Photo boards are a meaningful way to celebrate someone's life at a funeral. Use these helpful tips to create beautiful photo boards.
Recently my family and I helped my Aunt Sandy create photo boards for my Uncle Jim's funeral. He passed away after a courageous battle against leukemia. He and Aunt Sandy have lived in Madison, Wisconsin my whole life, and I spent a lot of time with them growing up and while I was in college. He was known for his gentle spirit, impeccable style and savvy business sense (he founded a bank nearly 25 years ago). While the family took care of the funeral plan and all the other arrangements, aunt and I were reminiscing looking at the photos.
My aunt wanted to create 10 photo boards capturing relationships and memories from his nearly 80 years here on earth. I spent two days helping her with them and took some photos of the process.
Photo boards are an important component to any funeral, but also can be a wonderful addition to a birthday party, graduation, retirement celebration, etc.
Preparing the boards for photos
Some funeral homes will provide boards to use for photos. If you are making your own boards, cover foam core with fabric. Select a plain fabric or one with a small pattern, so that the fabric will enhance the photos and not detract from them. The fabric will hold easily with clear packing tape. The photos can then be attached with thumb tacks.
Be sure to verify with the funeral home how many easels they have available. You don't want to prepare many boards, only to find that they can't be displayed well.
Assembling the photo boards
Theme: Determine the themes you would like for the boards ahead of putting them together. This will help you sort photos and determine if you need more boards. For instance, we knew we wanted to do a friends board, but after pulling all the photos, we ended up with two boards dedicated to friendship.
Title: Print titles for the boards so that people know what they are looking at. Individual captions are not necessary, but can add context. Some of the titles we used included Young Jim, Our Jim, Friends, Golf and Cars, Jim and Sandy and Family.
Photos: When selecting photos, remember that every photo of your loved one does not need to be on the boards. Instead, choose photos that capture your loved one's story and spirit – photos of them growing up, with family, friends and co-workers. Also include special vacations and hobbies.
For the Funeral Home
Arrangement: Consider the order you would like the boards to be displayed. Do you want certain boards near other items? Do you want them to go chronologically? By deciding this in advance, you won't have to worry about it on the day of the funeral. We had this canvas made at at local Walgreens and had it displayed next to the board of my Aunt and Uncle together, along with their wedding album. (If you have time, I recommend ordering photo canvases from Easy Canvas Prints. They always have great sales and are beautiful quality.)
Transportation: It is a good idea to slip the boards in large trash bags so that they don't get damaged in transport. It also will prevent them from being impacted by any possible weather elements, like wind or rain.
Celebrating Your Loved One
Though it might feel overwhelming to go through photos and assemble photo boards, these displays are worth the effort. They are appreciated by those who attend the funeral and are great conversation starters. Photo boards are a wonderful tribute to a love one at a funeral.
If you are planning a funeral and need to prepare a eulogy, you might find this eulogy helpful, which I wrote for my grandma. I also had the honor of writing the eulogy for my Nana's funeral in 2011. You may read that here.
You might also want to make a photo book remembering your loved one. Check out these 5 tips for making a photo book fast.
Books on Grief to Read After You Have Lost Someone
I found that grief is a complicated and books can provide much comfort during times of sorrow. I recommend the following books.
Grief books for Adults
More Beautiful than Before: How Suffering Transforms Us
Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved
Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief
When we three kids gathered to prepare our mom’s photo boards, it was a wonderful experience. Such a great addition to coming together to honor her and her life.
I am so glad it was a positive experience. The same was true for my family. xo
What are the dimensions of the boards you used, and also the thickness?
They were just standard foam core boards.
Marti Bowland says
I put together my father-in-laws photo board for his funeral and it was well received and an honor to create. Later we took some of his ashes to his childhood home in Nebraska where he was buried in the family area. His sisters and brother held another memorial and again the photo board was displayed. They loved it so much! They asked if I would leave it with them in Nebraska to comfort them. What a gift they can be. This week I am creating my own photo board for my retirement celebration. It has been fun to rediscover photos from my college years and early careers and put captions on them to give them context. The fashions and hairstyles alone will generate much conversation!
Linda Phillips says
What do you use to attach pictures to the board? Glue,pins,thumbtacks,tape?
You could use any of those!
Thank you…my 37 yr old stepson was hit head on 6 days ago & did not survive.. .he had 3 girls under 10 & a 4 month old son & his wife… as we scramble to gather photos, it’s brought much comfort to remember beautiful memories.. and to provide “stories” for his children to have in years to come. I needed a direction. Yours was wonderful! Thank you for sharing!! ❤️
Kathy, I am so deeply sorry for your loss. I’m glad this post was able to help in some small way. Peace be with you in the days ahead.
Thank you for the great ideas. I lost my son June 30,2020 to addiction. He leaves behind two beautiful daughters 12 and 10. This will be a great keepsake for them after the service.
Can foam boards go in frames? My dad passed in July so I’m making the collage for his service at the end of the month I have about 50 photos
Yes, I am sure you could find frames that would work!
Hello, the phot displays were beautiful!
Could you tell me where I could purchase the black easels? They appear to be more sturdy than others. Thank you.
They were provided by the funeral home.
Dee Van Ess says
Photo boards make every graduation party look like a funeral.