Choosing Photos for an Order of Service by Suzie White

We are delighted to bring you this Guest Blog by Suzie White of Suzie White Stationery, with helpful tips for choosing photos for an Order of Service.

How to choose photos for an Order of Service

Putting together an Order of Service booklet for a funeral can feel like a hugely overwhelming task. Whilst the celebrant or minister will help you piece together the service itself, the photographs are really something that only you can choose… but how do you possibly narrow down a lifetime of memories into the number of photographs that will fit inside a booklet? It’s a good question and no surprise that it’s one of the most common things I am asked.

Many families do tell me how much they enjoy this part of the process, reminiscing over happy and funny memories as they browse, and many choose designs that allow them to include a large number of photos. However, other families find this emotionally very difficult, or simply too overwhelming. If this is you then you may find it easiest to opt for a small photo count and select just some very specific favourites – for example ones you have on display in your home in frames or ones you know your loved one especially liked, or read on for my simple “Formula of Four”.

Regardless of how many photos you include, I recommend choosing contrasting pictures that allow the Order of Service to celebrate the breadth and impact of your loved one’s life.

My “Formula of Four”

Something I’d highly recommend for choosing photos is my “Formula of Four” – this gives variety, whilst keeping it simple:

  • one recent (usually for the front cover)
  • one from their childhood or youth (usually front inside cover)
  • one with people closest to them (usually back inside cover)
  • one either funny or particularly touching one (usually for the back cover)

For a larger photo count, here are some more ideas to give great variety and to show a well-rounded story of your person’s life.

Types of photos that work really well:

  • a wide range of ages or stages of their life
  • a mix of photos of them by themselves as well as with people who were special to them
  • enjoying hobbies
  • in uniform for, or photographed doing, a job/career/voluntary work that they loved or were proud of
  • particular achievements – for example sporting or academic successes
  • milestones such as their wedding day or holding their newborn child or grandchild
  • special pets
  • holiday photos from special trips
  • pictures that reflect particular aspects of their personality – “that’s just so him/her”
  • your own particular favourites

You will no doubt still have far more lovely photos than there will be space for in the booklet. How do you narrow them down and choose photos for an Order of Service that your loved one would be proud of?

The selection process – my tips:

  • Don’t do it on your own – having a friend or family member to help means that you can enjoy reminiscing together as you come across the lovely memories the photos reignite.
  • Take a first look through the photos and keep aside/earmark all those that you’d like to include – don’t hold back, it doesn’t matter at this stage if there are far more than you plan to actually use.
  • Group them into themes of similar ones together.
  • Taking a theme at a time, whittle them down to your favourite couple/few for each.
  • Pull them all together so that you can see the shortlisted selection as a whole.
  • Reduce it again until you are left with a final set that compliment each other and truly reflect your loved one.
  • If you’re stuck – good Order of Service designers will be happy to guide you. I welcome my families to send me around 25% more photographs than there will ultimately be space for. This enables me to select pictures which best fit the spaces available and that work together beautifully in harmony, and which from an ‘outside’ perspective show a broad and balanced variety.
  • If you’re sending extra, do always let your designer know if there are any firm favourites that you particularly want to be included or any that you want to be positioned in specific places within the Order of Service booklet.

Most importantly though, follow your heart! This isn’t science so regardless of contrasts, themes and a selection process, make your final choice based on the ones you feel are right.

Hard-copy photos

When you choose photos for an Order of Service, many people ask what to do with older pictures that they only have in hard copy. The simple answer is that thanks to the availability of a good camera on almost every smart phone, many people choose instead to take a photograph of the photograph. Here are my top tips for doing this to get best results.

Other questions that are frequently asked…

What happens if my photos are damaged?

Don’t worry! Many families like the patina of the creases, rips and stains that well-loved photos pick up over the years, but if you’d like these removing, your Order of Service designer should be able to help with this. Just let them know what you’d like solving and they’ll get busy in Photoshop to do their very best. I love helping clients do things like this and include touch-ups as standard in all of my pricing. Not everything can be fixed, but I’ll always try!

What happens if my favourites are low quality?

Again – don’t worry! The people at the service are there because they loved your person. When they look at that photo, their thoughts will be “Isn’t that a lovely photo of…” and the happy memories it creates. No-one will be thinking “Oh crumbs, the resolution on that isn’t great, is it?”! If it’s a special photo, I always urge families not to disregard it on the basis of quality.

In summary

Many families comment afterwards how much they have enjoyed the selection process to choose photos; looking back through the images and reminiscing about the different occasions, stories and memories they bring. This isn’t the case for everyone, and if so, keep it simple by thinking “Formula of Four”. Regardless of how you find the process though, the outcome is always a beautiful document to be loved by all those who attend – it allows family and friends to look back at some of these defining moments of such a special life and share stories and memories with laughs and smiles, and then take them them away and treasure.

Regardless of who you use for your Order of Service, if you’d like any more guidance you are always welcome to give me a call – I’m here to help. Please visit my website for my contact details, or find me on social media. I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you Suzie for this really interesting and informative blog.

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