Two Services That Help You Solve Your Old Family Photo Mysteries

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Every family has a few mysterious old photos in their archive. Whether it’s a cool old family portrait, or a fascinating vintage wedding photo, most families can relate to discovering these intriguing treasures in attics and shoeboxes. Rather than asking yourself, “who is the mystery man in this antique photo,” you should get expert help! Thankfully, there are two great services that help you solve your old family photo mysteries.

1. Identify A Photo

Vickie and David Ortiz are passionate about solving family photo mysteries. They’re photo hunters focused on uncovering identities behind old family photos. Their personal project quickly grew into a robust resource for families who want to solve photo mysteries. Their commitment is inspiring and they love digging for details.

While researching her own family history and seeking proof of her Indian heritage, Vickie began a personal journey that led to helping many families. Vickie sums up her mission beautifully:

Connecting people with the past is now a passion my husband David and I share. We love what we are doing and are looking forward to identifying your photos. Reuniting photos with families is such a rewarding experience.

How does it work?

It’s super simple. People submit mysterious photos to Identify a Photo, and their team meticulously assigns keywords that are related to the photo or the person/family submitting them. From there, Identify a Photo offers an easy-to-use search feature on their website. Simply type in a name or keyword and you’ll find extensive results! In addition, there’s a handy Search Guide that offers tips and tricks for researching old family photos and identifying key people.

2. The Photo Detective

How cool is it that there’s an actual photo detective out there to help families solve their old family photo mysteries? Maureen Taylor is a top-notch sleuth who draws from years of experience identifying photos. She knows that the tiniest details can reveal the biggest clues about a person, where they came from and what they meant to their friends, their family – even the world.


From features in The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal, it’s clear that Taylor is an expert in solving photographic mysteries. Learning about her process is like hearing tales from an archaeologist or inspector.

Like a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, she starts with small elements in photos, collecting clues from each detail. Taylor looks closely at details like hairstyles, clothing type, and signage in the background. All of these clues are pieced together with careful attention to period-details that help her understand when and where a photo was taken.

The results are amazing; she has helped many families solve old photo mysteries to reveal how pictures fit into family history.

To learn more about Maureen Taylor, Photodetective, check out her informative site and submit your own mysterious photos!
rachellacourBy Rachel LaCour Niesen, Steward of Stories & Founder of SaveFamilyPhotos.

Rachel is a Yankee by birth but a Southern storyteller at heart. When a much-loved uncle gifted her with her first SLR camera, Rachel found her calling in photography. In pursuit of her passion, she headed to the University of Missouri, where she studied Photojournalism and Art History. Since then her work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle. Along with her business partners, she founded LaCour, a wedding photography studio based in Atlanta. As LaCour grew, the team co-founded ShootQ, a cloud-based business management application for photographers. In 2010, ShootQ was acquired by Pictage. When she’s not curating old family photos, she enjoys adventures with her husband and partner in entrepreneurship, Andrew Niesen.


Ginny bennett says:

April 29, 2015 at 4:09 pm

I have pictures galore. I met the Photo Detective at a work shop. I still cannot ID my photos but I keep trying. Thanks for helping!


rachellacour says:

June 3, 2015 at 2:56 pm

So glad you are preserving your priceless family photos! They are indeed one of a kind.


Cherlyn Bruns says:

April 29, 2015 at 5:55 pm

How DO i submit a picture for this service Do I ned to join an organization other than Family Search or Ancestry? Please advise information including cost per picture or Per year. Thank You. Cherlyn Bruns


rachellacour says:

June 3, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Hi Cherlyn – so sorry for the slow reply! You don’t need to join a service like Ancestry or Family Search; you just need to reach out to Maureen Taylor through her great site. Here’s the link to contact her directly:


Pat collins says:

April 29, 2015 at 6:37 pm

I have a photo of my gtgrandfather in a military uniform taken in the 1860’s that I have not been able to identify


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