Jenna Caplette
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My father died in April. Because I work for a photography store, I took on creating his photo memorial. Well, actually, I took it on because I wanted to spend time sorting through images and memories, though emotionally I can only handle a bit at a time. I have a lot of images to sort: I’m 63. My Dad was 97. 

One of the first steps for me was to refresh my memory of what to consider in creating a memorial slide show and book. Here’s some tips shared by a colleague who has a lot of experience in creating memorials. 

To create visual memorials, choose a variety of images including wide shots and close ups. As you make selections, remember it's easier to watch a show or look at a book when the subjects aren’t always facing the same direction (i.e. some photos have the subject looking left to right and others are right to left.) Keep this in mind when you put the pictures in order as well.  

When selecting, look for interesting details in photos that are otherwise cluttered or busy. You can improve the image by cropping to highlight those details. Cropping an image allows part of the image to represent the complete idea, letting a detail stand in for the rest.  

Some images are more complex than others, so consider things like, how many faces are in a picture when timing a slide show.  Is the image on the screen long enough to identify all of the people or take in all the essential details in the picture? Give yourself permission to make exceptions to the “3 seconds each” mindset.  

Keep titles and transitions between images subtle and let the pictures be the star of your show.   

If you include text with the images, keep it concise and in sync with the images. Slide shows tell a visual story, less can be more with written copy. Evoke and document. When designing a book, use the same process and consider how each image moves a story forward, page by page just like a frame by frame movie. 

Digital images tip- work your way through them a bit at a time. Consider printing an index sheet with a thumbnail of each digital image, so when you need a photo, you can actually find it. Full-service photography stores can print and bind index sheets so they look like books themselves. I have several and I love them. Though my images are not in any particular order, other than loosely by year, I can easily find what I’m looking for. And I have fun browsing so many other memories.  Without the index book, these images would all be hiding in digital form. 

The hardest part about making a photo memorial? Getting to it and with it. I spent most of May sorting photos and now? Now I actually have to find the courage to start, to immerse myself. So my last tip: Don’t wait until you are up against a deadline to organize images. When emotions overwhelm, this task can be excruciating. 

Photos make one of the most potent memoirs you can create to celebrate and honor someone you love, their achievements, life and your lives together. I’m looking forward to a finished project I can be proud of sharing.


Jenna CapletteJenna Caplette migrated from California to Montana in the early 1970s, first living on the Crow Indian reservation. A Healing Arts Practitioner, she owns Bozeman BodyTalk & Integrative Healthcare. For relaxation, she reads novels and walks the trails around Bozeman with her four-legged-companion. Oh, and sometimes she manages to sit down and write.