About a month ago, I was running into a bit of a roadblock. I wanted to pull all of my photos from Flickr, and put them somewhere else. Not necessarily to share with other people, but to store and display them for myself, my closest friends, and family.

The best solution I’ve seen by far is YCombinator startup Snapjoy, a company founded by Michael Dwan and JP Ren, and which is currently in private beta.

The other issue that Snapjoy addresses is that I constantly fear that I’ll have a hard drive failure and lose my photos. I know that there are a lot of solutions such as Box.net or Dropbox for file backups, but I see photo hosting as a completely different beast. I want to view them wherever they are hosted. Easily. Snapjoy does an amazing job at automatically categorizing your photos into a timeline as well as giving you a few neat features to view random photos. The fact that the app is gorgeously designed certainly doesn’t hurt either.

Uploading your photos

Uploading photos to Snapjoy couldn’t be easier. You can upload them through the site itself, or use its Mac OS X app ‘Shoebox‘ to upload photos in bulk. The uploading process is quick, as Snapjoy hosts files on Amazon’s cloud service. Photo processing and categorization is also done on the fly, so once you return to the site, your photos are all in place.

Snapjoy   Upload 520x309 Snapjoy wants to store and categorize all of your photos online [invites]

Viewing your photos

This is where Snapjoy really shines. Each photo you upload has meta data attached to it. The photo provides Snapjoy with key information, such as the time and date it was taken. Rather than make you create sets of photos, Snapjoy automatically places these photos into a timeline, based on the time and date attached to the photo. It’s smart, and just works.

Snapjoy   2007 520x294 Snapjoy wants to store and categorize all of your photos online [invites]

I have to think that Facebook took some cues from Snapjoy, because the timeline view to check out your past is so smart, it makes photo viewing effortless. Viewing my photos from 2007 on Flickr required me to either find a set that I had created, or click back in time. Much like Apple, Snapjoy just wants you to enjoy your media.

You do have the option to share photos with friends, but you must enter them one at a time using their email address. I don’t use the service for mass sharing, so that’s OK with me. However, the company assures me that it is adding easier sharing and privacy features, as it’s something that Snapjoy beta users have asked for.

Remember when: The killer feature

As I’ve mentioned, it’s often the little features that really make a service unique and enjoyable to use, and ‘Remember when’ is Snapjoys killer feature for me. Every time you load Snapjoy, a random photo in your timeline shows up and you can click to view it. Once you do, you’re given an option to click ‘Shuffle”, and you can then shuffle through as many photos as you like randomly. It’s like taking a random walk down memory lane. If you have a lot of photos like I do (14,888 currently), you could spend hours doing this.

Snapjoy   Nostalgia 520x310 Snapjoy wants to store and categorize all of your photos online [invites]

The Snapjoy team was gracious enough to provide us with an exclusive set of 250 invites to the service for The Next Web readers. Go get your Snapjoy account now. The invites are first come, first serve. The service is free to use, but once it institutes a pay model, the company will charge for storage used over a certain limit. More than likely I’ll be one of those people, and that’s fine with me.

The service feels like an Apple product, and if you took the Snapjoy logo off of it, I would think that it’s an Apple cloud photo sharing service. Hopefully Apple pays attention to what’s going on here.

If you miss out on one of the invites, there’s a public demo of the site right here