One of the key motives of funerals or memorials is to display and honor the life of a loved one. Though it’s traditional to display a few main photos of your loved one, you can get creative if your mission is to share more. After all, in today’s digital age, it’s likely that you have a large volume of memories you’d love for your guests to see.
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The good news is you can create physical or digital displays of photos rather affordably. And, either medium allows you to run with your creativity. You can easily create displays that will leave a lasting impression on your guests and preserve the memory of your loved one forever.
Below, you’ll find twelve ideas for either physical or digital photo displays that can help you get inspired.
COVID-19 tip: If you're hosting a Zoom funeral using a service like GatheringUs, ask if you can create a digital memorial slideshow or video to share with your virtual guests. You can scan physical photos to add, upload live videos, add songs, and other digital mementos to your slideshow.
Funeral Photo Display Ideas for Physical Photos
Physical photo displays can serve as a lasting memento of your loved one. You also have quite a bit of creative freedom and can choose a non-traditional option. Making something for your guests to remember your loved one may be a fun “thank you” for their care and attendance as well.
As an added touch, you may also choose to customize the memorial service guest book with images of your loved one, too.
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1. Memory board or collage
A classic way to show glimpses of your loved one’s life is with a memory board or memorial collage. Both of these ideas are fairly interchangeable, as you’re free to compile a wide variety of themes, moments, events, and more into one or a few displays.
You can also create either of these affordably from materials from your local craft store in addition to photographs. Keep in mind, however, to not use glue or tape or endanger any original photos or materials.
2. Trading or prayer cards
If your loved one was a sports fan, you can easily commission (or create) your own trading cards of images of them. You can leave them around the service or distribute them to your guests upon entering, and they can trade amongst themselves.
That being said, prayer cards are a more traditional favor for funeral guests. Again, you can run with the same idea and choose a variety of photos of your loved one and print a few different versions with different prayers.
3. Printed desserts
Though a more whimsical idea, printing your loved one’s photos on treats will likely make guests of all ages smile. You can look into bakeries that offer edible printing, or you can even turn it into an art project of your own.
If you’re artistically inclined, feel free to hand-draw images of your loved one with frosting or other ingredients. The results will likely be a bit humorous, but maybe a few sweets and some laughter are just what you and your guests need.
4. T-shirts or hats
As another favor for guests, you may also choose to create T-shirts, hats, or some other memorabilia of your loved one.
You can make the design as tasteful or as out there as you’d like. So, be sure to incorporate as much of the aesthetic or spirit of your loved one as possible.
5. Display or shadow boxes
In addition to physical photos for these displays, you can also get creative with the materials you use, such as “found” objects.
You can incorporate both images and objects in clear displays or shadow boxes and create an exhibit of your loved one’s life. Did your loved one sport a favorite ball cap or hair clip? Incorporating these real, tangible elements will help you and your guests feel that much closer to them.
If you'd like to personalize the project even more, make your own shadow box quickly and simply.
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6. A bouquet or wreath
Rather than arranging your loved one’s photos on a board, you may also choose to incorporate them into a real bouquet or wreath or simply make these structures out of photos alone. Your options aren’t really limited to any particular shape, however.
You can get as elaborate as creating arches or topiaries of photos if you so choose. The point of displaying photos, of course, is to make them within view of your guests, but it may be fun to put them in these unexpected arrangements.
Funeral Photo Display Ideas for Digital Photos
Digital photo displays can be even more cost-effective than physical photo displays if you have access to the right technology. Of course, digital displays may also be a wise option because you can watch them later to remember your loved one. You can even share the accompanying files or assets with your guests so they can keep watching, too.
7. A traditional slideshow
You can easily create a professional-looking funeral slideshow with free software on your computer or smartphone. If you’re not confident in your slideshow skills, you might be able to coordinate with the funeral home and have them create one for you with images you provide.
You should also ensure that you have the right equipment — file types, adapters, projectors, screens, etc. — if you’re putting on this slideshow in a non-traditional setting.
Though you can likely include videos in a slideshow as well, perhaps you’d like to approach your photo display as more of a film project. You can even go all out and create an entire movie about the story of your loved one’s life.
Or, you can show your guests photos and add in small details about your loved one as well as music. Here are some memorial slideshow songs to consider.
9. A drive-in
If you have access to a projector and a large, working screen or accommodating surface, you could easily give your loved one’s memorial the look and feel of a classic drive-in movie. This would likely take some coordination and a bit of tech-savvy.
You should also consider how many guests you’re inviting as well as the ideal location, such as a church parking lot or event space.
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10. An online memorial
Creating an online, even collaborative memorial of your loved one is the perfect way to ensure their memory lasts forever. Having others contribute their own photos and memories can illustrate an even richer portrait of your loved one. Of course, if you wish to serve as a sort of administrator or moderator, that’s more than OK.
You can achieve online memorials in a variety of ways. For example, you can memorialize a Facebook account, as well as maintain other social media accounts from your loved one. You can also go as far as creating your own website or bio page for your loved one, too.
Tip: You can create a free online memorial page with GatheringUs. They also offer virtual funeral planning services, which include tech support, beginning-to-end planning, and event facilitation for online or live streamed funerals.
11. A concert and slideshow
Sharing photos on a slideshow with soft or uplifting music is a fairly common practice at modern funerals. However, if you’d like to take a more celebratory, non-traditional approach, you can consider showing photos of your loved one in the background of live music, a DJ, or even just a playlist.
Of course, it’d be ideal to play artists and musicians that your loved one liked, but it’d be fun to include some other crowd-pleasers as well. How loud your concert can be may also depend on the venue or location that you choose. You may also be interested in how to plan a celebration of life ceremony.
12. A digital timeline
You can easily create an interactive timeline or similar presentation out of your loved one’s photos. You can then share this link or file with guests and go through it together at a reception. This gives you the option of including captions and fun details as well as flexing some organizational savvy.
It will also likely become a cherished memento you’ll enjoy looking back on for years to come. It’s truly special to create something that highlights the entire history of a seemingly “ordinary” person. By consulting friends and family members for input, you’ll discover they were pretty extraordinary, after all.
Highlight What Matters
Photos are the perfect way to show off just how beautiful, loving, charismatic, funny — all of the wonderful things your loved one was. You shouldn’t fret as much about showing off every single photo of your loved one in existence, or even the highest-quality images.
Sometimes, the most important moments were seemingly minor moments at the time they were captured. For more advice on end-of-life planning or about planning memorial services, check out the rest of Cake.