How to make a tribute photo book

Grief Support
A pair of hands holds a very old photo album containing black-and-white family photos.

In this Internet Age, our society has become photo-centric. A few decades ago, photography was considered a specialized medium exclusive to artists, journalists and fashion photographers. Amateurs who picked up photography were hobbyists who could afford the then-expensive cameras. There definitely weren’t as many photography enthusiasts then compared to now.

Today, almost everyone has a mobile phone and, more likely than not, these phones include cameras. In the palms of our hands are countless photo albums filled with memories. But storing them is one thing; sharing them is another.

A tribute photo book is one of the best ways to honor a loved one who's died. Let's see how to make one as a tribute to their memory, and explore some of the ways you can make them shareable, too.

Creating a traditional tribute photo book

An old-fashioned tribute photo book is essentially a photo album specifically focused on your loved one's life. This will make a great keepsake, like a visual time capsule that you can keep to remember your loved one.

Step 1: Collect photographs

First, you'll need to collect photographic prints featuring your loved one, whether it's just them in the shot or with family, friends and colleagues.

Think of the tribute photo book as a kind of visual biography of your loved one. If the photos are in bad condition, you can scan them, then repair the scans using photo editing software like Adobe Lightroom. Or, you can hire a professional to do this if it's within your budget. They have the expertise to optimize the quality of creased, ripped, and faded photographs.

Afterwards, you can print the photos — along with any digital snaps you want to include in the photo book — and add them to your collection.

Step 2: Curate the selection

Now that you've collected the photos, it's time to pare them back to a limited selection. Think like a curator of a photo exhibition at a gallery, and choose the photos that depict your loved one as they truly were in life. Show different sides of their personality, and their interests, and try to include photos from different ages and stages of life, too.

What if you don't have any photos from one part of their life that you want to include? Consider including other memorabilia that you have from that age. For example, you may not have any photos of your loved one in their school years, but you might have school reports, certificates or awards. Consider stretching the meaning of "photo book" to include these if you need to. We'll talk more on this in a moment.

Step 3: Organize the story

The next step is to organize your curated photos to reflect your loved one's life story. You can organize them in various ways, such as:

  • Chronologically

  • Area of life (e.g. work, home, hobbies)

  • Milestones

  • Vacations and holidays.

Organizing your tribute photo book will make it easier for viewers to see a narrative, and understand your loved one's life as being like a novel with different chapters.

Step 4: Think outside the frame

As we mentioned above, you don't need to restrict yourself to photos. You can include other paper ephemera as well, such as postcards and tickets. Some examples include:

  • Tickets to a sporting event

  • Movie tickets from their first date

  • Plane tickets from a memorable vacation

  • Cruise tickets they received as a retirement present

  • Greeting cards

  • Letters (that aren't too personal)

  • Business cards with their name on it

  • Drawings, if they were an artist.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. Think outside of the box and make your photo book a multimedia collage.

Creating an online tribute photo book

Online tribute photo books, or memorials, are growing in popularity. Memories online memorials are just one of many different providers of what are effectively digital photo tribute services.

One key advantage of these kinds of tribute over physical photos books is that they can be accessed by entire families at once, no matter where those family members are located. You, as the person who makes the photo book, can also access it from anywhere through a web browser (or app, if the service has one). So, you don't have to be at home to get a boost from looking over those excellent photos of your loved one.

There are many advantages to an online memorial but whatever you choose to create your photo book, what’s important is that you’re preserving invaluable memories of your loved one that will last forever.