1. Keep in mind that a montage should generally not be more than 12 minutes in length and should be at least 9 minutes. To that end, you should ultimately shoot for about 150 photos.
2. Select about 200 or so photos in the first pass. You will narrow them down later.
3. Flip through old photo albums to find older photos from babyhood, etc. Pull the best ones and put them aside to scan or if there are many, to send out to a scanning service.
4. Go through iPhoto or whatever you use on your computer to organize photos. Select favorites and put them in one folder.
5. Be especially on the lookout for photos that show the guest of honor (a) in a variety of settings over time, (b) with his or her closest friends and special family members, (c) doing various activities, (d) as a baby and toddler, and (e) recently/currently.
6. Decide how to organize the montage. See below for examples of segment themes. Once you have selected the themes (generally about 4-5 or so), begin to organize the photos into computer file folders for various themes.
7. Once organized, see if there are too many photos or not enough for a given segment (divide the number of photos you have selected by the number of segments--generally each segment should be about the same length of time). Begin to narrow down (or if not enough consider searching for more photos that fit your themes or use video clips).
8. Look through old video footage for clips that fit your themes. 1-3 brief clips (approx. 4-15 seconds each) per segment work well. Organize your clips by theme and insert into the relevant computer file folders.
9. If you are using Mon-tage-ical, LLC to create the actual montage, upload your organized computer file folders to a free cloud based service such as Google Drive to allow for easy sharing and transfer of the organized media. You will have more personalized/individualized guidance throughout the process.
Example of Segment Themes
Through the Years—This is great for showing the guest of honor “growing up” in a meaningful and entertaining way. Some examples of “through the years” themes would be activities, birthday parties, Halloween costumes, family traditions like holidays, vacations, lifelong friendships, etc. Sometimes it can be used to close out the entire montage. Special effects can be used, including speeding up/slowing down the length of the slide as well as cool transitions.
Baby—One way to organize a montage is by starting at the very beginning, with babyhood and all of the photos are of the guest of honor as a baby, infant or toddler. You can show the guest of honor with a lot of special family members and include video clips of milestone events such as a baby naming, bris, or christening.
Siblings—When a guest of honor has one or more siblings, it can be fun to show him or her in context of an expanding family and devote an entire segment to that. This is a great time to show touching and amusing photos & clips that show the special relationship between the siblings.
Friends and Family—An entire segment can be devoted to pictures and clips of the guest of honor with his or her closest friends. Try to mix group pictures with photos of just the guest of honor and a special friend. If the guest of honor has a lot of friends and a lot of special family members, it might make sense to do two separate segments for each. Otherwise, a more general segment, interspersing friends and family (including cousins) could work well.
New Video Footage—It is possible to make a segment out of, or to simply sprinkle throughout, video footage that is captured solely for use in the montage. For example, interview special family members or friends and ask them the same or different questions about the guest of honor. Use highlights from the footage. Another possibility is asking a former favorite teacher or famous person to wish the guest of honor “mazel tov” or some other brief message. If you have iMovie or plan to use Mon-tage-ical, LLC to do your montage, film or photograph the subject in front of a green or blue screen (try buying a big piece of green cloth from a fabric store and taping it to the wall to do it on the cheap) to allow for insertion into a multitude of backgrounds. The possibilities are endless when using new footage. Be creative!
Achievements—If the guest of honor is especially accomplished in one thing, like a sport or other activity, an entire segment can be devoted to his/her achievements. Photos, video clips of the guest of honor in action, pictures of awards or medals, etc., close-ups of programs or newspaper articles, can all be featured. Try interviewing the guest of honor’s coach!
Activities/Hobbies—If the guest of honor is more of a “renaissance” type and likes doing a lot of different things, an entire segment can be devoted to photos and clips of his or her various pursuits.
Traditions—Family traditions can be shown in “through the years” fashion, but sometimes it makes more sense to have a segment devoted to various traditions, including birthday celebrations, holidays—religious and secular, seasonal activities or outings, etc.