Thursday, September 29, 2011

How Many Photos Have Ever Been Taken?

There are some questions that are unanswerable. What is love? How do you make a hit? How many people have inhabited out planet from the beginning of time? How much water is in the oceans of the world?

While we don't know exactly, we do have a fair idea regarding the number of pictures that have been taken in the history of photography. How is that? Well, considering that the art has only been around for about 200 years or so, it's a pretty recent development in human history, and fairly well documented. That said, with the proliferation of cameras in just about every camera, picture taking has grown exponentially, and I'll show you some graphs that will blow your mind in a minute.

First, here are some interesting stats to set the stage:
  • From all the photos taken up until about 1960, it's estimated that 55% of the photos were of babies.
  • The 20th century was the golden age of analog photography, peaking at an amazing 85 billion physical photos in 2000, which turns out to be an incredible 2,500 photos per second.
  • It's estimated that 2.5 billion people in the world today have a digital camera (out of 7 billion).
  • If the average person snaps 150 photos this year, that would amount to a staggering 375 billion photos.
  • People will upload over 70 billion photos to Facebook, suggesting around 20% of all photos this year will end up there.
  • Facebook’s photo collection has a staggering 140 billion photos. That's over 10,000 times larger than the Library of Congress!
  • It's estimated that we humans have now taken over 3.5 trillion photos!
  • Ten percent of all the photos we have were taken in the past 12 months!
The point here is that picture taking is so easy these days, you should never hesitate to take one. The number of times I wish I had a picture of something in the past is way too frequent, and it's usually something I could've used in a book to illustrate a point.

Below are a couple of graphics that will blow your mind. For more info as well as the references for the figures above, click here.

Number of Photos image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
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