Take a good look at the image above.
This is a screen grab from my Instagram App.
This is where I hit the ‘search’ icon, just to see what pops up.
What pops up, over and over and over again, is video. Lots of video.
In fact, by my totally unscientific count, video now outnumbers still on Instagram by almost two to one. Sometimes far more.
In the frame above, of 11 offered ‘stories’, 9 are video. Naturally, there is the all to ubiquitous cat video upper right.
Instagram began as a platform for sharing still photographs, and almost overngiht, its popularity exploded. In 2014, according to Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report, people uploaded an average of 1.8 billion digital images every single day. That’s 657 billion photosper year. Another way to think about it: Every two minutes, humans take more photos than ever existed in total 150 years ago.
And that was four years ago. By Internet standards, those numbers are positively ancient.
What drove Instagram, more than anyting else, was the advent of marrying cameras to phones. It used to be that to take a photo, you had to remember to take your camera with you. And of course, unless you were a professional photographer, you looked like an absolute geek walking around with your Nikon hanging around your neck on a strap. As a result, most people simply did not bother.
The advent of phones that were cameras (and more properly today, cameras that also happen to be phones), changed all that forever. Now, everyone has a camera with them 24 hours a day, every day.
The other big change was that in the olden days, you were limited to 36 exposures per roll of film, and then you had to send the damend thing off to Photomat and wait a week to get the prints. And that is what you got – a pack of prints. Try sharing those with anyone except your spouse (and not too often if you want to stay married).
The marriage of the phone and the internet meant that a) no developing and b) instand sharing with the world. Hence, the extraodinary numbers for Instagram.
Of course, professoinal photographers were pretty much driven out of business.
Well, what happend to photography is now happening to video – and fast.
Smartphones today shoot 4K and they too share instantly. So the idea of hiring a professional crew is about as germane as the idea of hiring a professional photographer. And, (and this is the more interesting point), the idea of becoming a professional video or film producer, in a world in which everyone is shooting video and posting it all day long, makes about as much sense as beocming a professional photographer does now. Which is not a lot.
This may be hard to countenance, but it is true.
And it is no bad thing.
The advent of the printing press 500 years ago meant that suddenly everyone could become a writer and a publisher. Scribes were suddenly unemployed, as were legions of Monks.
But writers, who could write and publish things that they felt passionate about (as opposed to the scribes for hire), created the novels and the books and the newspapers that we all read (or read – past tense).
Freed from the constraints of expensive gear and complex production techniques, people are now equally liberated to begin to create videos about things for which they also have a passion.
Let us hope that it is more than cats, however.