Show Your Travel Photos Like a Pro


Presenting the Best of Your Travels – A Photo Journey

As travelers, we have a gift to share with others who hold an interest in such adventures. Some have not yet had the opportunity, are not interested in, or are unable to visit the places we have been, while others might recall their memories of the location. Sharing our travel experiences thoughtfully and with care is a wonderful way to take guests on a voyage, from the comfort of home.

The tips and suggestions offered in this article are drawn from my experiences in presenting and attending many slide shows, taking courses in visual-presentation and photography, including a workshop facilitated by contributors to the National Geographic magazine.

Giant Silk Worm Caterpillar-Mexico
Giant Silk Worm Caterpillar Mexico

For those presenting their own materials to personal contacts, please read on and I hope these suggestions aid in showcasing the best of your travels. Please note, the topic of restrictions and laws governing the public and commercial use of photographs is not covered in this article.

Planning to share your travel experiences

The time has come. You’ve put together a show of your latest trip and plan to invite your family and a few close friends for a viewing. Let’s explore ways to create an enjoyable experience for you and your valued guests.

Appreciating your viewers

Respect the time and attention offered by your guests in attending your show. They will appreciate seeing your best work, presented within a reasonable amount of time, and complemented with an appropriate amount of brief narrative.

Creating an effective presentation.

Who is your audience? Family, friends, co-workers, neighbours, or a specific-interest group? What is the main topic or theme of the presentation? What aspects will you convey? Activities, animals, architecture, art, attractions, cuisine, historical sites, landscapes, local customs, monuments, people, regional dress, vegetation, vehicles or perhaps a specific interest (birds, boats, bridges, flowers, planes, sea life, sunken ships)? Incorporate a variety of subjects and perspectives to enhance interest.

Forbidden City, Beijing, China
Forbidden City, Beijing, China

Engaging your viewers in the travel experience

Choose high-quality photos that reflect the theme and aspects you wish to convey. Organize the photos so there is a flow and consistency, and let the photos tell the story. Complement pictures with a short, engaging, and pertinent story, note something about the object (what it is, where the picture was taken), or simply remain silent and allow people to enjoy what captures them about the photo.

Organize the photos so there is a flow and consistency, and let the photos tell the story.

If there is music, set the volume low enough so that people can easily hear narratives, questions, and comments.

Mask, China
A large festive mask, perched high above the street, China

Keep the presentation short, concise, and focused on your audience and their enjoyment. People’s attention might start to wander at seeing numerous pictures of the Eiffel Tower, listening to the minutiae of opal mining in Coober Pedy, or hearing the comprehensive history of Caernarfon Castle. Varied images and high-level stories, transitioned at a comfortable pace, are more likely to hold viewers’ attention. Allow time after the show to answer questions and provide greater detail.

Aim to create an experience that will leave your guests feeling richer for having attended and looking forward to the next event.

Choosing photographs for the presentation

Select high-quality photos (clear image, the picture has a point of interest, good lighting, framed or cropped to show an interesting perspective).

A facilitator at the National Geographic Photo Workshop suggested limiting the number of photos to 80 or less, to maintain your audience’s interest. Although you may have hundreds of excellent photos, use your topic to focus on selecting only the best, relevant images.

A facilitator at the National Geographic Photo Workshop suggested limiting the number of photos to 80 or less to maintain your audience’s interest.

Include photos that engage the senses or that elicit a positive, touching, or uplifting emotion. Consider angle, lighting, proximity to the object, background (soft, muted, or in clear focus).

Woman in a Tea-Plantation,-Kerala India
A woman picking tea leaves in the Munnar hills of Kerala, India, an area known for its tea plantations, Kerala India

To respect people’s privacy, use only those where you received permission to take their photo. If not, ensure they are facing away from the camera, or their face(s) are obscured.

Being aware of photos to avoid

With the intent to show captivating photos, avoid images that could lessen the quality of the show or introduce a negative feeling in anyone attending.

  • Repetitious slides (same or similar objects; many angles of the same subject);
  • Poor quality images (blurry, over- or under-exposure, lacking a central point of interest, distracting background);
  • Jarring photos (a snake coiled, looking into the camera, and whose image fills the screen could be unsettling to those with an aversion to reptiles, especially if they are not expecting that type of image to appear);
  • Unsuitable images (photos that would cause embarrassment or humiliation to a person, whether or not they are present in the room or known to you);
  • A picture of someone who has not given permission to use their photo;
  • Images that would be unsettling to your audience. A stark photo taken in a poorer region might be difficult for viewers to observe. If portraying something harsh, do so with sensitivity and subtleness, out of respect for those in the area and for your viewers. Difficult and less-than-ideal conditions, according to our societal values, can be acknowledged and commented on without showing troubling images.
Street Vendor’s Cart, China

Let the purpose of your show to engage and uplift be your guide in the selection and story-telling process.

Engaging the senses and emotions

Create a memorable experience by choosing photos that will engage the senses and emotions. Consider using close-up images to invoke the viewer’s subtle senses. Do images stimulate the viewer’s imagination? Can you almost feel one of these small fruit in your inhale its scent, and anticipate tasting its sweetness?

Hearts naturally soften at seeing images that suggest gentleness or innocence, while bright and action-oriented scenes can enliven a person.

Are there scenes that take you back in time? Perhaps the image evokes a sense of vibrancy that makes a viewer want to pack a suitcase and go there now!

A castle positioned high above a peaceful landscape and crowned by clouds might elicit thoughts of King Arthur and Merlin, where the medieval castle seems to portray a protective sentinel watching over and caring for its inhabitants. Below, dramatic clouds frame Boston Harbour skyscrapers to give an inviting sense of activity and excitement.

Boston-Harbour,-Boston USA
View of Boston Harbour, Boston USA

What cultural differences did you observe? While touring New Delhi India, those of us from North America were taken aback by the constant honking of horns. Although change is occurring, our guides informed us that drivers honk to let others know they are going to pass. Horn-honking was the accepted means of communication between drivers! What types of food do local people eat and how is it prepared and presented?

Fresh Vegetarian Cuisine, India

Preparing for the presentation

Practice until you present with ease and are comfortable using electronic devices needed for the show.

Ensure that electronics are working and communicating with one another. Check that devices are fully charged, situated where they can be plugged into a wall socket, or their batteries have sufficient charge (keep new batteries on hand, if needed).

On the day of the get together, login to your devices, open any required applications, and connect ‘Smart’ devices before guests arrive.

Creating a pleasant environment for your guests to enjoy the show

Ideally, present in a room with soft lighting or where the lights can be dimmed. Soft lighting is calming and easier on the eyes, while full light or a dark room can have the opposite effect.

Ensure the viewing surface or screen is free of glare or reflections. Provide your guests with comfortable seating and an unobstructed view of the screen.

Offer refreshments and snacks before and/or after the show. Regional flavours reflecting your travels could be a nice touch!

Enjoy the process and appreciate the time spent sharing travel adventures with your guests.

BlowRHorn, India bus decor
Bus Decor BlowRHorn, India

About the Author

Linda Martin is a semi-retired IT professional with expertise in visually presenting complex data.  At an early age, she had the desire to travel and experience different cultures. She has visited many areas of the world and is always grateful for the opportunity to share photos and stories of her travels with family and friends.

Photo Credits: Linda Martin

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