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 www.sepialife.com 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


Timeline of you and a friend on Facebook

In my search to find different ways I could view my photos from years gone by, I stumbled upon a well hidden feature in Facebook, Friendship Pages.   As far as I can tell, the feature was quietly released over 3 years ago in a Facebook blog post.  A Friendship Page is a timeline view of you and one of your friends, containing all the interactions you’ve had together on Facebook.  For example, a photo you are both in, or one of you is in a photo the other posted in Facebook.  There is a convenient link on the left that will let you see a album like view of all the photos of you and your friend.  The feature goes beyond photos into posts and other interactions people can have on Facebook.

Apparently at one point users could get to this page by a link on the sidebar in a friend’s timeline.  Not super convenient, but discoverable for those glancing around.  Now, the feature is hidden away under a gear icon which brings up a menu, containing a link to the feature.  This pretty much guarantees next to no one will ever find the feature.

See Friendship

Notice what else is in this menu?  The long forgotten Poke!  When was the last time you saw a Poke used? Its been a long time for me.  This menu is one of many places where features go to die on Facebook.  It’s a shame.  The Friendship view is a nice way to look back in time at the the relationship you have with another person, in the virtual world at least.

Throwback Thursday

#TBT, #tbt, @ThrowbackThursday.  All variations on people digging deep into their photo archives searching for an interesting photo from days gone by.  I’ve been quite impressed with the number of photos I’ve seen from people that were taken before the age of digital photos.  This takes some effort to get the photos digitized and shared online.

Here is a photo I used for #tbt last week.  A picture from 2 years ago of my son pulling his older sister’s hair.  I commented that I was glad he was done with hair pulling now, only to see him pulling his sisters hair again 3 days later.  He’s growing up, but not out of the hair pulling phase yet I guess!

Hair pulling!

Hair pulling!

The potential of finding these photos in these modern days of digital photos all around us is so much easier, yet something many of us rarely do.  Many social networking sites and apps focus on the photos that friends and fans have recently posted.  For photos you have digitized, how do you find them when yearning for a blast form the past?