From Kodak Brownie to Instagram

Photos are memories of holidays and parties, of people and places.

The explosion of cameras and places to share them means that our lives today are documented, not by an occasional oxidizing of silver halide but constantly recorded with GPS coordinates and time stamps.

  • How many “Kodak memories” has humanity recorded?
  • How fast are we snapping photos today?
  • And how many of these treasured memories are confined to our shoeboxes as lost relics of a pre-digital era?

quantify how many analog photos humans habe taken, there is a surprising dearth of direct data, but we can make some reasonable estimates.

It is safe to say that at most a few million photos were snapped before the invention of the first consumer camera – Kodak Brownie in 1902

throughout this period, photos became more and more mass-market, by 1960 it is estimated that 55% of photos were of babies.

from 1984 onwards the Silver Institute and PMIA published estimates of how many physical photos the world was snapping each year

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.

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.

digital cameras are now ubiquitous, it is estimated that 2.5 billion people in the work today have a digital cameras. if the average person snaps 150 photos this year that would be a staggering 375 billion photos.

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.

The world's largest photo libraries

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.

The kind of photos we are taking has changed drastically – analog photos have almost disappeared – but the growth of photos continues.

Photos taken by year, film and digital

it is easy to forget that the shoebox or album of old photos we have at home is incredibly fragile and special.

Every 2 minutes today we snap as many photos as the whole of humanity took in the 1800s, in face, 10% of all the photos were taken in the past 12 months.

and yet, there are still more physical photos hidden in our shoeboxes, hanging on our walls or lost in an album than there are digital photos littering our hard drive.

These precious photos of the past 200 years tell us who we are and where we come from. So grab hold of that photo of you as a kid or of your grandparents’ wedding and realize just how special it is.

This post is from 1000memories:

“Shoebox puts a scanner in your pocket. Just take a picture of an old paper photo with your iPhone camera, and our Grizzly Labs edge detection and perspective-correction technology will make sure that the paper photographs you scan turn out beautifully.”

“You can record the stories behind the photographs by adding captions, dates, and location as well as tagging your relatives and friends; you can also invite others to view them and share their own photos.”


Image quality is measured using resolution (DPI or dots per inch).



Dine and Wine

photograph everything he has eaten in the last five years

JAVIER GARCIA, a 28-year-old neuroscientist at the University of California, Irvine, Every other week he posts the photos on his Web site,,

In 1825, the French philosopher and gourmand Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”

Keeping a photographic food diary is a growing phenomenon with everything from truffle-stuffed suckling pig to humble bowls of Cheerios being captured and offered for public consumption.


One of the largest and most activeFlickr groups, called “I Ate This,” includes more than 300,000 photos that have been contributed by more than 19,000 members.

There would be more, but members are limited to 50 photos a month. The same phenomena can be found on other sites like TwitterFacebookMySpace, Foodspotting,Shutterfly, Chowhound and FoodCandy.

Photos are also a means of self-motivation for Mr. Garcia, who began photographing his food after he lost 80 pounds. “It’s definitely part of my neuroticism about trying to keep thin,” he said. “It keeps you accountable because you don’t want to have to see that you ate an entire jar of peanut butter.”

Pamela Hollinger, 36, an independent radio programmer and announcer in Stephenville, Tex., said her husband of eight years is resigned to her taking pictures of her food. “When we were dating, it was like, ‘What are you doing?’ ” she said. “Now it’s a quirk he’s come to accept.”

Photographing meals becomes pathological, however, if it interferes with careers or relationships or there’s anxiety associated with not doing it

Unlike a picture of a flower or friend, a picture of a meal recalls something smelled, touched, tasted and ultimately ingested. Carl Rosenberg, 52, a Web site developer who divides his time among San Francisco; Austin, Tex.; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, photographs his food along the way with a Nikon D3.

“You have more of a direct connection with your food, so it forms a more essential memory of an occasion,” he said. He often places a small stuffed animal, a sheep, which he calls the Crazy Sheep, next to his food before taking a picture; reminiscent of the globe-trotting garden gnome in the French film “Amélie.”

“I think photographing food is a more accurate way to document life,” said Mr. Rosenberg, who shares photos with family and friends but does not post them. “Food isn’t going to put on a special face when you take a picture of it.”



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