I have been asked to do a presentation at the big, new OPTIC travel and photo conference that is being sponsored by Linblad and B&H down in New York City on May 4th. Very nice to be asked and I am very glad to present to a group of interested photographers.

Presentations like this are pretty much old hat to me now. I used to be intimidated and unsure but now after 30 years of doing presentations to all kinds of people at all kinds of venues I now look forward to speaking to  large groups. Ten, 100 or 1000- it’s all pretty much the same to me now.

Putting together presentations has also become old hat for me, again competence through repetition. But I have come to realize that many people are unsure how to put a presentation together and don’t know the ‘rules’ for an effective show of images. So here are a few of my key rules for an effective picture show:

1. Keep the presentation short- leave your audience wanting more not hoping for it to end. thirty minutes is a good length with a 5 minute how di do at first and 10 minutes for questions or follow-up at the end. If your program is a hour long be sure to provide pillows.

2. Images should be on the screen for 6-10 seconds- 4 or 5 seconds is too short and creates a choppy presentation and 12 to 15 seconds is too long- people will get bored with the shot and their minds will wander.

3. Start with your 4 or 5 very best images and end with your remaining 4 or 5 best images. If you have weak images (we all do) that need to be shown to carry the presentation along hide them in the middle but don’t put them all together, it will kill the show.


4. Cluster horizontals together and verticals together as best you can and try not to go back and forth between horizontal and vertical shots in succession. If you present a 5 image series of horizontal, vertical, vertical, horizontal, vertical someone in your audience will groan audibly or cry out in pain.

5. You will have to switch between a horizontal series and a vertical series several times in your presentation so try to ease the visually jarring difference by linking the transition by color or subject. In other words, put a strong navy horizontal with a strong navy vertical or a vertical sunset with a horizontal sunset.

6. Same applies in the body of your presentation – put similarly exposed or hued images together as best you can.

7. Also be aware of the scale of your subjects. I prefer to start with the subject small and then get closer with the next images-  like visually leading your viewer into the subject. Don’t jump the scale all around so that on one shot you are very close, the next far away, the next close again, etc.

8. You don’t have to use music  or have a music interlude. In my humble opinion, music is way overused and usually means that the presenter has nothing to say and is just trying to pad the program. If a musical interlude with images enhances your presentation and contributes to what you are trying to say then fine. But if it just music that lengthens a program for no good reason don’t do it.

9. Keep the transitions between each image consistent and inconspicuous. I have seen presentations where between each image a different fade is going on, it drives me crazy. If the main thing I take away from your program is that you know how to include 22 different kinds of fades then your program is a bust.


10.  Use a short fade for most of your transitions between images. There are times when an abrupt jump is appropriate to what you are showing and times when a long fade is fabulous but most of the time don’t distract your audience with sizzle when all they want is a little steak.

11. Keep your message short and to the point. And be yourself. Don’t use big words you wouldn’t typically use and don’t get into topics you barely understand and wouldn’t normally talk about. Tell a story of when things didn’t work out or when you really screwed up- it will make you human and will allow your audience to connect with you.

12. Don’t lecture, don’t scold, don’t moralize, just use your images to tell a story. Everyone loves a story, especially one with pictures. The more you vary from that the more you are going to be in trouble.

That being all said, anybody have a good idea what I can talk about?