Arabia in Audio: Visual Storytelling through the Audio Slideshow

A screencap from the “News in Pictures” section on BBC.com. Storytelling through photography is still a powerful and popular medium for journalists.

We are visual beings. From the art on the packaged food we buy to photographs and videos flooding our timelines on social media, the power of visual communication is especially present in our age of digital media.

Journalists and storytellers utilize a multitude of media and formats to tell stories. They may use a podcast to give us a personal, in-depth view of a specific issue. A video might be their choice for an emotionally charged account of those affected by a natural disaster.

Although we are currently experiencing the heyday of video storytelling above all else, still photography remains one of the most powerful tools for descriptive, visual storytelling. One way storytellers can elevate the impact of photo storytelling is through the audio slideshow — which employs the emotion of audio to give an extra sense of “movement” and atmosphere to an already striking series of photographs.

A high-quality audio slideshow does not compensate for poorly shot, or mundane, photographs with excellent audio, and neither does the opposite scenario apply. Both audio and photographic elements must be pristine to immerse the viewer fully into the story.

One of my favorite examples of audio slideshows is part of a television program produced by BBC, named “Wild Arabia”. I discovered this piece recently and was struck by the atmosphere producer Dualtagh Herr created. In it, the viewer is met with a contrast of soothing Arabian music which gives the illusion of natural sound. These elements together transform a slideshow of striking images which one simply looks at into something one experiences.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the viewing experience is the knowledge that each shot tells a unique story, which combines with others to form a cohesive and impactful whole. Human interest stories like these lend themselves well to visual media because the stories are about issues that are meaningful to people in their own communities.

Conservation being the overarching theme of this slideshow, one can see both news values of impact and of human interest at play. The beginning of the slideshow sets the audience up with the beauty of untouched Arabia and ends with a statement on conservation and the impact of steadfast industrial growth in the region.

The interviews are crisp and punchy; the music well-placed and setting the mood intended for the voice overs. By nature of the spot-on execution of both quality of sound and of photography, this audio slideshow as a result is a piece that not only informs, it feels.

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I am a journalism major at Missouri Western State University aiming to become a photographer for a travel or entertainment publication.

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Chase Merwin

Chase Merwin

I am a journalism major at Missouri Western State University aiming to become a photographer for a travel or entertainment publication.

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