10 Ways to Compare Ancestor Photos with Software


OK, so you have collected all these ancestor photos, either from your parents or grandparents photo albums (or loose photos). And you have talked to cousins and aunts and uncles and have borrowed theirs and maybe have scanned them. Now what?

If you are like me you have created an “Unknowns” folder of scanned photo images or you have them in a box or envelope somewhere. The operative word is “Unknown.”

I am lucky – I have a genealogy “buddy” 2nd cousin who I collaborate with and we try to decide who these people are, And we look at where the photo was taken, what the surroundings are and who they look like. Not very scientific but it does seem to work.  And once in a while we feel we have a Positive ID.

You can always read about photo dating and/or hire experts such as Maureen Taylor or Jayne Shrimpton. Then again RootsChat in the UK has a neat forum where you can get photos “dated” by crowdsourcing volunteers. And these are certainly your “best bets” in my opinion.  Full disclosure: I have never used any of these services, but I may consider their use in the future.

But is there another way? There are lots of software tools, all the way from photo duplicate finders and aging apps on smartphones to the cream of the crop, which are those facial recognition packages that have been created for law enforcement and security.

But we don’t want to spend a gazillion dollars doing this do we? What are some of the software and applications out there that you might want to look at? Below is a random list of different types of applications that you can try. Some perform duplicate analysis by comparing photos. Others do face analysis to find those who seem to “belong together.” And then there are some who age up or down from a source photo to estimate what the face would like look years in the future or past.

Please note that I am not reviewing any of these for their positive or negative characteristics, nor do I have any relationship with the creators of any of these packages. This is just a list of applications that you might want to research further and consider for your own use.

A word of caution for those packages that do face tagging. If you have photos of your grandmother’s elementary school class, or you Dad’s graduating class from Boot Camp, many of these applications will create a “face” for every single person in the photo, which means you might be in for some tedious work if you aren’t interested in their class members. So choose the photos that you wish to “auto analyze” carefully.

  • Picasa – I have used Picasa for many years and until a while ago never made use of their face/name tagging capability. But it is fairly easy to use
  • Fotobounce – similar to Picasa regarding face tagging – it is also fairly easy to use
  • VisiPics –  I have used this application to find duplicates
  • Awesome Photo Duplicate Finder – I have used this application to find duplicates
  • Visual Face Recognition – Their “Faceoff” product may be worth a try. I have not used it personally.
  • HourFace – a smartphone app that “ages” a subject photo
  • Aging Booth – a smartphone app that “ages” a subject photo
  • DeepFace and FindMyFace –  this is software that Facebook and Google Plus (respectively) use to aid in tagging photos
  • Photo Organizers with some facial detection capability – iPhoto, Windows Live Gallery, Photoshop Elements, and digiKam
  • PhotoFaceMatch – was demonstrated at RootsTech; I am interested in following this application

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. If you are aware of any other applications that may assist other ancestor hunters in our quest to match names with photos, please comment!


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  1. Great list – I’ve checked out several and will give them a whirl over the next few weeks or so. Thanks, Kenneth!

  2. Great info – just bummed that when I downloaded Awesome Photo Duplicate Finder it changed by search engine from Google Chrome to Bing now I have to figure out how to get Google back

    1. Thanks Marilyn. Just go to Chrome Settings and there is a Search option where you can change it back. I had the same problem with a different downloaded software package recently.

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