Among the many tasks plaguing families during funeral preparation is trying to create posters and photo-display boards, which often is time-consuming and damages precious photos of loved ones. Online services abound, but Katy Samuels and her brother, Scott, wanted to bring the process closer to families.
The siblings, along with a talented extended family, launched Memories of Loved Ones
, affectionately dubbed “MoLo,” in late 2009.
They’ve received as few as 40 up to as nearly 400 photographs in preparing for funerals and celebrations, often graduation parties and the like. Turnaround times are quick; Katy says her team once created nine collages and a 40-minute DVD from 395 photos in less than 24 hours.
MoLo also has a very visible presence: a 35-foot, green and purple RV that houses their camera and scanning equipment, as well as seating and snacks for families who climb aboard with photos, trophies, stuffed animals, quilts and other memorabilia in tow.
Katy says the RV offers a handful of advantages, “When we go meet a family, they’re making a ton of decisions in a short amount of time. We don’t want people to feel like they have to pick up for us.” Families also don’t have to worry about photos being damaged or lost, as all the scanning is done before they leave.
Once inside, family members relax while Katy and the MoLo team get to work photographing and scanning each item. With three-dimensional things, such as medals or knitting, they typically photograph the item, and use image-manipulation software to create collages. For example, a favorite quilt may be photographed while draped over a blank poster board. In a final collage, the quilt will be digitally placed so that it “hangs” over a photo.
MoLo isn’t a service just for funerals, either, as Katy and Scott field requests for everything from graduation parties to nonprofit awareness events. They donate services regularly for anyone who dies in the line of duty, whether that be as a firefighter, police officer or military serviceperson.
A 60 to 90-minute scanning process usually evolves into much more than that; Katy says she’s even received standing ovations from families as she delivered collages and poster boards. Somehow, in between scanning, chatting, snacking and sharing, a bond forms.
“Most people will tell us it’s the best experience because they get to remember, tell stories and laugh. That’s the fun of going through pictures, and it helps you go through the grieving process,” Katy says. “We go from meeting a perfect stranger to feeling like we’re a part of the family.”
By Robin Donovan