A paper photo in a frame is so, well, 20th century. Why not give your memories some motion by displaying them in sentimental slideshows, playable on your computer, smartphone, tablet or TV?
Unlike physical slides clunking through carousels of old, these digital shows can play almost like mini-movies, with images that segue smoothly from one to the next and options to add music, narration and visual effects. They can make for magical viewing that evokes emotions and tells a story, too — say, showing your grandchildren growing from babies to kids to young adults.
Making a slideshow is a great way to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other milestone events, and to honor relatives and friends at funerals and memorials, whether in-person or virtual. A host of apps available for Windows, Apple and Android devices makes it easier than you might think — a couple even create the slideshow for you!
Before you begin
The first step is deciding what kind of device you want to use. Personally, I prefer the larger screen and mouse-based interface a computer offers, but there are plenty of paid and free options for phones and tablets if that's where you're more comfortable.
The second is collecting the memories. Once you've settled on a subject for your slideshow, gather photos (and, if you like, video clips) of the people, pets or places you want to focus on. Here's how to organize your images.
If any of the images in your planned show are in photo albums, picture frames or a shoebox full of memories, you will need to digitize them. There are multiple ways to do this:
- Pick up an inexpensive flatbed scanner or “all-in-one” printer (one that is also a scanner and a copier) and scan each photo.
- Send your paper photos to a scanning service that can digitize them for you, such as the Costco Photo Center or a specialty company like Scan My Photos.
- Use your smartphone to take a picture of the paper photo (though the quality won't be as good as a proper scan).
Digitizing has benefits besides making your old snapshots slideshow-ready. For one thing, the quality of the image will never fade over time. You can make an infinite number of copies of these precious memories, and the millionth reproduction will look just as good as the original. You can also edit the digital versions to, for example, cover up a tear in the paper, remove red-eye or crop out that tourist in the background with the loud floral shirt.
If your photos are already digital, it helps to put the ones earmarked for your slideshow all in one place, like a folder on your PC or Mac.
Often, they're stored on your smartphone, as that's probably what you used to take them. Getting them on your computer is easy, especially if you've backed up your phone to an external drive or cloud service. Just copy or download them from the backup storage device or website.