In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re awash in photos. Whether it’s the number of new photos uploaded to Instagram (150 per second), the number of photos on Facebook (approx. 90 billion) or Flickr (approx. 6 billion), or the number of megapixels in the next iPhone camera, seems like everyone is talking about photos. And investing in the category – photosharing is one of the hottest categories for VC investment this year.
People are taking pictures of all kinds of things…pets, food, family, friends, everything and nothing. (Like my Instgram photo of the Bay Bridge in the rain on October 6, 2011 above). Virtually all are taken on digital cameras or mobile phones making their uploading and sharing much easier than photos taken in the more traditional way. Not only are there more, they’re created faster and cheaper. Compared to just 30 years ago, the relative time and cost of each photo has declined substantial. In fact, these days you could almost say the cost of a single photo has dropped to virtually zero.
This tidal wave of digital photos is also changing the very nature of what we use photos for. In the past (due to the time and cost),photos were for ‘special occasions’…birthdays, weddings, funerals, key events in our lives to be memorialized in permanent form. But these days, in addition to special occasions, we’re taking pictures of our everyday life. Instead of memorializing, we’re using photos to share and tell the stories of our lives – the day to day existence of lunches, and dog walks and cooking and babies. Add to that the phenomenon of “reality” television and you can see folks creating the documentary of their life through snapshots – and connecting with others in a social network of just pictures.