Society & Culture & Entertainment Photography

How to Determine the Age of a Photograph

    • 1). Check the back and the front of the photograph to see if anyone left notations. It's not uncommon for someone to note the date of the photograph somewhere on the print.

    • 2). Examine the hairstyles of the people in the photograph. Hairstyles can say a lot about when the picture was taken. For example, hairstyles with perms could date the photo from the 1980s. A photograph taken in the mid to late 1970s might be of a woman with curled and feathered hair.

    • 3). Examine the clothing the people in the picture are wearing. As with hairstyles, clothing can tell you a great deal about the mainstream style during the time the picture was taken.

    • 4). Don a pair of ultraviolet sunglasses and hold the photo over a black light. If the image doesn't glow under the black light, chances are fairly good that the picture predates the 1950s. In the early 1950s, photographs had "brighteners" added to make the image more vibrant. Those brighteners react to a black light by glowing brightly.

    • 5). Consider the photograph itself. Modern images are usually on a single sheet of photo paper without any border. Older images generally have a border and are smaller than modern images. The quality of the picture is also a good indication of its age. If the image is brightly colored and well defined, it is probably a more contemporary image.

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