Portrait & Studio
Photographers
in the UK:
19th & early 20th
century

Edwardian ladies in restored colour

Dating a photograph

At some time we've all been faced with a photograph of our ancestors but were unsure whether it showed our great grandparents or our 2xgreat grandparents. Fortunately there are several reasonably reliable methods for working this out.
  • Characteristics of the photo: An assessment of a few simple features can give a surprisingly good indication of the date of some types of photograph. The calculator on this site currently handles only two types: the carte-de-visite , which was very popular during the second half of the 19th century; and the postcard print , which was very common in the first half of the 20th century. The results given by the calculator can only be indicative but they should be useful for guiding your assessment of fashions or narrowing down your searches for photographers in directories.

  • Fashions: Several of the links below give guidance on how to judge roughly when a photograph was taken by examining the style of clothes and comparing them with the fashions of the times.
  • Trade directories: The databases on this and other sites list information from trade directories which give the years in which a photographer was in business at a particular address.

Useful books:

Links to other sites: