Dating Old Photographs

Unfortunately many old family photographs are not annotated with the sitter’s name.

Because of this, these are the questions we get asked again and again. How can I date old photographs? How old is my photograph? Will dating my old photograph help me to decide who the subject is?

Yes, an accurate date does help to pinpoint who the subject/s of the photograph might be.

Knowing when a photograph was taken, where it was taken – together with the details of the image itself – often make it possible to decide who the sitter really is. Often it can confirm it is who you think it is. Sometimes it can even confirm that it is NOT who you think it is!

Dating an old photograph is like a detective game. There can be so many clues which, when all taken together, can give you a very accurate result.

Depending on the type of photograph, the sorts of clues that may be available include:

  • photographer’s name
  • photographer’s address/s
  • hairstyles
  • clothes and fashion accessories
  • studio props
  • card mount – shape and size
  • card design – including graphic artwork, typography, font size and colour
  • card manufacturer and printer
  • photographic process
  • patrons
  • medals awarded
  • etc. etc. etc.


To date your old family photograph (1840 – 1940)

Try the following approach:

  • Get an approximate idea by looking at the different types of photograph produced and when they were available
  • I can personally date your photographs using a wide range of data sources and techniques available to me. Please click on custom dating.


For more details, click on the links above or use the drop down menu at the top of this page.