There’s no doubt that a memorial photo slideshow is a regular part of most funerals these days. For some families, going through the photos and picking out your favourites is a wonderful experience, either in the weeks before an anticipated death, or in the days after the death. For others, it can be stressful or overwhelming.

Of course, you don’t have to have a photo slideshow. You don’t even have to have photos.  If a photo slideshow will make the funeral meaningful to you and finding just the right photos to share photos with your friends and family is important for you, here are some tips.

Decide what you’d like to show

Two to three minutes (or the length of your person’s favourite song, perhaps?) is a good length for a slideshow, so if you allow six seconds per ‘slide’, that’s only 20 – 30 photos (at one photo per slide). 

Do you want to show the progression of your person over their life, from when they were a baby? 

Would you like to make sure the people attending the funeral are represented in the photos? 

Is it about big life moments (graduations, weddings, children, awards, etc)? 

Having a bit of a plan helps make the following steps much easier to achieve. Generally, people are delighted to see a baby photo, a good family photo and a photo of your person wearing clothes from an era that fashion forgot.

Assign a chief photo wrangler

This is an excellent task to delegate, particularly in this age of online photo storage. In particular, younger family members or family friends may be keen to contribute in this way and have the skill set to do it. They can collect the photos, get them into the slideshow and sort out the music. All you have to do is take the USB drive or link to the file when they’re done!

Pick an online photo repository

An easy way for family and friends to get their photos to you is by adding them to a shared online album. This avoids having to sift through your inbox to find attached photo files. If you have a mobile phone, you may already have an online photo album. Once you’ve created the album, you can share the link to invite family and friends to add their photos. 

Here are three common platforms for sharing photos:

  • Google Photo (note the options for Android, computer and iPhone/iPad users at the top)
  • iPhoto (but be warned, if you want non-Apple users to contribute photos, they will need to create both an AppleID and download software onto a Windows computer)
  • Dropbox (although as it was designed for general files, not just photos, it doesn’t have the same photo-specific features as the others)

Collect the photos

Some of us have every photo neatly organised and labelled. Most of us don’t!  However, there are easy ways to get printed photos into digital format and then find the ones you want quickly. 

Convert printed photos to digital

If your photos are in old-school photo albums, chances are they might be very hard to remove from the album without damaging them. Fortunately, you can use your phone to scan the photos directly from the album. This might not be archive-quality scanning, but it certainly does a good job for this purpose. We recommend downloading a specific photo-scanning app like PhotoScan. These take multiple pictures of the same photo and then stitch the images together to even out the scan. They also remove annoying bright spots from the lighting in the room. 

Use face-searching

If your photos are in Google Photo or iPhoto, you can use their face-search technology to quickly pull up all the photos of your person or other important people for the slideshow. This technology can identify the same person from when they were a baby through to someone in their nineties with incredible accuracy. Then simply mark the photos you like as favourites.

Create the slideshow

There is the easy way and the fancy way to do this.  Don’t put pressure on yourself to create something ‘amazing’ if you don’t feel like you have the time or bandwidth to do it. The people at the funeral will remember the photos and how the photos make them feel, not whether you were a rockstar with animated transitions and fancy effects.

The Easy Way

Cloud photo apps usually have a way to export your slideshows as a video. Google Photos slideshow export and iPhotos slideshow export both do this quickly and easily and give you the option to add music. You won’t be able to add text or have more than one photo on the screen at a time.

The Fancy Way

If you want to add captions, or have more than one photo on the screen at a time, then you’ll need to do a bit of design work. Fortunately, this is easier than ever with online tools like Canva or Powerpoint (if you like your applications to be on your desktop).

Save the slideshow

Whatever you do, make sure you save it in a usable format for the funeral. If you’re doing everything yourself at home, you may be able to cast it from your device to your TV. If the funeral is at another venue, the technician will almost certainly want you to give it to them on a USB stick. Make sure you test it by opening the file on another device before the day. It never hurts to have it ready to email to the venue as well, just in case.

Finally, don’t forget, you can always create a slideshow after the funeral. That may be a really lovely thing to spend time on at your own pace. And it’s easy to send copies to friends and family who might enjoy remembering your person that way as well.

The key takeaways are:
  • Delegate if you can
  • Simple is often the best
  • Technology can save you a lot of time and effort
  • Save it as a video file