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I guess the simplest explanation is that the aspect ratio of the photos — the relationship between height and width is different than that of your video. Standard definition video has an aspect ratio of 4:3, almost square. HD is 16:9. If you take a still picture with the camera on it side, for example, the picture may be four or five times higher than it is wide. When you bring this onto your timeline you’ll get black on both sides of the picture; there’s no image there, only blank space, with the tall skinny photo in the middle.
I can’t speak for anyother NLE, but Sony Vegas allows you to bring the still into the pan/crop utility, right click on the image and select “Match Output Ratio.” This will widen and/or heighten the still image to fill up the frame, of course at the cost of some of the still image, which will be cropped out of frame.
Another way to accomplish this would be simply bring the photo into the pan/crop utility of any NLE and adjust it to fill the frame.
One way to deal with this aesthetically is to frankly acknowledge that you’re dealing with photos. In other words, create a background color that compliments the photo (rather than the black background you’re seeing now) and crop the photo so that it looks like a picture mounted on a colored background. This is often done when make a photo montage from oddly sized photographs.