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Sound Accompaniment In Travel Pictures

[Adventures In Travel Photography]  [How To Save Your Money On Travel Pictures]  [Care Of Your Photo Equipment During Your Travel]  [Composition Of Travel Pictures]  [How To Photograph People During Your Travel]  [Travel Pictures In Bad Weather]  [Close-Up Pictures In Your Travels]  [What To Do With Your Exosed Travel Films]  [Sound Accompaniment In Travel Pictures] 

Music, even though it may not be perfect will will greatly improve your film or color slide travel picture presentation. You will surely narrate your show, but you may also use travel music for the background of your narration. When you narrate, lower the music so the narration is more audible. But when there are pictures of your travel, for example a dance, then music will take the place of narration. When you show a person playing a musical instrument or a waterfall, the audience expects to hear a particular sound. Sometimes a good sound may improve your pictures.

Sound for travel pictures may consist of narration, background music, and special sound effects. You may also include original recorded dialogues that are lip synchronized with the film, and original recordings of music or musical instruments.

The narration of travel films should be complementary and explanatory to the pictures. You never need to tell what is already made clear on your pictures, but the audience will want additional information that is not obvious. What is this object? Where is it located? How old is it? This is additional information that is complementary to the picture, and gives historical background. The narration should never be continuous. Interruption is necessary. Speak with emotion. A monotone will put the audience to sleep. Remember to speak slowly, enunciate, and add emphasis to key words or phrases.

Background music can be found from records bought during your travel, at home in local record shops, or ordered from a large record catologue.

In a simple performance, you could just play a record during your picture presentation, and lower the music volumn when you speak. A better arrangement could be made by recording the music on a tape recorder from the record player. In this way you could edit the music from different parts of the record, or records, and include only the best parts of the music to suit your show.

By using a stereo tape recorder you could put your narration on one track and the background music on the other. Then you will have a fixed narration for your audience. The problem is synchronization with your show. With color slides you could have some audible tone recorded on one track have to change the slide. Some slide projectors will adapt to auxillary equipment that will automatically change slides from a silent pre-recorded signal.

With movie film there are other problems. Super 8 and 16mm film can get a magnetic strapping on which to record sound. Magnetic strapping can be painted or glued on the edge of the film. Laminated (glued) magnetic strapping is generally better, but the painted sound strapping which is less expensive may give excellent sound reproduction.

With movie films you may use a tape recorder for the sound, but the picture and sound will not stay synchronized for a long time. It will be necessary to stop the tape recorder or the projector to synchronize the picture and the sound. There are different attachments and gadgets to help you with the synchronization problem, but still the best solution is to have the sound recorded on the film. The sound on the tape recorder, though, will be of better quality than the sound on the film. This is especially true in super 8 which has only a narrow (25 mill) magnetic stripe and a film speed of 18 frames per second.

Today most travelers will take along a small portable cassette tape recorder which is only about two and a half pounds to carry. There will be many occasions to record the original music from different places in the countries you visit. The recordings will be poor if taken from large auditoriums or theaters unless you sit close to the orchestra. Sometimes you could just leave your tape recorder running in front of the performance and change the cassette every 30 or 40 minutes.

Another way to get better music is by using the radio. In most countries you will be able to hear regional music on the radio. You can record directly from the radio speaker to the tape recorder microphone but you will get better music if you have "hard wired" directly the radio to your tape recorder. this will record the music with no room noise interference.

With sound effects you will have some problems. You will often find that the original sound effect recording, for example a waterfall or sea waves, will not sound like the original sound you heard. There are many reasons for sound distortion. but you can buy many sound effect records and tapes. There are hundreds or sound effect recordings and every one is a perfect one. But in spite of this you may not be able to find the particular one, so make it yourself. There are special books on sound recordings that will tell you that a boat sound may be imitated with a lawn mower, and helicopter with a fan, and a water fall with a toilet flush, and many other sound substitutes which will sound better than the actual recording. Use your imagination and try your own. You will be amazed at what can be done. Rice sprinkled on a metal plate from a height of about one foot can imitate rain, a hammer hit on a table can be a gun shot, hitting a flat hand on hamburger meat can be punching somebody in the face, a nylon brush on a nylon carpet can be skiing, a fork rubbed on a metal plate can be a car brake.

In looking for musical recordings for your background music, look for records with instrumental music only and no singing. You will often find that it is hard to find such records. Addition of sound to a picture presentation is a must for a better show. With a little care it is possible to find the right background music, sound effects, and narration to make your pictures come alive.


A presentation of excellent travel pictures with good sound still needs one more ingredient to make an enjoyable show. You need good showmanship. The presentation depends on it, and other such details which could make the presentation a pleasure or a disaster. Never hurry: have your seats and room temperature comfortable, give your audience a little rest before the presentation, serve your drinks or food (if applicable) before the show, and have everything ready, ahead of your guest's arrival.

Nothing is worse than a prolonged, dull show with some technical problems. Know your audience. Some people who are particularly interested in your photography may want to watch for one hour or maybe two, with an intermission. But as for other people, a twenty minute show may be too long and they may only watch it to please you.

The best way to calculate the length of time of time of your show is to ask yourself; suppose your friends invited you for a similar show, how long would you like to sit and watch? What would you answer if he asked You? Would you like to watch ALL of his slides for two hours, or watch only the BETTER slides for one hour, or only the BEST ones for half an hour? But maybe your slides are better or more interesting?

Before every movie or color slide presentation, inform your guests on the basics of your travel, what time of the year that you went, where and why you went, and some general information will save you from answering the questions at a later time and will give your audience a better understanding of your presentation. Then inform your guests that all other questions will be answered after the show.

If you wish to narrate your presentation live, stand on the side of your screen, and tell the audience the story of your travel. This does not mean a description of each picture, but a continuing story of your travel with the help of your slides. Tell not what is already obvious from seeing the color slides, but give explanations and additional information about the shown pictures, continuing through your travel. Nothing is better than to include some humor once in a while. Stop your narration after thirty or forty seconds and let your audience's ears rest, so that only their eyes may enjoy your picture sequence. Your background music may continue.

It is important that the room is completely dark. In prepatation of your slides and film, eliminate all the BAD pictures. Do not appologize for the imperfection of your pictures or your show. If something is wrong the audience may not notice it. (The silly won't notice it, the difference and the Clever will think it should be so.)

If you must explain a picture, the best way is to use an indirect approach. For example, showing a pig farm in Canada you could say "Pork is the most important farm product of Alberta province".

Planning the sequence of your show is important. The beginning must grab the audience's interest. Start by using some of your best picture. But from time ot time use a powerful picture or sequence to build a small climax. Divide your show in a few parts, and each part should increase interest to a more interesting climax. Then, again, build a second sequence through the second story to some better end. It is not possible to keep your audience alert all the time for one hour or longer, but from time to time a new sequence or narration may raise the audience's interest. Try to achieve maximum interest and maximum excitement just before the last pictures. Then bring on a happy but unexpected ending.

If you have the presentation of your travel pictures in your home and you feel that your pictures may not be very pleasurable to watch, then you may greatly improve your show by pre paring your audience with good drinks or special food. After a good meal, drinks, or snacks, your happy audience will be better able to digest your poor pictures.

The selection of the pictures and the commentary should be done to fit your particular audience. The same travel pictures would be differently selected and edited with different com mentaries when shown, for example, to your church group or to your close friends. Every audience will have a particular interest in a particular part of your travel pictures. Some like to see flowers, others like to see animals, but everybody likes seeing children. When you have a mixed audience of people with different interests, just select something for everybody and make everybody happy.

In summary, the success of your travel picture presentation will depend not only on your pictures, but also on all the preparations and circumstances of the evening. This will include how you will present your pictures, all the details on how to make your audience the most comfortable, the preparation for your show, and even brainwashing for the best acceptance and success of your show.


The market for travel pictures is restricted. There are a few possibilities of making money from your travel pictures, and very few possibilities of making a living from travel pictures.

Your travel story, with a few black and white pictures, could be published in your local newspaper. You may sometimes be paid for your story or for your pictures. Of course there are a few national travel magazines, including the National Geographic, which publishes travel stories every month with pictures. But they have their own staff and an outsider has very little chance of success. But if you have an unusual picture, you might try. If your story is superior and with a little luck, you may be paid.

You may have a better chance if you try with your own professional magazine. These editions are restricted to professional groups or hobbies. In writing for your own group you might have ideas that would be of special interest to them. In this way your pictures may be accepted. There are too many places to buy color slides (usually poor color ones) from anywhere in the world. Occasionally, a company who sells slides or a series of slides from you. But do not expect any large payment.

If you sell your photographs, you may qualify to deduct the cost of travel, or cost of film and equipment. Generally you would have to prove that your main intention of traveling was taking pictures for profit. When you lose money, your expenses may still be deductable. In most cases your tax credit from the mentioned business will be questionable. But if you are able to organize your own travel show, with a movies or color slides, where people will pay admission, then you have your own business. It is more than probable that your travel and picture making expenses could be tax deductable.

You have a better chance with movies. Today few T.V. stations will accept Super8 films but 16mm color films of your travel will have a better chance of acceptance. Naturally such films should be taken at 24 frames per second with a tripod, and the pictures must be made with the T.V. interest in mind. (Close and semi close pictures are preferable) You could get on a program where you narrate your own film. Generally a 30 minute program will require a film edited to twenty minutes with ten minutes for T.V. announcements and commercials, or a forty minute film for a one hour program. Your local station will probably be the best place to ask. If your film gets recognition it may go on national T.V. There are many stations and you may receive a good profit for your films.

Some companies who manufacture the particular film or camera you use, may be interested in buying superior pictures of your travels for their own advertising.

Some countries or travel agencies may buy your pictures for use in their travel advertisements.

Watch for film contests. There are many film contests listed in photo and travel magazines. Your travel picture may get a highly paid award. These contests usually have their own theme or topic, but some of your travel pictures may be just right for their demands.

There are many photo agencies, (you can get the addresses from any photo magazine) and there are special books with addresses of companies, who are buying pictures.

By travelling in a group, you could take pictures of the group members and sell them for profit. Everybody would be happy to pay for good pictures of their own travel. Travelling with a newly opened railroad or airline, you may have a good chance to sell your pictures for their advertisements.

Large prints of your travel pictures may be hung on the wall of your own business, or may be given or sold to your friend's business for a decoration. This could even be a fully income tax deductable gift.

There is no easy way to make money from your travel pictures. It is possible, though, and there are more ways than the ones mentioned. But the most "profit" from your pictures will come from your personal satisfaction of producing interesting artistic photographs. The pictures will be the best memory of your travel experiences.


When traveling do not always take pictures of the natives, but also take pictures of the tourists. You often find some of the most interesting pictures on how amazing or phoney some tourists will behave in a foreign land. Not only do the tourists look at the natives, but often the native people are much more amused by the tourist's actions.

When taking pictures of temples and monuments, include some pictures of the simple houses and streets. Most people will like to see pictures of how the simple people live.

You can never see or have pictures of everything. First, your time will always be limited. Then there are other factors, such as time needed to sleep, eat and move. There are weather changes, and sometimes it is your personal feeling. You have little desire to take pictures when you have a "stomach ache".

You learn to take better pictures through your own experience. But you may learn from other people's experience either by directly watching them, or by getting some good book photography or a guide book with good pictures. When somebody else can get such good pictures you should try to make even better ones. You will often find other travelers with cameras, and it is good to exchange photographic experiences and knowledge.

Picture taking in museums is often not only a problem but a headache. Some large museums will not allow any picture taking. (like the Vatican Museum) Others will have restrictions; no tripod or no flash. Some exibitions behind glass where light reflection becomes a problem. Most museums offer color slides for sale (which usually are very poor) or color postcards which are a much better buy. Later you can copy these postcards on slide film. Every museum presents a different problem, such as artificial light or light through windows. If you come at the right time of day the sun may make very good lighting on some of the museum exibitions. You will also find that the museum restrictions are sometimes not enforced. When in the summer, the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican is packed with tourists shoulder to shoulder to shoulder. Despite the signs forbidding photography everybody is making pictures and the guards are helpless. Generally, in London, Vienna, Paris, and Amsterdam you will find few problems, especially if you use a more sensitive film such as High speed Ektachrome (ASA 160). But still, the pictures made in museums will seldom bring about great audience interest, with the exception of some of the famous statues or pictures.

Every place will have different problems and often different restrictions, like in Egypt at the Pharoh's graves. Ask, or take a picture and later ask and appologize. In some places the museum guard may be cooperative and bring the desired object of the museum outside in the sun for your pictures. But in other places the museum guard will even take your camera just to be sure you will not attempt to take any pictures.

Sometimes the restriction will be for only a large camera. You may use a 35mm camera, but a large camera, like a 4 X 5 will be forbidden. The same is with movie cameras. You may use an 8 or super 8, but not a 16mm camera. In some places you can use a 16mm camera but you may only hand hold it with no tripod, such as in Pompei.

Some places, as in India or Mexico, you must have special permission from some local or state authority to take pictures. This is especially true if you would like to use a tripod and 16mm movie camera. Such permission is usually easily granted, but still this may complicate your traveling because the place to obtain a permit may be far away from the place where you wish to take your pictures.

Not everybody objects about pictures. You may find in some small castles that when the owner sees you with your camera and sees you are anxious to take pictures, will show you some different places for better pictures.

In taking pictures in foreign countries it is sometimes good to take them with comparison in mind. Later you could show a street of Moscow and next a street in Detroit and see little difference between them. Very often a street from different places of Europe will not be recognized as foreign. The world is changing by getting more and more similar internationally. The people often dress and look the same.

When traveling always have your camera ready. You never know what will happen. Even when something unpleasant happens, take pictures. They could be the most interesting ones of your travel. If you see any disasters, of course the first thing is to help, but if you can not help, take pictures.

Traveling with a camera will often put you in different situations. Generally, with the exception of Communist countries, you should have little problems even when you "accidently" take a picture because you did not see the sign "No Photography".

What happens in a Communist country? The police will catch you taking some pictures which is, according to the local law, forbidden. Very often you will get a warning. I have seen a film where an object was shown, and next the police were running to the camera. But in the next place there were again similar pictures. The cameraman just went from one place to another and did take pictures even with the policeman running after him with warnings. Sometimes you will be asked for your passport; sometimes you will be taken to the police station where your film will be taken from your camera. There were tourists that had all their film taken away from them with the promise that they would get them back after developing, but never did get them back. You have probably read of one tourist, who, when in Communist China did take many pictures despite the guide warnings. Nothing happened to him untill he was leaving China, when all of his films were taken away. He lost all of his pictures.

Taking pictures is fun, but never lose common sense and never offend the country's laws that you are visiting. It is better to be rather on the conservative side and avoid trouble.