You have a photo, but you do not know where it was taken. Is there a way to find out where the photo was taken?
While there is no 100% guarantee that you will ever find out, there are a few things you can try to figure out in order to figure out the origin of your mysterious photograph.
EXIF ??data is always the first stop
EXIF data is a form of metadata found in some JPEG and TIFF images. If the camera that took the photo has a GPS device, it will tag the image with the GPS coordinates of the location where the image was taken as part of the EXIF ??data.
Armed with these coordinates, all you have to do is put them on Google Maps, which will of course tell you where the photographer was standing when the photo was taken.
If this sounds too simple, it is because it is. You will often find that a given image has no EXIF ??data at all. While smartphones are the most common source of photos and all have GPS sensors, popular services such as Facebook and Twitter strip EXIF ??data from images specifically to prevent privacy breaches. So if your image is from them, it will be a dead end.
By the way, check out our article on how to delete EXIF ??data yourself, which also shows you how to view this data in the process. Alternatively, you can use the EXIF ??online viewer.
Find GPS Coordinates on Google Maps / Street View
While finding GPS coordinates is easy enough, you need to connect them to a map system to find the exact location. The good news is that Google Maps actually supports raw GPS coordinates.
Google has great instructions on how to do this, what format it should be in and how the method changes from one platform to another. Just remember that GPS coordinates are inaccurate, at least in civilian systems. So it can be a few meters lower.
Therefore, if possible, activate street view for the location in question, and then look around to see if you can find the same location from which the photo was taken. Of course, if the location is indoors or out of the reach of street viewers, it won’t help.
Reverse Image Search can give you context
There are various reverse image search services on the Internet that use various fancy ways to find the original image online. It doesn’t necessarily tell you directly where the photo was taken, but if you’re lucky it will lead you to more information about the image.
For example, you can find tags, signatures, or contact information for those who run the site. These data sources will help unravel the mystery of where the photo was taken. May be.
Convert image to search terms
A reverse image search doesn’t always give good results, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost when trying to find the original source of the image. Look at your image and try to come up with search terms that describe it.
Then enter those terms into Google and go to the image search results section. If you’re lucky, you will get the original image in the search results as it was originally hosted on the internet.
If you are not immediately successful, get creative with your keywords and try different options. Sometimes the keywords that lead you to the desired image may be slightly to the left of the margin.
Check for features or other clues
If the methods above don’t get you any closer to finding the location where the photo was taken, it may be time to put on a serious detective hat. Look closely at the image to find things that tie it to a specific time and place. Looking at clothing, objects, fashion, and other important image details.
Search for these individual elements on Google to see where they come from, or any other information that might help determine the origin of the photo. You can also use this method to get additional keywords for the previous method. At the very least, this rudimentary search can narrow the location down to a specific country, region, or city. For example, brand names can be very specific to certain places.
Get online help
If you’ve run out of simpler methods of determining the origin of a photograph, don’t be ashamed to ask others for help. Twitter, Facebook, forums and other places where people gather online.
Of course, you can’t just shout on the air and hope that someone will answer you. The content of your image and the reasons you want the site will determine where you turn to for help. For example, if you know that the image was taken in Japan but not where in Japan, you can ask a question in the Japanese geography or tourism group.
If you have a photo of an event or, for example, a group, you will want to post the question in a fan group. Basically, as a help among people who probably know the answer.
Elementary, dear Watson?
Finding the source of a photo and determining where it was taken can be quick and easy, or it can be very difficult. This means that at some point in the hunt you will have to think hard about how important it is to solve the riddle.
If this is just an occasional curiosity, then it is hardly worth looking for an answer on the Internet. However, if it really matters, then the most important advice we can give you is to be patient. While you may not find the answers today, the Internet is always on the move. Information is added all the time, so even if the photo is fuzzy or seems like a complete mystery, if you keep checking from time to time, the truth may finally be revealed.