Using Technology to Capture Age Regression and Progression in Photographs

Photography has come a long way since its invention in the 1830s and with the eye of an artist and computers, photographs can be manipulated to show people at various ages and stages of life to represent both for the past (regression) and future (progression).

Normally, they may see photo alterations with age for missing persons, adults and children. Keeping the hope that the missing person is still alive, they take a picture, typically from school or family portrait and make adjustments to facial and hair feature that would commonly occur as a person ages so they may be recognized and found.

What if that technology was used for genealogy? What if you only have certain pictures of your ancestors at a certain age? Are you curious to know what they looked like before as children or even babies? Maybe they died at a young age and the curiosity is there to visually see what they may have looked like as adults or grandparents.

The company that provides the service of both photo progression and regression is PhoJoe. I recently interviewed Emanuel Craciunescu (owner) and Jovey Hayes (main artist).

Age Progression

Age Progression is the process of taking a person and advancing their age into the future. PhoJoe’s process is quite unique. An artist works on each and every photo, in other words, it’s NOT an automated computer process, it’s a labor of love. The result is a much more accurate photo-realistic age progression.

Age progression is used for a variety of purposes;

  • Missing persons
  • Untimely deaths
  • Curiosity of what people will look like in the future

Emanuel explains that about 15 years ago, his company came up with their own unique process that they have developed and are continuing to perfect. It is part Art, part Science and a keen intuition developed from studying the human face. There is no accurate algorithm for aging.

There are far too many factors including environment and upbringing, drug and alcohol consumption, sun and pollution exposure, smoking, exercise frequency or lack thereof, stress and most important of all the thing people have no control over…DNA.

They occasionally have customers who use their services for genealogy. Recently a customer had several photos from the early 1900’s that they were wondering whether or not the photos were of the same person. They use family photos when they are available to compare facial features. These photos are very helpful in the process. Facial Recognition skills were used to determine that they, in fact, were not the same person.

What kind of restrictions are there for age progression images?


  • Face forward photos of the person looking directly at the camera are always preferred. A 35-70mm lens is preferred.
  • The distance from the camera should be about 3-8 feet depending on the lens used.

Not Preferred

  • Wide angle photos usually taken with a cell phone are not ideal for many reasons. They completely distort a person’s face. Most cell phones have a wide angle lens which distorts a person’s face.
  • Selfie photos completely distort a person’s face so they are not usually very helpful.

Fun Fact: PhoJoe has done Facial Recognition comparisons of paintings done previous to the invention of photography. In this project, they compared paintings of a child and adult to determine whether or not they were of the same individual.

PhoJoe has aged many celebrities including rock stars and musicians. Check out this page for examples.

They also do quite a bit of work for bereaved parents who wish to see what their children may have looked like now if they were still alive as well as a quite a bit of work for missing children and adults including fugitives of the law.

Probably one of the most unique requests they receive is when sperm or egg donors want to estimate what a child may look like using age progression.

Fun Fact: They once received a request to age progress a dog but that project never materialized.

Age Regression 

Age regression is the process of going backward in time to show what a person looked like at a younger age. Like progression, it is part art, part science and a keen intuition developed from studying the human face.

Age regressions for photos are ideal for people with damaged or destroyed photos and for those that photos that simply don’t exist at certain times in a person’s life. It’s also helpful for missing persons and those who were adopted at a young age.

A highly trained intuitive human eye is the most important thing in the process. Family photos are always very helpful if they are available.

Age regression is occasionally used for Genealogy. Usually, a photo is regressed to see if it is the same individual in different photos.

Most of the regressions they do are for children who have been adopted, usually from China, Russia and Romania but it can be from any country. These individuals usually only have 1 or 2 photos and rarely any photos before the age of 2.

PhoJoe has regressed the photos of several celebrities, one of which is from the comedy world because they did not have baby photos of themselves.

Other Services

  • Photo SlideShow – Slideshows for a wide variety of occasions from weddings to anniversaries to funerals. They are usually in chronological order.
  • Photo Collage – Photo collages are usually done for weddings, newborns and funerals.
  • Photo Colorization – Photo colorization is one of their most popular services. Usually, the photos are from the 1940’s to the 1970’s but they have colorized daguerreotypes dating back to the start of photography in the early 1840’s. They recently restored and colorized hundreds of images for the History Channel series Blood & Glory (The Civil War in Color) 
  • Scanning/Archiving – They occasionally scan in a large group of photos for someone who is looking to preserve and archive their family history. As we here often in genealogy, Emmanuel highly recommends that everyone gets their photos backed up by having them scanned in.PhoJoe recently received an email from a customer who lost everything in the California Wildfires that just destroyed over 140,000 acres. Absolutely everything was gone; house, cars, possessions and photos. Fortunately, everyone was OK. They completed some work for her about eight years ago and she was checking to see if they had kept any of her photos on file. Similar stories have played out many times as natural disasters such as Hurricanes; tornadoes and floods seem to be occurring at a much greater ratio than in the past. Luckily, they do keep everything on file and archive all photos that are worked on.
  • Photo Restoration – This is usually their most popular service. PhoJoe has amazing artists on staff. They specialize in badly damaged photos that most companies would not take on. They come to PhoJoe hoping that they can perform miracles on their badly damaged photos and they meet their expectations! PhoJoe can even restore newsprint type photos with the dot matrix texture. Samples can be found here. They have repaired photos that were torn to pieces by jilted lovers and hungry dogs as well as restored photos that were torn, stained, faded, mildew/mold and even blurry photos. They will re-create photos where a large part of the face is missing using their knowledge and skills of age progression and the human face.
  • Document Restoration – Restoration of marriage certificates to diplomas, birth and death records, etc.
  • Photo Art – Sometimes a customer requests oil painting, hand drawn or watercolor effect for their photos.
  • Printing – Print photos from wallet to poster size (24×36), including canvas prints.


Non-Commercial Age Progression – $199.
Orders include (4) free 4×6 prints or (2) 5×7 prints or (1) 8×10 print or the high-resolution file.

Non-Commercial Age Regression – $249.
Orders include (4) free 4×6 prints or (2) 5×7 prints or (1) 8×10 print or the high-resolution file.

*Commercial projects do have an additional cost, please contact PhoJoe for a quote.

PhoJoe in the News

For more information about PhoJoe, check out these international news articles featuring projects completed by PhoJoe. You can also visit their website and email them for additional information or to request a quote for a project.

Published Articles

ABC News

Paul Fronczak: Is This the Man Stolen at Birth From Chicago Hospital in 1964?

Imagining What Would Elvis Be Like at 80

Crime Watch Daily

Motor City Mystery: Where is Baby Bianca?

National Geographic

Brain Games

New York Post

Imagine if these deceased music legends had survived

Telegraph UK

A Picture of Holocaust Victim Anne Frank, Aged 80


Age Progression Tech to Help Police Find Missing Kids: How Well Does it Work?


Searching for Ramona Brown: Could DNA Solve the Mystery?