PetaPixel

Film Photography Peaked in 2000 with 85 Billion Photos Taken, Then Plummeted

Since photography emerged in the early 1800s, the number of photographs created every year has grown exponentially. A dramatic shift occurred around the year 2000 though:

Year after year these numbers grew, as more people took more photos – the 20th century was the golden age of analog photography peaking at an amazing 85 billion physical photos in 2000 — an incredible 2,500 photos per second [...] in total we have now taken over 3.5 trillion photos. The kind of photos we are taking has changed drastically – analog photos have almost disappeared – but the growth of photos continues.

This isn’t to say that analog photography is dead — billions of film photos were created last year alone, and enthusiasts will likely keep the medium strong for years to come — but, as you know, the consumer market has almost completely shifted over the digital in the past decade.

How many photos have ever been taken? [1000memories]


Image credit: Illustration by 1000memories and used with permission


 
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  • http://www.eriklaurikulo.se Erik Lauri Kulo

    That’s an impressive downfall. However, with Kodak actually reporting a slight increase in sales I’m staying hopeful. Some film photographers hate the hipster culture for ‘ruining’ the film photography genre – however, I can’t help but being thankful that these hipsters are buying so much film that they might just be saving the business. What they do with the film is up to them and in the end it helps all of us who are still doing film photography.

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    I agree — as long as people are buying film, that’s a GOOD thing :)

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    I agree — as long as people are buying film, that’s a GOOD thing :)

  • Rob-L

    2000 was when I bought my first digital camera. Sorry about that! :-)

  • Brandon

    yes.

  • Jj

    There will be demand in places such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, India etc where the computers needed to see digital photos are not so common or affordable. 

  • http://twitter.com/NotZura The End

    I only shoot digital for clients. For my personal stuff, it’s all film still.

  • Zack

    What amazes me is that the advent of digital didn’t change the shape of the curve of total pictures, it just followed the same trend it had been for nearly a century

  • Cedric Chone

    this curve seems way too clean and smooth and I would expect a much higher jump when the digital went main steam.

  • Cedric Chone

    this curve seems way too clean and smooth and I would expect a much higher jump when the digital went main steam.

  • sbfw

    Not sure what you are seeing Cedric.  Between 1990 and 2000 the total photos increased by 30b.  Between 2000 and 2011 it had increased by about 300b.  If you look at the history the rate (the exponential number) has been slowing from an increase of X^1.4 (1960-1970) to X^1.103 (1990-2000).  However, between 2000 and 2010 (easier for the math) it was X^1.333. If that number stays constant than in 2020 there would be 2.7 trillion photos produced.  If the number increases again by the same about it did between the last change (X^1.56) you would have 10.5 trillion photos.

  • http://twitter.com/omicronlyrae Oliver Lea

    Since the graph is exponential, it would be much more shocking if there /was/ a jump. For an exponential graph to have a jump is insane.

  • http://twitter.com/omicronlyrae Oliver Lea

    Since the graph is exponential, it would be much more shocking if there /was/ a jump. For an exponential graph to have a jump is insane.

  • http://twitter.com/omicronlyrae Oliver Lea

    Since the graph is exponential, it would be much more shocking if there /was/ a jump. For an exponential graph to have a jump is insane.

  • http://twitter.com/omicronlyrae Oliver Lea

    Since the graph is exponential, it would be much more shocking if there /was/ a jump. For an exponential graph to have a jump is insane.

  • http://twitter.com/omicronlyrae Oliver Lea

    Since the graph is exponential, it would be much more shocking if there /was/ a jump. For an exponential graph to have a jump is insane.

  • http://twitter.com/omicronlyrae Oliver Lea

    Since the graph is exponential, it would be much more shocking if there /was/ a jump. For an exponential graph to have a jump is insane.

  • http://twitter.com/omicronlyrae Oliver Lea

    Since the graph is exponential, it would be much more shocking if there /was/ a jump. For an exponential graph to have a jump is insane.

  • http://profiles.google.com/tian2992 Sebastian Oliva

    I’d rather have a curve with clearer data than this one with softened and lots of interpolation. The fact that it does not have a scale, makes it misleading

  • http://profiles.google.com/tian2992 Sebastian Oliva

    I’d rather have a curve with clearer data than this one with softened and lots of interpolation. The fact that it does not have a scale, makes it misleading

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1040840909 Shawn Whitaker

    having worked for the photo-finishing division of Kodak, I can attest that the late 90′s through 2001 were good times(business was good); but that changed dramatically and we closed nearly 40 facilities in the US between 2002 and 2003. there are now only a handful left. I really miss the days of processing Ektachrome. I had to retrain for a new field since 2003. Its just sad that with billions of photos taken, they’re only shared online(nothing tangible to put in your hand).