Steward of Stories & Founder of SaveFamilyPhotos.

There’s one thing we all need more of – less! Most of us could use some spring cleaning, especially when it comes to our photo archives. We’re all buried under thousands of photos. We’re creating them every day at warp speed. From our iPhones to our Dropbox folders, most of us are photo hoarders. That’s why I think we need to be minimalists when it comes to creating family slideshows. Instead of including zillions of snapshots from every family vacation you’ve ever taken, consider curating carefully.

A few years ago, my family took a trip to Italy, to explore and discover my mother’s Italian roots. We traveled from Milan north to the Piedmonte region, where my family is located, and I took hundreds of photos along the way. I curated them to create this short slideshow with Animoto that tells the story of our trip:

Most magazine editors have years of experience culling and curating the best photos for their publications. Most regular folks – like you and me – don’t necessarily have years of practice curating. So we need a little help and some quick tips! That’s why I always turn to the tried-and-true formula used by editors at the famed LIFE magazine. Although LIFE isn’t around anymore, these tips are timeless. Keeping these eight tips in mind will help you curate your next family photo slideshows like a pro editor.

As you sit down to choose photos for your next slideshow, pretend you’re writing a story. Instead of words, you’re telling your story with images. Then, look for the following types of photos. Ask yourself, “do I have one of each type of photo in my slideshow?”

1. Portraits

Ideally candid, these images identify key characters in the story. For example, be sure you include a portrait of each key player in your family slideshow. When you guys went to Disneyworld, did grandma and grandpa come along for the fun? Then, by all means include snapshots of their grinning faces spinning around in the tea cups!

2. Scene Setters

Ideally an overall or wide shot, these images give viewers a sense of place, a setting for where key action takes place in the story. For example, did you include a sweeping view from your oceanfront AirB&B? Did you include a dramatic, wide shot of your family trip to the Grand Canyon?

3. Interaction

Ideally, these photos show relationships. Consider choosing photos of family members interacting with each other, exchanging expressions and sharing experiences. Don’t simply pick posed shots of family standing in front of landmarks. Find more candid pictures of family engaging with each other!

4. Honest Emotion

These types of photos reveal people’s personalities. Often, these images are of characters reacting to something happening in the story. Did uncle Bob tell a hilarious joke at dinner that made grandma turn beet red? If you captured that moment, be sure to include it in your slideshow! It will prompt great reactions from your family when they watch the slideshow. After all, seeing candid photos filled with real emotions helps everyone relive the family vacation!

5. People without People

This is my favorite type of photo to include in slideshows! Basically, these images are of inanimate objects or “details” that tell viewers something about the characters identity. For example, pictures of your grandmother’s childhood diary may tell us something about her love for her family legacy. Or, perhaps you photographed a bunch of bathing suits drying on the railing of your balcony after a family vacation? These are all fun photos to include in your slideshow. Don’t go crazy with these, though. Just pick a few fun ones to spice up your slideshow!

6. Transitions

These photos show characters in the slideshow moving from one part of the story to the next. Careful sequencing helps viewers understand how you guys got from Point A to Point B. For example, you could choose a photograph of your family riding in a ferry on your way back to your hotel after a snorkeling trip. Or, maybe you can choose a photo of your family riding on horses on a day-long hike into the Grand Canyon? Find photos that show your group in transit from one place to another! It helps the slideshow make more sense chronologically.

7. Decisive Moment or “Hero Shot”

This is usually the most dramatic or most stunning photo in your family slideshow. It’s a picture that makes everyone stop in their tracks because it sums up your entire vacation/trip/experience. For example, this photo could capture the moment when your family reached the summit of a long, intense hike. Or it could be a picture of everyone gathering around your grandparents cheering them on at their 60th wedding anniversary. (This is probably the photo that will elicit the strongest responses from family members when they watch your slideshow. Keep the Kleenex handy!)

8. Closing Shot

This is exactly what it sounds like! A closing shot is an image that ties up loose ends and communicates that the story has come to an end. It doesn’t really have to be literal shot; it could be evocative. For example, this type of photo could show your family members walking down a path at the end of a hike, or exiting Disney World at the end of a fun day.

Now you’re armed with eight types of photos to include when you’re curating your next family photo slideshow. Although no formula is perfect, this one will ensure that your slideshows are full of emotion and personality.

Are you new to Animoto? Find out how it works and sign up here.