Reconnect with Friends for their Birthday with Personalized Sepia Life Birthday Cards

facebook_wish_happy_birthday The all too familiar message from Facebook, reminding us to wish our friend a happy birthday, and send them a gift as well.  That followed by a Facebook wall filled with ‘Happy Birthday Todd!”   Facebook has succeeded in training us humans to respond with what could be an automated response to wish our friend a happy birthday.

How meaningful are these happy birthday messages?  Personally, it doesn’t mean a whole lot.  The people who care about me show me in much more personal and meaningful ways than how dozens of other not-so-close friends do with their ‘Happy Birthday’ post on my wall.

Giving a friend a gift on their birthday is great, if it is something you want to do. I doubt that it requires birthday_card_emailFacebook prompting you to do that though before you go through with it for a friend you really care about.  Often we may not send a gift, but a birthday card is nice.   There are countless sites online for finding and sending birthday cards to friends.  Many are sincere, some are funny, make jokes about getting old, but just about all of them lack a visual personal touch.

Sepia Life just launched a new service for sending a friend a birthday card in the mail. The front of the card is a photo or collage of photos of you and your friend. Two weeks before your friend’s birthday, Sepia Life will send you an email with a collage of photos and a selection of photos of the times you and your friend spent together.  Choose the collage or one of the photos to send on the birthday card to your friend, with a personal message on the back.  Its personal, its easy, and it brings back memories of the good times you’ve had with your friend.  Cards are free while this service is in beta.  So learn more and sign up for Sepia Life now to give it a try the next time one of your friends has a birthday.


A new way of finding photos for throwback Thursday, Sepia

A few blog posts ago I talked about the Facebook page for viewing your relationship with a friend.  While that is a fun pivot and experience to look at old photos, it takes some initiative to decide you want to go there.  You probably aren’t going to do it unless you have a very specific reason to go there, beyond just wanting to feel nostalgic about the past.   For pretty much every photo solution out there, it requires you to take the initiative to search for what you to look for.

I love looking at my photos from the past.  I actually don’t even care which photos I see, so long as there are photos I care about.  As simple as it sounds, making a decision to spend some time to look at photos, figure out where they are stored, and search to find some photos requires too much brainpower and time.  That probably makes me sound lazy, but with 2 young kids, time is precious.  Spending even a couple minutes to find some photos to look at for just a minute or so, is a horrible ratio of work/enjoyment.   I want work to be 0, and enjoyment to be off the charts because I just spent a minute looking at a couple photos from the camping trip we did a few years ago, or the dinner we had with friends.  Throwback Thursday (TBT), which I blogged about a few weeks ago, is becoming increasingly popular.  For good reason too!  It is fun to look at old photos.  But again, finding these photos is a bit of a time consuming process.

Being a developer, I’ve though a lot about what could be built to help bring this work/enjoyment ratio to what I want it to be.  Over a decade ago my friend Tom and I built a photo web site we used for our photos and our friends photos.


This is pre-Flickr days and pretty much every other photo web site that we know of today.  Perhaps we should have quit our day jobs and built a business out of our site given how much our friends and family loved it, but that is a whole different story.  One of the best features of our photo site, was receiving an email every day you or your friends had photos from that day in past years.  I get a great set of photos sent to me, and all I have to do is enjoy them, perfect!  Quite often, there would be a fun dialog back and forth with friends about the good times we had together.

Tom and I shut down our web site a number of years ago because our time was needed elsewhere.  Fast forward to today, I’ve been back on the hunt to solve this problem.  With a very different landscape from the early 2000s, the most natural place it seemed to start was with Facebook.  It is perhaps the largest, if not the largest photo repository on the internet.  There are enormous amounts of metadata associated with photos to aid in finding photos.  Facebook knows who your friends are, who your close friends are, and who your family members are.  The possibilities for the ways I could use this information to build great experiences for people to enjoy photos makes my mind run wild.  So I got to work on building Sepia. Essentially, Sepia is currently a modern version of the emails the photo site Tom and I made.  Sepia leverages all the great data to send you a selection of photos from you and your friends on this day in history.  You can share the photos with friends and reminisce about the past.  Sepia isn’t along in trying to help people enjoy their photos. The once very promising startup Everpix introduced flashback emails, one of their most popular features.

Sepia isn’t only aware of this day in history.  You know how Facebook asks you to wish your friends a happy birthday and to send them a gift?  Sepia will find all the photos of the times you and your friend spent together and send you a personalized collage on their birthday.

I’ve been working on Sepia for quite a few months now, getting feedback from early users.  While it is still in its early stages (beta), I want many more people to be able to enjoy what I’ve built.  So I’ve decided to open up Sepia for anyone to sign up.  Just go to to sign up.  After that, tell your friends.  Since Sepia is still in beta, I’m working hard and fast to improve it.  There may be glitches, but I’ll fix them fast.  If you have feedback good or bad, please send it to me.

As one of my friends put it, “These daily photo flashbacks make me so happy!”

The pace of life only seems to be getting faster and faster.  These moments of taking a step back and reflecting on the past are becoming more and more meaningful to me.  Give Sepia a try, and love your photos again for throwback thursday, or any day