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How to Choose a Photo for a Funeral or Memorial Service

August 15, 2023

How blessed we are to have photos of our loved ones. As we scroll through pictures on our phones, computers, cameras, and scrapbooks, precious memories come to mind. And choosing one, or a few, photos from our collections for a funeral or memorial service can be a bit overwhelming.

One main photo, supplemented with one or more smaller photos, will be needed for the funeral folder that will be given to each attendee. Customarily, loved ones also like to create a display of photos and scrapbooks, either on easels or spread out on tables. In addition, some families like to have a large photo on an easel displayed at the funeral home, church, or other venue.

You may ask, how do we choose a handful out of so many photos taken over so many years? We would like to share some ideas that we hope will help you decide and have peace about your decision.

How would your loved one like to be remembered?

If you had time to discuss the photos needed for the funeral with your loved one, the arrangements after they pass will be so much easier. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of pre-planning. However, if you were not able to have that conversation, it will take a little more effort, but you can do this!

Grab a piece of paper and a pencil to create a list of ideas:

  • What three words would best describe your loved one?Examples: kind, funny, sacrificial, inquisitive


  • When your loved one greeted you and other people, what did they usually say and do?Examples: smile, hug, a signature comment


  • Where did your loved one like to be the most?Examples: home, with grandkids, golfing, church, on a road trip


  • What would you say are three ways that your loved one impacted the world?Examples: mentored young people/tomorrow’s leaders, encouraged the neighborhood with kind words and cookies, donated to good causes, loved their family


  • Who and what did they love most (top 3-5)?Examples: spouse, kids, grandkids … home, office, motorcycle, boat, ice cream

You have just created a terrific snapshot view of what made your loved one so special and unique. You are now better prepared to choose a photo, or a few photos, that best expresses visually the wonderful person you will be honoring and remembering.

Here are a few more examples:

  • Delores was known for her baking. And on the front of her funeral folder was a beautiful photo of her happily holding up two cookies she had baked. Her smile in the photo is warm and happy because she was doing what she enjoyed doing for her loved ones. Photos when she was younger were displayed inside the folder, and on the back were four photos with her husband, children, and grandchildren.
  • Kim was a young mother who died after a courageous fight with cancer. Her husband chose to display very large professional photos of Kim at the funeral. The photos showed Kim’s brilliant smile, and the size of the photos almost felt life-like, as though she were still with us.
  • Jerry loved to fish! So, the photo on the front of his funeral folder shows him proudly holding up a prized catch. The framed photo by his casket was also of him fishing. Jerry’s quirky smile and the overflowing happiness expressed in the photo helped lighten the grief felt by all who missed him.

Does quality count?

Some people want to share only professional photos of their loved ones. While other families are content to share snapshots of random, sweet moments taken by cameras or phones. Whatever photos you choose, you will want to make sure they are clear and not grainy or distorted. Consider that some older attendees may struggle with vision. And, there should be a standard of presentation that will honor your loved one.

We hope that these ideas will help you plan and prepare for your loved one’s funeral or memorial service. If you have any questions or would like to check out other articles, please visit Keohane Funeral Homes online at or call us anytime at 617-773-3551.


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