How to Find Copies of Photos on the Internet

How to Find Copies of Photos on the Internet

by Kerry Scott on 15 May 2011

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Hey, you know what’s handy?  This website called TinEye.

I found it the other day when I was looking for a way to determine whether someone’s blog profile picture was a real picture or a stock photo.  You upload a copy of the picture, and it looks on the internet for the same picture (and it worked perfectly for what I was using it for…which is a whole other story).

Then it dawned on me that I could use this to help find copies of unidentified photos in my own collection.  I tried uploading my photo of unknown young people from Albert Lea, Minnesota, and it found a copy of it right away (alas, the copy was the one I had posted on my own blog).  I experimented with a few other photos, and it works pretty well.

I also tried using it for the photo above, which is one that was apparently given to my great-grandparents as a wedding gift in 1913.  The photo says “Copyright 1904 James Arthur.”  I have no idea what the significance of it is.  Are these people actors?  Is that guy in the lace collar and tights the Brad Pitt of his day?  Who knows.  I did find that a copy of the same photo (in the same frame) recently sold on eBay, so somebody else must find it significant too.

Anyway, TinEye.  Check it out.  It’s handy for seeing if others have copies of  your pictures, which can be a huge clue as to the identities of the people in them.  Plus, it’s free.

DISCLAIMER:  I have no connection, financial or otherwise, to TinEye, Brad Pitt, or the lace collar industry.  Also, my blog profile picture is of my actual face.  I’m wacky like that.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Missy Corley May 15, 2011 at 4:57 pm

I’ll have to try this out for the Friends Album!!!! Thanks!


Kerry Scott May 15, 2011 at 5:00 pm

The Friends Album was what I had in mind when I wrote the post…I can totally see this being handy for situations like that, where you have photos of people you don’t know and want to see if relatives are out there posting them as well. I’m way more motivated to scan some of my group and unknown photos now that I know this tool is out there.


geniaus May 15, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Your little red wagon is full of great clues. Thanks for sharing this one with us.


Ruy Cardoso May 15, 2011 at 4:58 pm

I haven’t tried it yet, but this sounds cool. Way cool.


kristin May 15, 2011 at 5:05 pm

A perfect wedded couple? Anyway, it sounds good and I’m going to try a few unidentified photos. Hope I will not be directed back to my own blog.


kristin May 15, 2011 at 5:10 pm

what is that little heap lying on the floor at their feet?


Kerry Scott May 15, 2011 at 6:26 pm

I’m not sure. It sort of looks like bells on a string or chain. Wedding bells, maybe?


Debi May 15, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Oh this is COOL! I can’t wait to try it out!

And, by the way, I love finding photos to add to my blog using the method you posted about last fall. Thanks for that!


Kerry Scott May 16, 2011 at 9:30 am

My favorite part of putting together a blog post is looking for the photos. There are some amazing amateur photographers out there.


Paul Martin May 16, 2011 at 7:30 am

Another tool that sometimes works is the Google Goggles smartphone app – just snap a picture with your phone of the photo and it will return results matching the pattern! I tried this out with a photo of my mother at Rockefeller Center in NYC in the 1960s and Google recognized the plaza.


Kerry Scott May 16, 2011 at 9:30 am

Oh, wow. I’ve only had an iPhone for a few weeks so I didn’t know about this app. That sounds perfect for identifying the locations of the photos in a collection I have from one ancestor’s trip to Europe in 1930. Thanks!


Greta Koehl May 16, 2011 at 7:56 am

That sound is me being smacked up side the head and the light bulb going on – oh, do I have some stuff I want to check out! Thanks for this great tip!


Susan Tiner May 16, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Ooh. This is a great tip and I may use it to check for copies of some of my photos.

The woman in the above photo seems quite mesmerized with the floor.


Dee May 17, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Love this tip.


Carol May 20, 2011 at 9:52 am

Thank you! This looks really helpful for finding clues to my unidentified photos. I love your little red wagon full of goodies!


Celia Lewis February 3, 2013 at 11:07 am

Okay!! Another wonderful tool to use. I had no idea… I’ve tried dragging photos in Images/Google Search but often got weird results. Another good reason to finish scanning my photos – particularly the totally unnamed undated ones! Thanks so much for posting about this post.


desmond Archibald April 6, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Hi, my mother brought this picture into my room and asked if I could find any information on this particular picture, and the only information that I came up with was what was already on your site. Any information that you are able to give me would really be appericated, thanks in advance.

M. Desmond Archibald


Kerry Scott April 9, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Desmond—I’d definitely click on the trackback link below that says “For What He’s Worth: The Story of History’s Forgotten Photographer.” The author has all sorts of interesting information.


Trish March 28, 2014 at 3:35 pm

I love your blog. Love reading the stories and hints and such. Thanks for the TinEye, it’s great. I love the above photo, did you ever find who it was?


Kerry Scott March 28, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Thanks! The backtrack links below give more info on the origin of the photo and the photographer.


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