The visual revolution that we’re experiencing is about far more than numbers, but the raw statistics themselves are staggering, as Steven Hoffenberg’s essay in Photography Changes Everything makes clear. In the late 1990s, when the use of film cameras was at its historical height, about 80 billion photos were made each year. That’s a lot — nearly a roll of film for every man, woman, and child on earth. In 2011, however, we made five times as many photos — over 400 billion — with camera phones alone and almost as many photos with conventional digital cameras.
Given figures like those, it’s no surprise that Fortune magazine estimates that “10% of all photos ever taken were shot in 2011.”