When someone is a grown-up, how can we refer to photos which were they were taken when they were younger?

I remember someone told me I can say "a photo of baby you/ baby him / baby Mary...".

I am not sure if the noun is longer, then can we still say that way?

For example, is "a photo of baby Aunt Mary..."?

and if it is not "baby" but "child" or "teen", can we say?

-a photo of teen you

-a photo of child him

-a photo of teen Mary or child Mary"?

if yes, can we say "a photo of teen Aunt Mary or child Aunt Mary"?

  • 1
    Not one of your examples is right. Where's your research?
    – Lambie
    Commented May 31 at 14:03
  • "how can we say their photos when they were taken when they were younger?" - That phrase doesn't work grammatically. Did you mean "how can we talk about photos taken when they were younger" or *"how can we say their photos were taken when they were younger"?
    – wjandrea
    Commented May 31 at 14:11
  • Tom - just add "as a". "a picture of Uncle James as a teen"
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 2 at 14:30
  • @wjandrea - in such cases just tap edit and fix the question, no need to comment on the issue. (I did it for you :) ) Any time you see a typo or spelling mistake, etc, in a question, just fix it.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 2 at 14:32
  • @Fattie I'm aware I can edit; I do it all the time on Stack Overflow :) I didn't do it here because it's more complicated than just a basic spelling error and it could change the meaning of the question. On the other hand, the question's still decently comprehensible without fixing.
    – wjandrea
    Commented Jun 2 at 14:50

5 Answers 5


"Baby James" is perhaps acceptable, but otherwise "... as a baby"

Here's a photo of Uncle James as a teen." (or "teenager")

Lots of alternatives such as "when he was a teenager".

  • 3
    Or "Uncle James as a teenager", as mentioned in the title. (In British English we use teenager rather than teen.) Commented May 31 at 7:25
  • -1 for not having a reason - when and why "baby James"? That really is the question, after all
    – Mike M
    Commented Jun 1 at 14:05
  • 1
    @MikeM Idiom is the reason for "baby James". Generally with natural languages you cannot "work out by reason" There isn't a logical reason why "as a teen" is better than "teen James".
    – James K
    Commented Jun 1 at 17:05
  • ♫♪♪ teen angel, teen angel, the one I adore ♫♪♪
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 2 at 14:33
  • @MikeM for better or worse there is no reason, whatsoever, for anything in language. As it famously ses in the 1st edition of the OED, dictionaries are descriptive not proscriptive. Most native speakers would agree that "baby James" is commonish (if a bit naff-sounding) but you don't hear variations on that.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 2 at 14:37

You don't specify a dialect, but standard British English would be one of:

  • “…picture of a teen-aged Uncle James.”
  • “…picture of Uncle James as a teenager.”

The hyphen in the first example is probably considered old-fashioned.

  • 5
    Yeah, as a millennial Brit I would definitely expect "teenaged" rather than "teen-aged"; the latter has about the same dated connotations to me as "to-day"...
    – Muzer
    Commented May 31 at 13:42

When you say something like "Here's a picture of baby you" instead of "you as a baby", you are highlighting the stage of life over the person. The more recent the stage, the more comical the locution becomes:

Here's a picture of baby you, and here's one of teenager you, and this one is middle age you, and here's a recent one of old man you.


It's very common to modifying the word "picture" with the event or type of photo. For example, a "baby picture," a "graduation picture," a "wedding picture," a "nude photo," a "passport photo," etc.

In these expressions, the adjective modifies the subject of the picture, not the picture itself.

In this case, I think the most idiomatic expression would be "a teen picture of uncle James" or "a teen-age picture of uncle James."

Here are some examples:

A comment from Fattie rightly pointed out that the above examples are taken from informal postings. While I would disagree that all social media posts are "...by definition incredibly badly written / illiterate," I did want to follow up with that observation.

Here is a google n-gram view of "teen photo" and "teenage photograph".

Below the screenshot are some quotations taken from professionally published novels, biographies, and non-fiction (found from the "Search in Google Books" section at the bottom of the google n-gram results page). I have deliberately omitted anything self-published or published by a vanity press:

enter image description here

"I couldn't summon the teenage photograph of Kaarina Doubek..." (from Little Liar by Clare Boyd)

"Maynard: It's a very prudish inhibited teenage photograph...."
Lucy: But, I thought you wanted shoulders..."
(from Communicating with Children and Their Families by Liz Davies)

"She glanced at Lily's teenage photograph, at her long raven hair and dark eyes...." (from Once a Rebel by Sheri WhiteFeather)

"Luke Baxter was the mirror image of Dayne, a younger version whose teenage photograph looked exacly the way he himself looked as a boy....," (from Reunion by Karen Kingsbury)

"Even in the early teen photo of him with his guitar during his street musician stage..." (from Hank Williams, So Lonesome by Bill Koon)

Finally, here is a stock photo of a 15-year old Marilyn Monroe, labeled by the stock photo company Alamy as a "Marilyn Monroe teenage photograph."

Incidentally, the same thing goes for pictures of a person as a baby. They're called baby pictures: A baby picture of Uncle James.

  • This is an amazing reference effort, bravo, BUT it's worth noting that every one of these is either a "headline format", not an actual sentence and not an utterance, or, is a "social media" post and hence by definition incredibly badly written / illiterate. For example "Teen Picture of Dora Doyle" (RIP, by the way) is a headline under a jpg image. So I found your answer very thought-provoking but there are some considerations.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 2 at 14:42
  • @Fattie. That's a fair critique. I've added to the post to try to correct that. Commented Jun 2 at 20:16
  • This answer is mind-blowing. It's one of the very few thought-provoking answers I ever did seen on this web site. I'm sending a bounty!
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 2 at 20:49
  • Hah! And further, your graph "proves" that it is a very recent phenomenon, ie, old people like me, who actually know how to speak and write, would never use it, disparage the usage.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 2 at 20:51
  • @Fattie. I'm 59 and still use the subjunctive mood. This is the first time I'm ever been accused of using a construction that is too modern! Being born in 1965, maybe I was influenced by artifacts originating in the peak between 1950 and 1960. Or by hearing the adults who grew up during that peak (my parents, aunts and uncles, and teachers...). While I don't fault the "photo of...as a teen" construction, the "a teenage photo of ..." expression feels much more prosodic to my ear. My dad also ran a photography studio for a while, so that may have something to do with it. Commented Jun 2 at 21:13

If you are referring to a baby called Mary, it is not unusual to call them Baby Mary, where Baby functions as a title, similar to Mister (adult male), Master (young male) or Miss (young female) and so on. So if you took a photo of Baby Mary, then you would have a photo of Baby Mary, just in the same way as if you took a photo of Mr Smith you could say you had a photo of Mr Smith.

It is not normal to refer to a teenager as teenager Clive or teenager Mary because teenager is not a title. The other age based titles Master Clive or Miss Mary used frequently by older generations when I was young (1970s) but they are not used much anymore. So you could say here's a photo of Mr and Mrs Smith, Miss Mary, Master Clive and Baby John but it would be a bit old-fashioned.

Mostly only Baby gets used as an age related title now-a-days here's a photo of Mr and Ms Smith, their kids Mary and Clive, and Baby John.

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