Have you been off on a summer vacation taking lots of photographs? Are they still in your digital camera? Did you upload them to a website or to a photo-management program on your computer? What about the ones you had printed? Are they identified with names and dates (and the occasion if appropriate)?
After my first daughter was born, my mother-in-law would take all of our photos and write on the back of them (this pre-dates digital cameras). "You'll want to know who's in the picture and when it was taken," she told me. Being a good daughter-in-law, I just smiled, but thought, they're my pictures, of course I'll know who they are. Well it just so happens, that my oldest and youngest daughters look very much alike in the early years, and I sometimes puzzle over which one is in a picture. Score one for Mom.
I did not start my genealogical quest until the early 1990's, after all of my grandparents had passed away. My father gave me an album of pictures belonging to my great grandmother with most of the pictures taken in Ireland. I was so excited...until I discovered that not one picture in the book was identified. If you've viewed some of the other pages on my website, including the Photo page, you've seen the pictures from the album. One big mistake I made was removing all of the pictures from the album (it was falling apart) without keeping them in the same order. Unfortunately, I learned that too late. My great grandmother had eleven siblings and I'm certain that some of the pictures must be those siblings, but so far, I've been unable to identify them. I've tracked down some of the descendants of the siblings and sent them the pictures asking if they recognize any of them, but no luck.
So far, I've identified a few of the pictures. The picture at the beginning of the blog is my great grandparents along with my grandmother (far right). I identified the picture by checking the name of the photographer in the city directory in Dundalk to see when they were in business. It turned out that Allison and Allison was in business under that name from 1896 - 1898. George, the baby in the picture was born in Dundalk on 1 May 1896. The two girls are my grandmother, the oldest child, and her sister Florry. There was one child missing from the picture, but I learned from the 1901 census that he was living with his grandparents in Leitrim. This is the only picture I have of my great grandfather as he died in 1899. Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, confirmed the dating of the picture based on the clothing.
A collection of photographs from the Allison Photographic Studio of Armagh (which at times had studios in Dundalk and Warrenpoint and Newry) taken between 1900 and 1955 has been acquired by PRONI and some of the photos have been added to their website. I have been told that they have also acquired the Daybooks. These photos began appearing after I visited PRONI last year, so I'm looking forward to checking out this new resource when I next visit PRONI.
I also had some luck with a picture identified as "A Boy from Bridgeport, Connecticut." A women in California recognized the picture (having a copy of it as well) and identified it as John Willis Beattie. Her information pointed to a connection to a possible half sister to my great grandmother. She told me that John died in 1905, probably shortly after the picture was taken.
So don't give up hope. Like everything in genealogy work from what you know, send pictures to possible relatives, post the your pictures on websites like DeadFred, and try to identify clues in the picture. You never know when something might pop up.
Back to the original premise, I hope you will identify all of the individuals in your pictures to make sure your descendants don't have the same level of frustration.