How old IS this photo

Tips on Dating Old Photographs

Holding on to old and happy memories can be difficult if you don’t know when they happened. Sure, you might have a large collection of photographs to prove the veracity of their occurrence. But this doesn’t mean you have all the details of your fun and wonderful times.

Now, before you start regretting your forgetful nature, understand that it’s not your fault. With time, it can become easy to simply hold on to those special moments and forget all the minor details. However, if you truly want to immortalize every aspect of your special days, we do have some ways through which you can date your old photographs. So take your box of old photos out and start dating your pictures by following the tips below, courtesy of your friendly provider of photo restoration in Houston, Tx.

Now let's figure out just how old that photo is.

Photograph Format

It’s very important to understand the history of photography if you want to date your old photos. For example, if you find a photo of your family in a post-card format, you can easily rule out the moments occurring before 1902. Using such distinct features to your advantage can quickly help you narrow down a timeline. But if you don’t have such knowledge handy, you can easily find it through online sources.

Print Size

Along with format, determine the size of the print image by using online guides. Prints have changed overtime so you may be able to find the right photograph size and narrow down your timeframe even more.  You will find several articles on Wikipedia that deal with this subject, but take a look at the screenshot below.  From here, we know that 8x10 and 16x20 color prints were introduced around 1949 (image from Popular Photography).

the introduction of color 8x10 photos

Professional Advice

Although we do offer photo restoration services, customers seeking information on other details of photography can also utilize our assistance to date their old photographs. Since such information isn’t always available online, you can use our knowledge to your advantage.

Women’s Attire

Fashion is usually the best indicator when it comes to noting down the time the picture was taken. For instance, if you have any pictures from the 19th century, use the sleeve length as an indicator of time. Sleeves changed length and shape through that time so it would be easy for you to notice a common trend. For example, in the image below you will see one photo from 1968 and another dated between 1910-1920.

two ladies sitting on a planter in 1968 - image shown is after photo restoration

Men’s Fashion

Any neckwear or such item would work great if you’re trying to narrow down a photo that features men. Details as simple as the shape of the collar or how one has tied their bow or tie can give you an update on the date of the photograph.  Around the mid-1900s and just before 1910, shirts for men became more lengthy and "stiff" looking.  Collars became much more prominent.  If one were to wear a dress shirt, it would be extremely rigid in feel and look.  Stripes became very popular.  Suspenders were very, very popular, especially among "country folk." Now, if you look very closely at the image below, you'll see exactly what we mean.  The stripes are a little difficult to see, but they are there!

Image of Plesant Tackett Allen - Texas Ranger - Digital Photo Repair by Heritage

Military Resources

Military photographs can often lead you to exact time periods since they take great care in noting down the time and date of the exact event. In fact, in many cases, military museums even hold events through which people can find out more about dating their old photographs through their assistance. As such, going to a session or an event might help you greatly with your own task.

loyde wayne grant in vietnam - photo retouching by heritage of houston

Personal Sources

If all the above details are not able to provide you with the information you need, your best bet would be to reach out to your family and relatives. If your pictures are related to your ancestors or your family, chances are that other members of your group may have similar photographs in their picture collections as well.

Check the Back

Even though this seems obvious, the fact that the date may be there on the back often passes over our heads, especially if the picture has been placed in a photo frame or an album for a long time. However, if you are not able to remove said photo because it had gotten stuck to the frame or the photo album, make the right choice and go to your local photo restoration service. This way, you won’t run the risk of ruining the picture if it persists staying attached or glued.


Reach out to  a Professional Photo Restoration Service Like Heritage!


Heritage Photo Restoration and Genealogy offers comprehensive digital photo repairphoto repair services to all customers in Houston. As a trusted name in the business, we are your best choice if you want to preserve your memories and moments the right way.

Want to find out more? Contact us or call us at 281–940–5870 to learn more about photo dating and repair. Don't forget to ask about PHOTOANCESTRY.