3 Custom Memorial Portrait Options For Headstones

Most Recent Posts

Alecia Milano
Posted by Alecia Milano on April 2, 2024

When families embark on the journey of headstone design, the choices can feel endless. From intricate lettering to memorable symbols, each element serves as a canvas for commemorating a life. Among these design options, the most intimate is a memorial portrait. 

Capturing the essence of a loved one through a custom memorial portrait offers a timeless connection for both present and future generations. Whether it's a religious symbol, scene of nature or token of shared passions, these portraits are timeless tributes to one's legacy. 

As with most headstone design decisions, there are multiple options. Continue reading below, as we explain three common memorial portrait options and how they differ in costs. 

Why Should I Add a Photo to a Headstone? 

In the age-old tradition of memorialization, the question of whether to include a photo on a headstone holds significance. While some may ponder the necessity of this addition, the benefits are evident and deeply personal.

Hagmann - Upright Monument - Holy Cross Akron Micovic - Upright Monument - St. Sava Cemetery

  • Facilitating remembrance. Memories fade with time, but a photograph preserves moments frozen in time. Placing a photo on a headstone ensures that the face of your loved one remains vividly etched in the minds of visitors, fostering a sense of remembrance and reverence.
  • Creating a visual legacy. Just as stories are passed down through generations, so are images. Including a photo on a headstone imparts a visual legacy that transcends words, offering future descendants a tangible link to their ancestry and heritage.
  • Celebrating life. Above all, adding a photo to a headstone is a celebration of life—a heartfelt reminder of the joy, love and laughter shared with the departed. It transforms a mere marker into a living tribute, preserving their memory for generations to come. 

>>> Related Resource: How to Choose the Best Memorial Photo for a Headstone 

Memorial Portrait Options

1. Hand Etched Memorial Portrait

Hand etching is a unique and difficult skill that adds incredible character and customization to a memorial. Talented hand etchers can take a scenic picture or multiple images of a person and create a one-of-a-kind memorial portrait.  


For example, you may provide separate photos of family members, and our talented hand etchers create one cohesive memorial portrait. Not only is hand etching an impressive precision skill, but it is also a true art that requires creativity that cannot be replicated by a machine. 

Milano Monuments is thankful to have extremely talented hand etchers who can personalize your photograph. Contact us to learn about our hand etching artists. 



2. Laser Etched Memorial Portrait

Laser etching, which is similar to hand etching, is an effective option for families who want an image replicated onto stone. Though it does not offer the same artistic distinction as hand etching, this method enables portraits to be etched on the memorial at a lower cost. 

Cunningham - Lawn Level Memorial

The result can be excellent, as long as the photos provided are high quality. The machine is only able to etch exactly at the quality that is provided. 

When high quality images are provided, laser etchings can create beautiful portraits, logos or other symbols set in stone. 

3. Porcelain or Ceramic Memorial Portrait

An alternative memorial portrait option—and one that is typically more cost-effective than either etching option—is a ceramic or porcelain photo. Instead of having a portrait etched onto the stone, a porcelain or ceramic photo is attached to the memorial. 

Collins - Upright Monument - York Township Cemetery - Monument   Porcelain or Ceramic Picture Photo

When considering this option, keep these porcelain memorial photo details in mind:

  • Available in standard sizes 2.25 in. to 10 in., but can go bigger if desired.
  • Material is typically porcelain, but ceramic is also an option.
  • Typical shapes include oval, square, rectangle or heart.
  • White with gray and black is the least expensive, but color is available.
  • Porcelain and ceramic manufactures offer their own warranty in the unlikely event of a damaged memorial.

How Do Memorial Portrait Options Differ in Costs? 

Pricing is often an important factor for families when designing a memorial.

When it comes to etching, laser is less expensive than hand etching. This is because it requires less time and skill than hand etching.

While costs for either will vary depending on size or detail, families should budget the following:

  • Laser etching: An 8-inch, laser-etched portrait starts at $595.
  • Hand etching: An 8-inch hand etching starts at $1095, and price varies depending on the design's size, detail and complexity.
  • Porcelain or ceramic photos: The cost starts at $265, and increases depending on size, finish and color. 

The price for other image types—such as scenery, pets and other unique designs—will depend on the complexity. 

Uncover More Information on Memorial Costs

A memorial or monument is a lasting symbol that honors and celebrates the life of a lost loved one. Download our Memorial Cost Guide to learn how headstone costs are determined and to see what’s possible for your budget. 

New call-to-action

Topics: Memorialization

Recent Posts

New Call-to-action

Follow Us