Tewfic El-Sawy on why photojournalists love audio slideshows

Photojournalist Tewfic El-Sawy teaches Soundslides in his Multimedia for Photographers class at the Foundry Photojournalism Workshops. This year, students who were in other classes told him they wished they’d also learned the audio slideshow program. He blogged about their conversation, and then wrote to Soundslides retelling the anecdote. We called him to discuss it.

“The workshop has 120 to 150 students, most of whom are photographers and photojournalists,” El-Sawy said. “There are two multimedia classes. Mine is based on Soundslides. The rest of the instructors teach photography in the traditional sense — still photography.”

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As he wrote in his blog post, the purpose of his class is to “show photojournalists how to make quick work of slideshow production using their own images and audio generated in the field, to produce cogent photo stories under the simulation of publishing deadlines, rivaling other multimedia forms in terms of quality.”

“I only use Soundslides,” El-Sawy said. “I’ve been using it for the past 5, maybe 6, years, when the Foundry invited me to teach. My class emulates a live assignment, teaching the students to use Soundslides and to present their projects to me as if I were a photo editor at a newspaper.”

El-Sawy is also a freelance photographer who documents endangered cultures and traditional ways of life in Asia, South America and Africa. He leads invitation-only photo expeditions to the Himalayan kingdoms of Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim, and Indochina. Occasionally he uses Soundslides at the end of a group trip to produce a quick presentation for the participants.

“As I wrote in an earlier post: Multimedia (whether as audio-slideshows with ambient sound, or as more elaborate productions) is the future, and photographers must hop on its train if they want to remain on the cutting edge of their industry and retain the attention of viewers.”

Audio Slideshows Steal the Show

“For presentations to a large audience, as in the Foundry Workshop’s last evening, I believe the projects with ambient audio will always steal the show,” he said. “Being accosted by no less than two dozen photographers after the presentations, and told that they wanted to put their still photography work into a multimedia format and start ambient audio recording, not only reaffirmed this belief, but also was personally gratifying.”

Learn more about Tewfic El-Sawy.

Check out The Foundry Photojournalism Workshops.

Read more of El-Sawy’s blog post, the one that tipped us off.

— Interview and story by Laura Read



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