Photo Detective: Get a Free Photo Analysis

Photo Detective: Get a Free Photo Analysis

Do you have a photograph you've always wondered about—when it was taken and who's in it? Help is just a mouse click away. In this Identifying Family Photographs column, I take on photo mysteries that readers like you send in. And here's the best part: It's free...

Do you have a photograph you’ve always wondered about—when it was taken and who’s in it? Help is just a mouse click away. In this Identifying Family Photographs column, I take on photo mysteries that readers like you send in. And here’s the best part: It’s free! If I select your picture for identification and analysis in this column or in the print-edition Family Tree Magazine Photo Detective column, you’ll get a chance to find out more about your mystery image.

It’s easy to enter your picture by emailing me a scan of it or snail-mailing a photographic copy of the original to the editors at the magazine. Follow these instructions to increase the chances your photograph will be picked:

The Basics

  • Send a clear, good-quality scan or photographic copy of the entire image. A photographic copy is a copy you’d print on photo paper from your computer, or make at a Kodak PictureMaker kiosk. Don’t send an ordinary photocopy—the image quality is too poor for analysis. If the photo has writing or printing on the back, send a photographic copy or scan of it as well.
  • Include your full name, address and telephone number (and an e-mail address if you have one) so I can contact you for more information if I choose your photo for analysis. I don’t share this information. If I’m under a deadline I might even call you to chat about the image.
  • Share information you have about the picture such as family stories, genealogical information on possible subjects and anything else related to the picture.
  • Tell me your specific question about the photograph, such as “I’m trying to learn whether this woman is my grandmother or great-grandmother” or “What does the insignia on Grandpa’s shoulder mean?”

E-mail Submissions:

  • Scan the picture with the resolution set at 300 dpi (dots per inch), and save it as a JPG file. Adjust the image size to no larger than 8×10 inches—bigger than that and the file size will be too large for me to download. E-mail it as an attachment to To submit multiple images, you can send each one in its own email or send them together as a ZIP (compressed) file.

    If you’re having trouble scanning your photo, consult the tutorials at or see Rhonda McClure’s book <a target=”_blank” href=”store/display.asp?id=70660″>Digitizing Your Family History (Family Tree Books, $19.95).

  • Make sure Family Tree Magazine is the subject line of your e-mail. Otherwise I’m liable to think your message contains a virus or is spam, and hit delete without opening it.
  • If you don’t hear from me within a month, please contact me to see if I received your message. Unfortunately, e-mail is not error proof.
  • I often save photographs for analysis in later Identifying Family Photographs or Photo Detective columns. If you change your e-mail address after you’ve sent me a photo, please send me your new address so I can update my files.
  • If I choose your photo for analysis, I’ll need to get in touch with you, so please check your e-mail account periodically. Also, add my e-mail address,, to your address book. That way, my messages to you will get through your spam blockers.

Snail-Mail Submissions:
You also can mail me a photographic copy (see above). Do not send originals—we can’t return photo submissions. Address it to Family Tree Magazine, Attn: Identifying Family Photographs, 4700 E. Galbraith Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45236.

I look forward to seeing your pictures!

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