...Than in the entire history of photographing on sensitized substrates (i.e., film and plates).
That's the conclusion reached by blogger Benedict Evans, who works for Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley that invests in technology companies. He writes about "what's going on and what will happen next." In a post that he notes is an exercise in "how one can try to reach approximate estimates in the absence of solid data," he concludes that "at least two trillion photos will be shared this year, and possibly three trillion or more. Spread across roughly two billion smartphone users, that's only 2–3 photos per day per person, which is not so extraordinary...."
That's only the number of photos that will be shared, so the number of photographs taken will naturally be significantly more than that. (I don't know about you, but I share considerably less than 1% of the photos I take.) He claims (without naming sources) that estimates of all the photographs ever taken on film are in the 2.5–3.5 trillion range. Hence, as mentioned above, "more photos will be taken this year than were taken on film in the entire history of the analogue camera business."
Reminds me of John Szarkowski's old, but unprovable, more rhetorical formulation: "There are more photographs in the world than bricks." One day there might be more photographs than grains of sand.
(Thanks to Isaac)
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Featured Comments from:
Mark McCormick-Goodhart: "I think a little mental math is all that is needed to prove this milestone in photographic history probably occurred several years ago. Given that the film era of consumer photography started more or less in the 1890s with the introduction of the Kodak Brownie camera and pretty much died circa 2006 when smartphones and Facebook exploded in the consumer market, we only need a current year count to match approximately the prior summed up count for merely 110 years of consumer photography, i.e., 110:1. Now consider that one or two orders of magnitude more consumers participate in photography today and on a daily basis compared to the film era, and that amateur photographers have always been the dominant creators of photos. Yet unlike today they typically documented only special events during the film era and with only a few rolls of film processed per year. Hence, it's pretty much a done deal that we quickly blew past this 'more photos than ever existed before' milestone in photo history fairly early on in the digital era.
"My guess is that we did it in the first year the Internet, social media, and mobile phones with cameras mesmerized the consumer's market. That was probably between 2006 to 2008. Add to the consumer photo count all the security cameras that have been installed during the last two decades which capture photos automatically each and every second of the day, and it wasn't as high a bar to cross as it sounds at first blush."
Albert Macfarlane: "Lots of others have commented on the sheer volume of pictures taken, and I want to modestly point out that I have calculated that there are now more single images than the human race can ever look at (making some assumptions about looking at still images so you can perhaps realize what they are showing). See here."