‘My book is about how visuals are used in non-filmmaking ways to persuade others. Emotions are at the core of the process. I’d be interested in a short description that I could include in my book. Focus on emotions, story-telling, and your audience, more than the filmmaking techniques themselves.’
A Personal Perspective
You only get one chance to evoke a response in people using the images they
have provided; one chance to create an emotional funeral slideshow.
When you attend a funeral, the funeral director or family have made a photo
slideshow to attempt to relay the meaning and magnitude of the deceased life.
Often the photos are randomly sequenced to a song with no apparent
connections. This means people are not drawn into the visual story, not drawn
into the emotional experience of this life. They become just photos to a song.
Family photos are the raw materials I use to create a wonderful living memorial
to evoke feelings and enhance the memories of lives shared. Working with
families to depict who their loved one was, means conveying who they were
through images and the deliberate sequencing of those images. As we go through
the photos I listen to the information and stories the family tells me in relation to
who their loved one is to them. As we are talking I move the story into a visual
format using the photos we are sorting. The combination and arrangement of
the photos and the experiences they are sharing provide the ‘magic’ people
witness at the end.
The family and contextual needs are very different for different age groups and
the audiences have very different responses and associations with images. Here
are four examples.
The death of a baby is always difficult. In this world of phone camera portability,
there is so much documented life in even a short span of time. Olivia was a cot
death baby of 3 months. She was her mother’s dream catcher baby. Mum had a
tattoo of a dream catcher to represent Olivia. I used photos of this and the photos
of the dream catchers hanging in her room to weave through the photos of her to
help create the story of this short but impacting life. The slideshow had some
snippets of her ultrasound with sounds of her heartbeat at the beginning. I
photographed her toys and things of meaning to her family. I did some of these
with mum and dad holding each side of a ‘green screen’ in front of her toys and
memorabilia where I later inserted some photos of Olivia to give a greater depth
of context to this slideshow.
Tracey was a young artist who did amazing and intricate line drawings,
especially of her first love, animals. I photographed some of these artworks and
wove them through parts of the slideshow. She drew a fine-lined tiger and I faded
this through to a photo of her with a tiger. There was a photo of her feeding
parrots all around her, which I was able to incorporate into her amazing drawing
of parrots with love hearts as feathers on the wings. This slideshow represented
a major part of her eulogy for the service. This pictorial spoke to a great extent
for the family.
Everyone who knew Audrey knew how much she loved Lavender. She loved to
look at it, smell and to grow it. She had so much of it in her garden. Photos of
Audrey’s lavender featured strongly in her slideshow with the photos of her. I
was aware that bunches of Lavender were going to be handed to all who
attended the funeral as they entered the chapel. Consequently, the fragrance of
the Lavender was rich throughout the service and created an especially deep
sense of connection with people being able to literally smell her garden as they
watched the slideshow.
When one of the partners in a marriage that has lasted 50 – 60 years dies, it is
important to depict the couple together, their shared experiences with an
emphasis on the deceased. People in this age bracket often have those wonderful
old photos in sepia, of them as a baby, the old colour touched wedding photos
and some great black and whites. I take the opportunity to rephotograph these
and heal any of the age marks and blemishes to give them the best
representation in the slideshow. Many photos of this era have the people and/or
the date written on the back and I photograph that for possible inclusion with
the photo. I also photograph mementos in their homes to add to the slideshow
so that family can hang on to some of the treasured memories of the family
home when it is lost to progress. At the end I revisit the best 10 photos of the
couple to illustrate their love and commitment to each other through the
I know I have done my job creating a great representation of a life story in the
form of a funeral slideshow when I see the audience laugh and cry and then
applaud at the end.