There has been one item on almost every to-do list for the past three years, chances are you have a similar one on yours — or at least the thought in the back of your mind. “I need to organize and back up all my photos and videos.”

You with me? Good, keep reading:

Since you’re still with me, chances are the thought of backing up and organizing all your photos fills you with a certain sense of panic or doom. For me, it’s the fact that I use 5+ devices to take photos and videos which makes the task — in a word — monumental. While my DSLR photos are really well organized, my phone and point and shoot cameras usually just end up getting their memory dumped in a folder appropriately named “Phone Dump” with the intention of going through them later. (Later has yet to happen.)

I upload a lot of photos to Flickr, which is considered my back up of a back up, but I haven’t established a very efficient way of searching them and at the rate they change their desktop site around and the lack of functionality with their mobile app, I’ve been left using a few choice words in Flickr’s direction here recently. I also have two external hard drives, one dedicated to photos, the other for weekly backups of my entire computer. Again, I have all my photos in each location but there just isn’t a very good way to search or browse them (despite being fairly well organized in tidy little folders.)

Enter ThisLife, a new service from Shutterfly.

Used in conjunction with (or without) your Shutterfly account, it backs up and organizes all your photos from all your devices without much effort beyond setting it up. I downloaded the desktop uploader to get all the photos and videos on my hard drive taken care of and I used the mobile app to make sure every image from my phone was uploaded into my account as well. (In the words of Shutterfly “Go from photo mess to photo bliss.”)

I have considerably slow Internet at home and it took nearly 5 straight days of uploading to get all 29,000+ photos and videos into my account. While it may have seemed slow as molasses, I didn’t really have to do anything but wait for it to finish. Want to know how long it would have taken me to upload and organize all those photos on my own? Way more than 5 days, that’s all I’m saying. If you do decide to give ThisLife a shot and it is slow and/or looks like it isn’t uploading anything at all? It is. I know because I emailed the lovely people from Shutterfly a whole lot and because photos kept showing up even when the upload process had seemed to stop completely. (I kept telling myself “Twenty-thousand is a lot. Twenty-thousand is a lot.”)


ThisLife will scan all of your photos for faces and let you tag them, so you get a folder for each of the people you like the most featuring their wonderful faces. And this isn’t some wimpy face detection either, it was spot on 90% of the time. (However, if you have twins or a lot of different babies photos it may have a bit more difficulty.) It will also read any pertinent date, location and tagging information for another way to browse your photos.


My most favorite feature is the mobile app, I can get to any photo I’ve ever taken over the past 14 years in just a few seconds from any of my devices.

What was going on one year ago? This:

one year ago

What did Addie look like when she was Vivi’s age? Like this:

addie at vivi

I need a picture of Vivi making a goofy face. Done:

goofy vivi face

Now that all my photos are organized and uploaded, I don’t fear something happening to my phone or computer (as much) because my photos are set to upload automatically. Now that all my photos are organized, the idea of making a chronological photo book is actually enjoyable rather than stress inducing. (And you can do it straight from ThisLife through Shutterfly.)

ThisLife 2

My photographic life has been made infinitely easier, and for the amount of photos I have taken/will take that is a huge statement. I don’t know how long it would have taken me to hear about ThisLife if it weren’t for them contacting me, so I’m so happy I can tell you about it now, just in case you have the lingering cloud of “organize all the photos” over your head.

I’m giving away a one year standard subscription (25,000 photos or up to 100GB plus HD video, worth $59) of ThisLife to one of you, to help chase away the fear of something happening to all your photos and squash the lack-of-organization guilt. (A premium plan that allows storage for 100,000 photos (or 400GB) is $159 annually, a free plan allows storage of 2,500 photos with no video.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Find four other chances to win from Sarah, Aimee, Kristen, and Amy.

Disclosure: Special thanks to ThisLife by Shutterfly for sponsoring this post. All opinions (as usual!) are my own.


  1. I actually don’t have to think how many I have to organize. I know. I have over 26,000 files. I actually had it cut down to about 20k, but then I unloaded my phone and took more pictures and…yeah. I was doing really well organizing/cleaning out photos a couple of months ago but then…life. So fingers crossed!

  2. I can’t wait to try ThisLife to organize all my photos! I don’t actually know how many, but I think it’s in the 10-15k range. Fingers crossed!

  3. Betsy partridge says:

    There’s 700 on my phone…plus my husbands phone…plus our computer!

  4. I am guessing 10,000 photos? So many it seems like!

  5. What perfect timing! Regardless of whether I win, I’m going to be trying this out. I have just reached low capacity on my external hard drive. I have about 35gb of pictures. I’m not too sure how much of that is video.
    The first 5 years of my daughters life is organized by year and month. The remaining years I put in the hands of iPhoto and it doesn’t organize as well as Adobe from the back end. In other words, it is impossible to find photos.

  6. Hilary Kizilski says:

    I am so excited about this. I have been putting this off for over five years (since my daughter was born). I keep saying I am going to organize them, but the thought is so overwhelming i just never do it. I easily have over 20,000! Thank you!!

  7. Maybe like 1500? A lot!

  8. Top of my to-do list this week is to get my backup drive up and running again! I’m jealous of your backup system. 🙂 I would guess somewhere in the range of 10-12K is how many photos I have sitting on my hard drive. Yikes!

  9. Around 15,000 and, even though I back-up, I’m still worried about loosing them. This sounds perfect!!!

  10. The sheer number of photos I have is overwhelming. The thought of naming all my files and uploading them literally haunts my dreams because I know it’s going to have to be done- but it sure won’t be fun!

  11. Organizing my photos has been on my to-do list for so long, but the task feels overwhelming.

  12. This is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! I need it. I will be looking into this ASAP.

  13. I really need to organize my photos and want to create yearly photo books. This looks easy and I will definitely give it a try.

  14. Rachel Micko says:

    Not sure about number of photos but have maybe 100gb

  15. Jill Saunders says:

    I can’t even guess how many – 10 years of marriage and 3+ years of my daughter’s life. Too many to count! Pick me, pick me…

  16. I’m not sure how many I have – not nearly as many as you though! I love the idea of having the pictures from all our devices in one place. That’s definitely what I need to give me the motivation to “do” something with the pictures

  17. Love the idea!

  18. Oh wow. I’m not even sure. I’m going to guess somewhere close to 10,000 probably. My oldest is almost 9 and we have pictures from her as a baby still on older phones that aren’t probably organized. BAD!!!

  19. I have way too many photos to organize…mostly all before Delaney was born. All of Sam’s babyhood is a huge mess & I don’t know if I’ll ever get it sorted out!

  20. Ok, this is something I NEED. My photos are organized by month/year, but that is it. The facial recognition thing? That would be AMAZING!

  21. Seriously. I think everyday “I NEED to back up my photos” between our cameras and out phones we easily have 10k (of good ones. Prob more like 20k of everyday shots). This would be a lifesaver!!!

  22. Currently we do by month within the year and dslr vs iPhone. Scares the poo outta me. No clue how many

  23. Chrysta Richards says:

    Carbonite says that I have upwards of 15k photos backed up on their servers. My husband has thousands more work photos of teeth he’s fixed on his laptop. We both need a way to find what we’re after, and the organizer in Photoshop Elements is a lot of work. Question: when ThisLife does the initial scan for photos to back up, will it pull in clip art, album covers, and the like?

  24. Just thinking about the state of my photos gives me hives.

  25. I think I have somewhere in the range of 10,000 photos plus about 100 videos. I have 2 external backups right now but nothing cloud based. This is a very cool product!

  26. I’m so glad you posted about this, because I’ve been having mini-panic attacks about getting the photos on my phone stored and organized. My memory is full, thanks to my trip to Spain. I’d be so sad if I lost them. I’d seen rumblings about ThisLife, but wasn’t sure what it was all about. I have close to 6000 photos on flickr (and amen to them changing it ALL the time), hundreds on my phone, and 5 years worth on an external hard drive.

  27. I have so many pictures from different computers, different cameras and of course my phone-I take so many pictures on my phone!!! I will definitely be looking into this- regardless of whether I win or not!!

  28. This is EXACTLY what I need. I prob have 10k.

  29. This is exactly what I need.

  30. I don’t know the exact number, but we have filled up a macmini harddrive + 2 iphones + 1 ipad–its a heck of a lot! I need this deperately ; )

  31. Emily Johnson says:

    Your post couldn’t have come at a better time. I just realized that my photos were taking up almost 65 GB of space on my computer. I need to clean it off and this could be the perfect solution!

  32. I probably have about 10,000 photos i need to back-up – WHOA! Thanks for the info. on ThisLife!!!

  33. I have no idea how many photos I have, just thinking about that is overwhelming let alone actually organizing them! I have tried many different approaches to making it easy to find my precious photos but I still find myself taking way too long to find specific photos. I have three external hard drives and a nearly full iMac ????

  34. The 50K pics on my macbook pro that I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with and how to not overload the new imac but still have my pics available… yeah. This would be brilliant.

  35. I really want to win this for myself, as my computer is on it’s last legs and I don’t know what to do about all my photos. On the other hand, I want to be a good daughter and give this to my father if I win, as he’s the one who got me into photography in the first place. Maybe I’ll buy it for him for Christmas either way.

  36. I need this! My laptop is crashing under the weight of my photos.

  37. Please! Me! I need help!

  38. I have a ton. And our external hard drive is acting stupid, so I have to figure out how to get them off there. It’s making me ragey!

  39. DUDE. I need… and will probably purchase if I don’t win 🙂

  40. Oh man, thousands and thousands. The number jumped significantly when I finally got a smart phone.

  41. It’s fun “working” with you again friend! xo

  42. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a friend who had been doing a little
    homework on this. And he actually bought me breakfast because I discovered
    it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!!

    But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk about this subject here on your web

  43. On this computer? Maybe 600 photos need to be organized better. Plus about 50 videos. Oy.

  44. Oh, I am getting on this now!! I have this horrible problem too! My folder is called “Phone Dump >!!

  45. Amber Bachura says:

    This was literally the next thing on my to-do list. How did you know? Thanks for the tip. Now to get a company to scan all of the paper ones from pre-digital days (I know, I’m old). Any suggestions for that?

  46. I bet I have about 10,000 photos to organize.

  47. Oh my goodness. I have a ton of pictures I need to organize.

  48. Zomg, like, a million? At least.


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