Choosing photos for an Order of Service

Blog: how to choose photos for an order of service.

How to choose photos for an Order of Service

One of the most common questions I am asked by families is; “How do I choose the photographs for the order of service?”. It’s a good question – how do you possibly narrow down a lifetime of memories into the number of photographs that will fit inside a booklet?

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 and broad range of photos. If this is you then this article will give you my best tips for choosing a wonderful selection.

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, we 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
  • 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 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 for each.
  • Pull them all together so that you can see the 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 – feel free to send us around 25% more photographs than there will ultimately be space for. This gives us some flexibility to select pictures which best fit the spaces available and that work together beautifully in harmony.
  • Send them to me via the dedicated upload link I have given to you.
  • If you’re sending extra, let me know if there are any that you particularly want to be included or any that you want to be positioned in specific places on 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. Whilst we do offer a full scanning service, families are very understandably reluctant to part with original images at this time. 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.

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 them returning to their former glory I can help with this. Just let me know what you’d like solving and I’ll get busy in Photoshop to do my very best. 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, don’t 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, in turn, is what our Orders of Service are designed to do at the funeral or memorial service – they allow 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.

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