Swimming in the oceans of digital photos

Estimates peg the peak of film photography at 80n in 1999. Has the rise of digital completely swamped that number? Oh, yes.

Here’s a useful addendum to last week’s post about photography in the digital age. Ben Evans has done some back-of-the-envelope calculations about the volume of photos being produced this year:

Hence, at least 2 trillion photos will be shared this year, and possibly 3 trillion or more. Spread across roughly 2bn smartphone users, that’s only 2-3 photos per day per person, which is not so extraordinary, and of course use is not actually spread evenly, so there’s room in that number for some people to be sharing lots and others none.

By way of comparison, during the peak of the film age, 80bn photos were shot in 1999.

This underlines two things:

  1. The format of photography has changed: digital now completely dominates
  2. The scale of photography has changed. We’re seeing more images shot per week than were shot in a year 16 years ago.

And this shift creates opportunities for new businesses to arise. It’s certainly arguable that the rise of messaging apps, especially the newer breed like Snapchat, is predicated on this.

I wonder what else companies will figure out to do with that vast volume of images?