Slide shows, long the medium of tiresome friends and relatives, are reinvigorated in the hands of Peter Guttman. A renowned travel photographer, spokesman for Kodak, and creator of a book series for Fodor's, Guttman has transformed the slide show into a "geographically encyclopedic, visually kaleidoscopic, whirlwind trip around the earth," he says.
When he presents to groups, Guttman powers through 500 or more slides in under an hour, providing rapid-fire commentary to accompany the dizzying and exhilarating on-screen feast for the eyes. The idea is to get the audience motivated to go out and discover the world, and the key, he says, is the speed of the show: "It helps that you're not lingering over images." He brings to groups the unbridled enthusiasm of someone who loves to explore and wants to explain how anyone can get out in the world and try something new.
"I first got my speaking skills honed as a tour guide on a bus," says Guttman of his entrée into the speaking world. Beginning in 1977, Guttman spent 10 years handling narration and entertainment for packaged multiday bus trips that explored various parts of the United States. He began speaking to larger groups in 1987, around the time that his annual living-room slide show of travel photos for friends exploded into a wildly popular Manhattan arts event.
To date, Guttman has visited 195 countries. He is nearly at a loss to choose favorites, but eventually admits to a few: Antarctica for its birding and Papua New Guinea for its culture, but also houseboating on Lake Powell in Utah and Arizona. "You don't have to live like Indiana Jones to have great experiences," he says. So, where to next? Yemen—but not for a while. "Currently, the beheading situation is not exactly conducive to travel planning," Guttman says with a wry smile.
Past audiences have included Prudential, Deloitte & Touche, college groups, and the Audubon Society. In addition to his primary presentation, which evolves as his travels continue and ends with a Q&A session, Guttman offers a talk that is more oriented toward the how-tos of photography. It explains "how to transform your way of seeing the world," he says, and offers behind-the-scenes tips, tricks, and techniques. There are fewer images involved, with more time spent explaining how the photographs were taken.