Slideshows are an engaging way to share memories about the deceased at a funeral. In our digital world, it’s easier than ever to create a slideshow in someone’s honor. As funeral planning becomes more complex, more and more families are choosing to create a funeral slideshow with music in honor of their loved ones.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Step 1: Decide on the Type of Slideshow
- Step 2: Decide If You Want to Do It Yourself or Hire a Service
- Step 3: Collect Photos and Memories
- Step 4: Scan and Digitize
- Step 5: Choose Your Soundtrack
- Step 6: Create Your Slideshow
- Step 7: Test Your Slideshow
- Funeral Slideshows: Frequently Asked Questions
However, since emotions are high after losing a loved one, you want to simplify this process as much as possible. Your slideshow is an act of love, and it’s a memento your family can hold onto for generations to come. You don’t need any tech skills or artistic experience to get started. All you need is a computer, some photos, and a bit of patience.
Here’s how to make a funeral slideshow with music step-by-step.
Tip: Creating a funeral slideshow is just one task you might be undertaking for the first time after losing a loved one. For help with everything else and a guide throughout the process, check out our post-loss checklist.
Step 1: Decide on the Type of Slideshow
Before you begin, think about the type of slideshow you want at the funeral for your loved one. There are primarily three types to consider:
- Ongoing presentation - An ongoing presentation is set up on the side of the service, constantly streaming through photos of someone’s life. These might include light music, but it’s not necessary. They’re intended as a way to focus the attention on the life of the deceased, but someone else (like a priest) delivers the service nearby.
- Feature presentation - Another option is to make a small show out of the slideshow itself. These presentations are typically between two and five minutes, and they’ll include a variety of photos moving at a fast pace. These memorial slideshows have louder music instead of a speaker.
There’s no “right” choice. Consider the type of service you have, and whether you’ll include the slideshow as part of this service. If the service is strictly religious, you might choose to have the slideshow at the repast or at a family member’s home after the formal affair.
Step 2: Decide If You Want to Do It Yourself or Hire a Service
Once you decide on the type of slideshow you'd like, ask yourself about your time constraints, tech savvy-ness, and if you're planning a virtual funeral service along with an in-person event.
If you have time and the tech available to you and you're only planning an in-person event, it might make sense to do it yourself. You'll be responsible for the creation of the slideshow, music selection, and setting up the slideshow at the service or reception.
Funeral planners with less time, more tech constraints, and are planning a livestream or virtual event might consider using a virtual funeral planning service, such as GatheringUs. Most services will take your photos and playlist, create a professional-looking slideshow, and be responsible for day-of-funeral set-up, among other services included in their planning package.
Step 3: Collect Photos and Memories
Next, it’s time to collect your photos and memories in honor of your loved one. You don’t have to handle this process alone. Many include other relatives, friends, and family of the deceased. Sending an email or social media message to your guestlist asking for photos is a great way to get others involved.
A funeral slideshow is usually a trip down memory lane. It starts with photos of the deceased as a child and continues throughout his or her life, stopping on important things along the way. The funeral slideshows might also include photos of mementos, like letters from loved ones, a favorite religious passage, or flowers from a wedding bouquet. Here are more ideas:
- Baby photos
- Photos from school (early through college)
- Important dates like graduation, first child, etc.
- Vacation photos
- Family photos
- Wedding photos
- Love or friendship letters
- Special poems or literature
- A favorite religious passage
Get a bit creative with your photo collection process. This is a time to really uncover what it was about this person that made them special. Become the storyteller for their life story. This is how you keep their legacy living on.
Step 4: Scan and Digitize
If you’re wading through old photos from friends and family, odds are many of them are physical copies. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to digitize photos. There are apps for digitizing them on your phone, or you can use a physical scanner.
Either way, it shouldn’t take more than a few hours, depending on how many photos you have. Recruit the help of friends and family if needed!
Once you’ve digitized your photos, keep them organized. Made a digital photo album to keep your images safe. You can do this with a cloud storage tool like Google Drive or Dropbox, or you can use your local hard drive on your computer.
It’s recommended to use a cloud storage option since not only is this more secure, but they’re easy to share. That means you can easily share access to your entire family, and they can add photos of your loved one as well. This simplifies the process for everyone.
Last but not least, don’t forget about social media. If your loved one was active on social media, there might be memories on there that you want to save. You might need to transfer Snapchat memories to your computer or download photos from Facebook.
Step 5: Choose Your Soundtrack
Next, it’s time to pick your song. Even if you’re not playing the slideshow as a presentation, it’s still important to have music. This is yet another way to share something unique about your loved one. If you end up using a tool to create your slideshow, they might have preset options to choose from. Otherwise, here are a few ideas that keep your relative in mind:
- A favorite song
- A couple’s wedding song
- The theme song from a favorite show
- Religious music
- Modern funeral songs
- Classical music
If the slideshow is long, you might need more than one song. Don’t feel like you need to stick to a single genre. You can always switch songs between photos to match the theme. Getting creative helps really tell a powerful story.
Step 6: Create Your Slideshow
Now it’s time to start creating. Here’s where you have to get a bit more technical. Don’t worry, this still is a simple process. No matter your comfort level with computers and design, there’s an option for you. Odds are you already have a video editor on your computer (like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker).
If you don’t have those preset options, you can always keep it simple by creating a PowerPoint presentation. You can use Microsoft Powerpoint or even Google Slides online for free. These are great, simple tools. Adding photos is as simple as uploading them to your individual slides.
However, there are a number of programs and digital tools that can make your slideshow for free (or a low cost). This is a better option if you’re unsure how to get started or if you’re short on time. These programs are available on your smartphone or tablet as well for on-the-go creating.
Step 7: Test Your Slideshow
Last but not least, test your slideshow before the funeral. You never want to experience a technical issue or a misspelling, not when this slideshow is so important. Share it with a few loved ones to see their reaction for yourself. Is there anything you need to change or update?
Depending on the program you used, you might be able to automate the playing of the video or slideshow. Otherwise, be prepared to start the show during the funeral service. Talk to the funeral host or director about the integration of your slideshow into the memorial.
If you need any technical equipment, make sure you test this as well. A frustrating error could get in the way of the smoothness of the service. When in doubt, over-prepare.
Funeral Slideshows: Frequently Asked Questions
Because modern funeral slideshows are a relatively new concept, there are still a lot of questions about how they work. Let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
How long should a funeral slideshow be?
There are no specific guidelines for how long or short a funeral slideshow should be. Most are between two and five minutes, though they could certainly be longer or shorter. When in doubt, talk to the funeral home or whoever is in charge of the ceremony.
How do you turn a slideshow into a DVD?
If you have an existing slideshow on your computer, but you want to burn it to a DVD, you can easily do this with most editing programs. Both iMovie and Windows Movie Maker have a burn to DVD tool, and other film editing programs do as well.
If you created your slideshow online or on PowerPoint, you’ll need to save your recording to your computer. From there, review your operating system’s guide for the best way to burn your video to a DVD.
How many pictures should you use?
Again, there is no straightforward answer for how many photos you need for your funeral slideshow. However, you don’t want to rush through photos too quickly or too slowly. Each photo should be shown anywhere between three to five seconds. This means you’ll need around 12 photos per minute of slideshow.
If you have a 3-minute slideshow planned, aim to have around 35 - 40 photos. It’s always better to find more photos than you need. This way, you’re able to choose from the best of the best to curate a life story. While not the end of the world, you want to avoid using blurry or aged photos.
Preparing a Funeral Slideshow
Having a photo slideshow at a funeral is a great way to honor the deceased. Not only is it an effective healing tool by showing just how great someone’s life was, but it’s also a way to bring the family together over shared memories. It’s hard to put into words just how impactful someone’s life was, no matter how limited. A picture really is worth a thousand words in these situations.
When putting together a funeral slideshow for a loved one, give close thought to how they impacted you. This is a part of their legacy. It’s something your family will cherish for years to come. What story do you want to tell?