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More photographs taken in one year than in the entire history of film

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 Photo Leica D-Lux (Typ 109), Mike Evans
Photo Leica D-Lux (Typ 109), Mike Evans

According to estimates made by Benedict Evans, more photographs will be taken this year than in the entire history of film photography. Ben makes clear that there are no easy statistics, but he has extrapolated what we do know. For instance social networks now share enormous numbers of photographs and statistics are available. 

Facebook, Snapchat and WhatsApp together handled around 1.5 trillion pictures last year and it is easy to see this figure ballooning to over 2 trillion, possibly even to 3 trillion in 2015. These figures are for shared photographs on specific networks and don’t take into account other web sites or photographs which are never shared. Even I, just one photographer, manage to capture around 20,000 images a year. It doesn’t take much extrapolation to reach dizzying figures when all the millions of smartphone users are added into the mix.

But how many photographs were taken on film during the 150-year supremacy of the art? Ben tells us that estimates range from 2.5 to 3.5 trillion. So it is quite possible that in 2015 alone there will be more photography taking place than in the entire history of film.

It’s a sobering thought. But it is impossible to get accurate figures for the past. Ben readily admits that his interesting analysis is “a discussion of how one can try to reach approximate estimates in the absence of solid data”. 

Read Ben’s article here