Chart of the Day

How many photos have ever been taken?

At the dawn of the new millennium a new technology (that Kodak itself invented) was reshaping the whole industry – the digital photo. When the first few hundred thousand digital cameras shipped in 1997 their memory was strictly limited (in fact cameras like the Sony Mavica took floppy disks!). Digital cameras are now ubiquitous – it is estimated that 2.5 billion people in the world today have a digital camera. If the average person snaps 150 photos this year that would be a staggering 375 billion photos. That might sound implausible but this year people will upload over 70 billion photos to Facebook, suggesting around 20% of all photos this year will end up there. Already Facebook’s photo collection has a staggering 140 billion photos, that’s over 10,000 times larger than the Library of Congress.

Even accounting for population growth the exponential growth of photos is incredible (we take 4 times as many photos as 10 year ago). Today every party, birthday, sports game and concert is documented in rich detail. The combination of all these photos is a rich portrait of today, the possibilities of which are illustrated by a tool like “The Moment”. As photos keep growing we take a clearer and clearer snapshot of our lives and world today – in total we have now taken over 3.5 trillion photos.

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