As a photographer, your images represent your voice. The way you share your images can affect whether or not your voice is heard. If you’re looking to make a statement with your photos and attract new clientele (while making fans of current clients), bring music into the picture and amplify your work in a slideshow presentation. In the same way that cinematic scores elevate Hollywood films, setting your photos to the right slideshow music can unlock the full potential of your imagery. With access to unlimited, royalty-free music libraries from stock music sites like Soundstripe, you can create the perfect soundtrack to complement your photos without worrying about copyright issues or other headache-inducing hassles. The last thing you want is to get hit with a costly lawsuit for illegally sharing a slideshow or video with unlicensed music.

To help you add more impact to your next slideshow (while avoiding any licensing issues), we offer the following five tips for choosing the perfect slideshow music.

1. Choose an Unlimited, Royalty-Free Music Plan

Understanding copyright law can be challenging and licensing songs from record labels is expensive; the good news is you can access quality, royalty-free music with an unlimited license through specialized music hubs and eliminate any worry about whether or not you can share the slideshow online or elsewhere. After all, you don’t want to waste time creating a project that you can’t share. Unlimited subscriptions are affordable, typically priced from $11 per month and up. The cost is especially low when compared to licensing a song through a major label (or else potentially paying the fine for not licensing the music you use), and sites like Soundstripe regularly add to their library of songs, which adds even more value. You can usually find different payment options to suit your budget and needs.

2. Take Advantage of Staff Picks

Sample of staff picks on Soundstripe for Slideshow Music
Example of staff picks under “Playlists” on Soundstripe that can be used for Slideshow Music

Rest assured, we’re not headed down a path to dated, elevator-inspired background music. The sheer volume of quality independent artists and royalty-free songs available on subscription-based music hubs is no less than impressive. While the prospect of browsing thousands of digital tunes may seem daunting at first, you can take advantage of helpful tools like curated staff picks to streamline the process. For added convenience, these playlists are often broken down by genre, which can be useful if you already have a particular style in mind.

[Related Reading: The Power of Same-Day Slideshows at Weddings]

3. Match the Mood

The photos and music in a slideshow should work in tandem toward a single purpose – tell a story that leaves a lasting impression on the viewer. When choosing slideshow music, be sure to find songs that pair well with the mood of the images. Although you may be tempted to hastily choose the first song at the top of the “most popular” list (which may or may not be right for your project), remember that a jarring song selection can prove distracting and defeat the purpose of sharing a slideshow in the first place. Instead, combine and use the keyword & category tools available on the stock music site of your choice to help simplify the process.

Having access to a “Mood” filter can simplify the process for choosing your slideshow music

Here are some examples of potential song choices for various genres of photography that I chose based on the “mood” and “playlist” tools used on Soundstripe. The entire search took only a few minutes:

Wedding Photos

Family Photos

Commercial/Business Story Photos

Depending on how in depth you want to go to create your soundtrack, you should also consider checking a song’s stem files if they’re available. These files isolate individual instruments recorded for the song, capturing a naked performance of a given instrument, and they can be used to great effect to build unique layers or change the mood of a song.

4. Curate and Test

Test the song with your slideshow to ensure the track works well with the images

After you’ve selected a list of possible songs for the ultimate slideshow music soundtrack, narrow down your list of favorites for each section of the slideshow (if you’re using more than one song) and then test the songs over the images. This will help ensure each song fits with its respective segment. Depending on the length of your slideshow, you may only need one song.

5. (Sound)Proof the Final Cut

When you feel like everything’s in its right place, take the slideshow for a test drive and make sure the project flows from beginning to end with the music tracks you’ve selected; you can always adjust if necessary. Depending on the scope of your project, such as using the slideshow to tell your business’s story, you might consider sharing it with friends and colleagues in order to get feedback before publishing it for a wider audience.

I’ve included a sample slideshow above, which I made using images from a wedding photographed by Lin & Jirsa Photography, featuring the song “Wherever You Are,” performed by Adrian Walther (featuring Jessie Villa) and available to license on Soundstripe.

Conclusion & Recap

At the end of the day, slideshows are relatively easy to put together and they require a minimal investment of your time and money. They offer an effective means of communication for a number of projects, including same-day wedding previews, showing off your work at a trade show/event, or even helping your clients proof their photos, among other applications. When scored with the perfect soundtrack, their effect only amplifies. Here’s a quick recap of how to choosing the perfect slideshow music:

  • Choose an unlimited, royalty-free music plan
  • Take advantage of staff picks
  • Match the mood
  • Curate and test
  • Proof the final cut

As a reminder, ensure the music you pair with your slideshow is licensed so that you avoid wasting time creating a product you can’t share publicly, or even more importantly, so you don’t wind up on the wrong side of copyright law. With the availability of affordable, unlimited licensing subscriptions to amazing libraries of music, it’s easy to do it right and make the most of a simple, yet powerful tool like slideshows.