Around the world, people are taking more photos, with the global photo-taking total to reach an estimated 1.5 trillion photos in 2022, according to Rise Above Research, a consulting firm that provides market research for the digital imaging industry.
“We expect many people will be traveling, taking vacations, and holding events [with the lifting of pandemic-related restrictions],” said David Haueter, director and principal analyst at the firm. “This will lead to an 8% increase in photos taken this year.”
2022’s total number of photos taken equates to about 188 pictures per year for every man, woman, and child in the world, considering a global population of 7.95 billion in 2021. The new data clearly demonstrates two things: People around the world love taking photos — and the way we are taking photos continues to evolve and grow.
Here’s a sneak peek at key findings from the new photo data
- About half of the photos captured globally each year will be taken in the Asia-Pacific region.
- Smartphones’ share of all photos taken will grow to 94% by 2026.
- Almost 9 trillion unique digital photos will be stored on hard drives and other storage formats worldwide in 2022.
Photo-taking will continue to grow in 2022 and beyond
Rise Above Research also forecasted the total of photos taken to reach nearly 1.6 trillion in 2023. See details in the chart below.
Number of photos taken – 2021 to 2026:
Barring another catastrophic event like the Covid-19 pandemic, the research firm expects that the growth rate for photos taken each year will continue its positive trajectory for the next five years and beyond. In 2026, 1.98 trillion photos are forecasted to be taken.
Smartphones dominate, but cameras retain a devoted following
Smartphones have revolutionized our photo-taking habits: cameras are now at our fingertips at all times. During the rise of smartphones in the 2010s, people took seven times more photos (over 8.6 trillion) than were taken in the previous decade.
Mobile phones are now the dominant type of camera owned, with an installed base of around 3.3 billion worldwide, according to Rise Above Research. In 2021, smartphones accounted for 90% of the photos taken. That percentage is expected to grow from 91% in 2022 to 94% in 2026.
Digital cameras retain a dedicated following for photographing special events like weddings and important trips. Specialized camera lenses and accessories allow photo enthusiasts — including birders, wildlife and nature observers, scuba divers, and travelers — to capture impeccable images.
Still, cameras’ share of photos captured is expected to drop from 7.1% in 2021 to 4.3% in 2026, per Rise Above Research estimates. Finally, tablets, never used extensively for photography, will capture even fewer photos, dropping from 2.7% in 2021 to just 1.6% by 2026.
Photos taken by device – 2021 to 2026:
Where are the most photos taken?
In a reflection of global economic and population shifts, Asia Pacific will account for the majority of photos taken in the next five years. With the largest installed base of smartphones, this region will account for a 48% share of photos taken worldwide in 2021, but grow to 51% in 2026.
The rest of the world will see its share of photos taken drop slightly or remain stable according to Rise Above Research projections. For instance, Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) will see its combined share fall from just over 29% in 2021 to less than 28% in 2026. North America (U.S. and Canada) will decrease from 12% in 2021 to around 11% in 2026. Japan and Latin America will remain in the 3% and 8% range, respectively, throughout the forecast period.
Photos taken by region – 2021 to 2026:
What to do with all these photos?
We are taking more photos and videos than ever before. The desire to record, remember, and share special moments of our lives is a wonderful thing. Still, the explosive growth in photo-taking presents some practical challenges.
What are people doing with ever-expanding collections of higher-resolution, larger image files?
Sure enough, Rise Above Research projects a significant jump in our photo storage needs, with nearly 9 trillion unique digital photos stored on hard drives and other storage formats in 2022. This year’s total number is actually closer to 16 trillion photos when backup copies are included. That’s because many smartphones have a cloud backup feature and digital camera photos tend to be stored in more than one place. The number of unique digital photos saved is expected to grow to nearly 13.6 trillion by 2026.
Number of photos stored – 2021 to 2026:
Organizing and easily accessing your photos is as important as storage and backup
Far from going out of style, photos are more central to our society than ever. Today, billions of photos are shared on social media and other communications — including texting photos as a way to connect with friends and family. Commercially, images have become inputs for artificial intelligence algorithms, augmented reality applications, and more. Finally, photos will always be treasured for their role in memory keeping, documentation, and sharing with future generations.
As we accumulate greater numbers of personal and professional image files, having a photo organization tool you can rely on becomes even more valuable. If you’d like to maintain privacy and control over all your media, we encourage you to try the Mylio Photos app.
Learn how our unique technology makes it easy to organize and protect your visual life story in one easy-to-search library you can access on all your devices. We invite you to download the app now to try it for yourself.
Data Source: “Rise Above Research 2022 Worldwide Image Capture Forecast”
Read our “How Many Photos Will Be Taken in 2021” post.
Susan Enfield is a Boulder, Colorado-based writer who covers healthy lifestyle, outdoors, food, and travel. She first fell for photography in the darkroom developing shots from a Nikon F-50 and has now happily surrendered to the ease of her iPhone 11.