Bringing Your Story to Life

Photo Story 3 for Windows is a free, easy to use and intuitive software application that has been noted to portray images in a “Ken Burns-like effect” (meaning that it pans and zooms over still images).

In addition to the pan and zoom effect of your images, Photo Story 3 offers
  • voice narration
  • basic photo editing
  • customization and transition effects
  • background music
  • a storyboard like interface
It is with the combination of your story planning, collection of media, and use of the tools Photo Story 3 that you will begin to see your digital story finally spring to life!

Opening Photo Story 3

  1. Double click the Photo Story 3 icon on your desktop.
  2. Select Begin a new story’. Click the ‘Next’ button.

Import and arrange your pictures

  1. Click the ‘Import Pictures’ button and navigate to the folder the computer where your images are stored (it should be on your flash drive).

Hint: To import more than one picture at a time, hold down the ‘Ctrl’ key when selecting an image. Do this for         all the images you wish to import, and then click ‘OK’.
  1. You should now see all of your images in your storyboard. To arrange your pictures:  hold the left-mouse button to drag and drop the image in the desired position.  The images should be arranged in order according to the hard copy of your storyboard.  

Hint: Some of images may now have black borders.  Select the ‘Remove black border’ link if you desire.  This page also provides the user with some minor photo editing by selecting the ‘Edit’ button underneath the image.
  1. When you have finished arranging and editing (if any) your pictures, click the Next’ button.

Add a title to your pictures

Personally, I do not recommend adding text over images in Photo Story 3.  The text often comes out blurry and pixilated when viewing your story and the options for placement of the text is very limited.

If you would like to add text to an image, I suggest using MS Power Point.  Power Point offers the option of saving slides as JPEG files (which is what most photo files are).

Converting a PowerPoint Slide to a JPEG file

  1. Create a slide in Power Point as you normally would. The example below was created by adding a picture file for the background, then adding words into the text box.

  2. When you have finished adding text to your images, click the ‘Office’ icon in your upper left hand corner.

  3. Highlight ‘Save As’ and then select ‘Other Formats’
  4. Scroll down the ‘Save as Type’ option until you see the JPEG file format. Select the JPEG option and then click ‘Save’.

    1. Click the ‘Every Slide’ button.

Your image will now be saved in its own folder.  The image with added text is now ready for import into Photo Story 3

This is a great time to start saving all of your hard work.  Click the ‘Save Project’ button toward the bottom of the Photo Story screen.  Navigate to your flash drive location and click the ‘Save’ button.  

To continue saving after you make changes click the save project button and it will automatically save to your flash drive. Remember to save often!

Narrate your pictures and preview your story

It is now time to add your voice to the story. Narration can only be added to individual images.  Take a minute to look over the hard copy of your storyboard and rehearse (quietly) the narrations for individual slides that you have written.  

Since we will be working in a room with others, you will record your final narrations in a separate setting.  Notify one of the instructors when you are ready.

Test record at your work station by following the steps below.  (contact me to checkout mics if needed)

  1. Select the image you wish to record sound for.
  2. Click on the red record button.
  3. Record your narration. Click on the Stop button.
  4. Listen to your recording by clicking the Preview button. It will preview the slide you just recorded. To preview your whole story, start with the beginning image.
  5. If you need to redo a narration click the ‘delete narration’ button.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 as necessary per image.

Customizing Motion

You might notice when previewing that Photo Story’s auto pan and zoom is not exactly what you had in mind.  The Customize Motion option allows for you to manually select a start and position as well as set time duration for each slide.
  1. Select the image you wish to customize.
  2. Click the Customize Motion button under the preview image.

You will see two tabs when the new window opens, Motion and Duration and Transition.  


Check the box labeled ‘Specify start and end position of motion’. You will see a set of points appear around the Start and End images.  Left click and drag each point to determine where you want your focal points.

Hint: The image above starts with on just a few kites and then zooms out to display the entire image.  You can select the ‘Preview’ button at any time to see what your customization looks like.

Other customization options:
Set start position to be the same as end position of previous picture allows for a smoother transition between slides.  
Set end position to be the same as start position creates a still image with no pan or zoom effect.


Photo Story automatically adjusts the time duration of each slide based on its        customization.  Click the Number of seconds to display the picture button to increase or decrease the slide duration.

Hint:  Clicking on the ‘Save’ button in this window only saves the adjustments you have made to the image, NOT the entire project.  Use the arrow buttons to move to the next image that you would like to customize.


You can change the transitions between each slide by clicking on the Transitions   tab. I caution you to use transitions sparingly.  Too much movement can take from the impact of the story you are trying to tell your audience.  

Test out what other transitions look like by clicking on the icons.  A quick transition preview will show in the middle image.

Add background music

You can add different selections of music to your project slides but, in my experience in working with Photo Story, using one piece of music yields a higher quality video.   Please choose one music selection for the background music to your story.


Select Music allows you to upload any song in MP3 format
Create Music button enables you to create your own mix/match of music within the Photo Story application.  It offers selections by genre.  Great for catering to the feel of your story.
  1. Make sure that the first image in your storyboard is highlighted. Select your music.
  2. Your selection will show up on your storyboard above the images.
  3. Since there is also voice narration in your story, keep the volume level of the music as low as possible.
  4. Click the Preview button to check your audio levels and tempo of the story.

Save Your Story

By now you have imported and arranged your images, added text to any desired, added voice-overs, customized motion and selected your music.  You are ready to produce the final story! This is different than from what we have been doing which was saving it as a project.  When we save it as a story, it produces the story in a format for watching them full screen on our computers.

Select the option ‘Save your story for playback on your computer’
  1. Click on the Browse… button and navigate to the location on the computer where you would like the story saved. (More than likely your flash drive or a CD).
  2. Click the Next button.
  3. Photo Story will now build your story.
CONGRATULATIONS! You now have your very own digital story!