This year, a post-pandemic spike in photo-taking led to an estimated 1.4 trillion photos taken globally, fueled by a return to activities like vacations, sports, and family gatherings. So how many photos will be taken in 2022 and beyond? 

The overall growth trend for photo-taking will continue in 2022 but at a more moderate rate — reaching 1.5 trillion photos worldwide — according to Rise Above Research, a consulting firm that provides market research for the digital imaging industry. “That’s mainly because of the chip shortage issue that has led to a shortage in new smartphones and camera sales,” said David Haueter, director and principal analyst at the firm.

To put a trillion in perspective: If you took one photo per second, getting to 1 trillion would take nearly 32,000 years. With a global population of 7.9 billion people (not all of whom take pictures) these colossal numbers clearly demonstrate how much people love taking photos.

Photo-taking will continue to grow in 2022 and beyond

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Rise Above Research also forecasted the total of photos taken to reach over 1.6 trillion in 2023. See details in the chart below.

Projected number of photos taken 2021 to 2023:

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Smartphones are winning. But cameras remain a major player.

The world’s population took over 8.6 trillion photos between 2010 and 2019 — seven times more than was taken in the previous decade. It’s no coincidence that the widespread adoption of smartphones coincides with this photo explosion.

Mobile phones’ share of total photos worldwide is estimated to rise from an impressive 90% in 2021 to over 93% in 2023, according to Rise Above Research. Video is now a bigger part of the image-capture mix, particularly among younger adults and teens, said Haueter.

Digital cameras also retain a loyal following among people who enjoy taking photos as artistic expression or a companion to a passionate hobby. For instance, powerful, specialized camera lenses and accessories allow birders, wildlife and nature observers, scuba divers, and travelers to capture impeccable images that would not be possible with a phone.

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Photo credit: J.C. Figueroa

Social media fuels photo-taking

Got great photos or videos of your family, fur babies, or vacation fun? The itch to share these pics with our network is real. “Humans are social creatures and connections so sharing of stories and capturing memories are big drivers behind photo-taking,” said the Rise Above Research team.

In 2021, monthly users of social networks in the U.S. grew at less than half the pace during 2020, when stay-at-home orders caused more people to turn to social media, according to eMarketer. However, adult users are still spending more time on social media than they did before the pandemic. In 2021, adult users spend an average of one hour and 35 minutes per day, a 13-minute increase over 2020.

By far the fastest-growing platforms this year: TikTok, the short-form video app, and Reddit, a discussion and social news aggregation website. In September 2021, TikTok announced 1 billion monthly active users, up 900% from 100 million monthly active U.S. users in August 2020. 

Photo-focused Instagram remains a major influence behind photo-taking and -sharing habits with an estimated 1.39 billion users as of Q3 2021. Facebook maintains its largest-network spot with more than 3.5 billion users as of Q2 2021, but its growth slowed to 0.8%, eMarketer reports.

What’s the best way to manage all these photos?

Now that we’re taking more photos and making more videos than ever before, it’s natural to wonder, What are people doing with a growing number of higher-resolution, larger image files? Sure enough, Rise Above Research projects a significant increase in our photo storage needs, with photos stored expanding from more than 7.8 trillion this year to nearly 10 trillion in 2023.

Projected number of photos stored – 2021 to 2023:

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These growing collections of visual content will need to be stored somewhere. At the same time, the need for a reliable photo organization tool is more urgent. If privacy and control over your photos is important to you, we encourage you to try Mylio. Mylio makes it easy to organize, manage, and protect your visual life story the right way. You can try out Mylio for free: download the app now.

Data Source: “Rise Above Research 2021 Worldwide Image Capture Forecast.”