Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sepia Saturday: Comparing Photos to Make A Positive ID

I am so fortunate that a previously unknown cousin found me a couple of years ago through She has been a wealth of information about my Finnish family and has shared some fantastic photos and letters. Today she sent me some photos that she found in an old album. Most of them were identified, but this one was not. Immediately, I felt that the woman in the photo was a blood relative. Her eyes reminded me of my Finnish grandmother.

Courtesy Alan and Sara Grostick

It was on the same page as an identified photo of Lea Ahola, the daughter of Jaakko and Ida Ahola, so my cousin guessed that this might be a photo of them. At first glance, I didn't think so. Then I pulled out the known photos of Ida and had to agree. Below is a photo of Ida and an unidentified friend in Vancouver, British Columbia. (My Finnish cousins think that Ida looks like me in this photo.)

Courtesy Antti Honkaharju

In the two photos, the hair is a little different, but the facial features look strikingly similar. I am quite confident that they are the same person. Do you agree?

Ida Sophia Honkaharju, my first cousin twice removed, was born 2 August 1904 in Lapua, Finland. She emigrated to Canada sometime in the late 1920s and married Jaakko Ahola in Vancouver, British Columbia on 26 March 1931. Jaakko and Ida had three children - Esa, Lea and Eljas. Sometime in the thirties, Ida and Jaakko decided to move back to Finland and they settled in Haapajarvi. Ida died on 20 June 1996.

I would very much like to find her descendants. I believe that some of them may still be in Canada. On, I find an Esa Ahola living in British Columbia as recently as 2002. Maybe he will Google himself one day and find this post. I sure hope so!

Find more posts like this one on the Sepia Saturday blog.


  1. Yes, they do look very similar.The hair is different, and the photo on the left the lady has a fuller-face...But ,yes, they could well be the same person.

  2. I also think it is the same person. In the photo on the left she appears to be a bit older. the eyes, nose and shape of the chin are the same. The hair is in a different style but it still wavy.

  3. If not the same, then definitely related. :)

  4. I’d agree - the same person. I like the picture of the two ladies!

  5. Lovely photos. I agree, it has got to be the same woman in both pictures.

  6. I also think it's the same woman in both photos. She has such an unusual and beautiful face.

  7. She would have been younger in the photo on the right, which could account for some of the differences. Thanks for the comments!

  8. One way to be tell is to align the faces to the same pose and overlay one photo over another at various degrees of opacity (0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, & 100%). I do this in Photoshop.

    Unfortunately, it is not fail-safe as you may may have two relatives that look surprisingly alike.

    I have an example on my blog of my wife and daughter.

    I have done this to confirm and refute Civil War soldiers' identities when there is a question.


  9. Google says they now have the technology to do facial recognition from all the image files on the internet. But they have withheld it because of privacy concerns. But history detectives would like to use it for photos like these. I think you have a match too.

  10. I think they look like the same person.

  11. I'll add my voice to the chorus, and say that they look very similar.