Photographers always say they like to make pictures that tell a story, and I feel the same way. During my last formal photography class (in high school!) I had an assignment to do a photo essay and I was supposed to compose a story with photographs.

I bombed it. My essay was so boring, I fall asleep just thinking about it. I didn’t have a visual story at best I had some loosely related pictures.

And really, I could classify many of my picture sets as loosely related. For instance, when I get together with my family, I enjoy making pictures with them, but I’m not focussed on making a cohesive photo project, nor should I be. Being present for the moments is more important than recording the moments with a camera.

However, there’s a terrific app that makes it simple to create a cohesive story with pictures of any kind because it lets us combine spoken words, music, and graphics to help us relate a story or idea. Its called Adobe Voice, and I’m in love.

Voice Icon
Adobe Voice, for iPad.

Ill tell you about it, show you a sample, and then I have some workflow ideas to make it your stories easy to tell.

Free and fast

Adobe Voice is really simple to use, and its a free download for iPad. You’ll need to login with your Adobe ID, but that’s a free if you don’t already have one. Once downloaded, watch the included tutorial about how it works and you’ll be ready to start combining pictures with recorded voice to tell stories.

Icons, music and themes

I’ve noticed that the videos I enjoy watching are rich with content. They not only have interesting pictures and words, but they also have good music and graphics to help move it along.

Adobe Voice includes a library overflowing with music, graphics (called icons), and themes which are free to use to augment your story. The music automatically fits with your video and it couldn’t be simpler to use. Icons match all kinds of ideas and the search tool is really good just enter an object or mood you’re looking for and you’ll find dozens of related pictures. The themes are the background and transitions that will be applied automatically slide to slide, and they aren’t static. You’ll see in my example below that the backgrounds include animation to help keep your audience engaged with your images.

Also, the app does a great job of making the sound good. I recorded mine in a conference center, but there is no trace of background noise.

Guided content creation

Adobe Voice has wonderful media to augment your story, as well as themes which include suggestions for how to compose a story. Choose a type of presentation and it’ll prompt with what kinds of things to say and show. It’s really helpful to have the outline to help make your story flow logically.

Automatic animation

As you add a slide, Voice prompts you to record your voice for a few seconds telling about what is on the slide. After you record your voice on each slide, you can press play to proof it and rerecord if necessary. Voice adds the music, transitions, and little animations to the background and icons on its own, and it just works really well.

My first try

If I made a video like this on my own, Id first have to learn to use three or four major video applications on the desktop. I love this tool, and I think you’ll love it, too.

Here’s a video I made for my four-year-old daughter to help her get ready to take her first airplane flight. I made the pictures at the airport, and after I prepared the pictures in Lightroom, it only took me ten minutes to put the whole thing together, and it was my first try with the app.

Workflow tips

Adobe has done a stellar job with all their apps. It made it easy to use this tool by preparing my pictures in Lightroom, and syncing with Lightroom mobile. First I sorted and found the pictures I wanted to use at this first pass I had more pictures than I ended up using, but that’s OK.

Select and finish the pictures for your slideshow.
Select and finish the pictures for your slideshow.

Next, I finished the pictures off in Lightroom as I usually do to make them look presentable. Remember, these pictures don’t all need to be masterpieces because your viewers will only see them for a few seconds as the video plays. It’s quite liberating to make the pictures look good enough for this purpose and not worry about whether they’ll look good as enormous enlargements. The story is more important than the image quality.

Making a collection with all the pictures I want to use let's me sync them with Lightroom Mobile, and reorder them for renaming or exporting.
Making a collection with all the pictures I want to use let’s me sync them with Lightroom Mobile, and reorder them for renaming or exporting.

With the pictures ready to show, I put them all into a single collection, and I did this for two reasons. In a collection I can reorder the pictures to put them in a more logical order to tell the story I’m working on. Also, I can simply sync this collection with Lightroom Mobile to make the pictures available on my iPad. On the iPad, choose “Enable Offline Editing” to have the pictures available even when you’re not connected to the internet. Having the pictures handy on my iPad makes it easy to make the video anytime, anywhere

If you’re not using the Creative Cloud, then you don’t have access to Lightroom Mobile. Instead, you can export the pictures and they’ll be renamed in the order you’ve arranged them in the collection, then transfer these to your iPad using iTunes sync.

Why use Voice? (Hint: it’s perfect for the holidays)

Now that I’ve made a slideshow using Adobe Voice, I keep thinking of new ways to use it. I’ll help my daughter make a slideshow using pictures we make together at the airport. I’ll use it for making some simple explanatory videos about photographic ideas. But best of all, I’ll use it for telling stories during the holidays.

I think a slideshow story like this is the perfect gift for family. There aren’t a lot of things I can buy for grandparents in my family, but I think they’d really appreciate a story about our family reunion earlier this year, or a recap of my family’s adventures. It’s the perfect way to share pictures and stories with family members spread around the world, and it’s so simple that I’m excited for my daughter to start using it herself.

Go download Adobe Voice for your iPad, and give it a shot. I know you’ll love it. I realize that this is only for iPad, but it’s excellent. Maybe your holiday gift to the grandparents in your life should be an iPad for yourself so you can share your family’s stories with them ;)