Instagram grows to 300 Million

Instagram icon

facebook and instagramFour-year-old online photo sharing service Instagram reports it now has more than 300 million members — up from 200 million just nine months ago.

Users have shared 30 billion photos, USA Today notes. Instagram was acquired by Facebook in 2012.

“What began as two friends with a dream has grown into a global community that shares more than 70 million photos and videos each day,” writes CEO Kevin Systrom on the company blog. “…As Instagram gets bigger, we’re focused on helping you discover photos and videos from people who you care about, whether it’s a friend or your favorite musician.”

The service also announced a new “verified badges” feature for celebrities, athletes and brands, “making it easier for you to connect with the authentic accounts you’re looking for.”


Photographers become self-publishers

photographers self publish

photographers self publish

Time Magazine looks at the business side of publishing a photography book — when the publisher is also the artist.

“An increasing number of photographers are bypassing traditional photo book publishers, setting up, instead, their own imprints,” the article says. “Progressively, photographers who choose to self-publish are taking it to the next level. They’re turning one-time hits into more permanent structures that release works by other artists. Many have chosen this avenue as a way to snub the major publishers who are increasingly asking their authors to bring not only a great body of work, but also a check.”

The full story is here.

Also: Time presents its picks for the best photography books of the year here.


50,000 body-worn cameras — White House proposes funding


axon_flex_hero_vertical_shotThe use of wearable cameras has been slowly accelerating in recent years, especially among police forces. You can now expect these tools to take off rapidly as the US government reacts to recent increased violence.

“Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and around the country have highlighted the importance of strong, collaborative relationships between local police and the communities they protect,” the White House press office posted.

Amidst the proposals and task forces, the post says the President “proposes a three-year $263 million investment package that will increase use of body-worn cameras, expand training for law enforcement agencies (LEAs), add more resources for police department reform, and multiply the number of cities where DOJ facilitates community and local LEA engagement. As part of this initiative, a new Body Worn Camera Partnership Program would provide a 50 percent match to States/localities who purchase body worn cameras and requisite storage.  Overall, the proposed $75 million investment over three years could help purchase 50,000 body-worn cameras.”

(Pictured here: Taser’s Axon system first marketed in 2012.)


“Smartphone Mums” risk losing memories

nero Moms

nero Moms

In London, imaging software developer Nero says its research shows “44 percent of this first generation of ‘smartphone mums’ admit that they would lose all of their photos if their phone was lost or broken.”

The study found 92 percent of UK mothers use smartphones to photograph their children, and 49 percent believe social media pages are the safest place to store photos, the company adds.

One-fifth “complain they have lost a treasured digital photo.”

“We would urge parents not to play roulette with precious memories when backing up securely is such an easy and simple thing to do,” Nero says. “Children grow up so fast that losing even a small amount of images can cut out a large chunk of a child’s life. Backing up is simple and easy, so there really is no excuse to forget.” (Yes, they sell back-up utilities — but the general idea is true of all “mums,” and hey, many other young mothers too.)


Shutterfly: Americans fail to share memories

shutterfly logo large

shutterfly logoOnline photo service Shutterfly reports most Americans take most of their pictures with their phones — and leave them there, as “more than half of new photos aren’t being shared after they are snapped.”

A survey of 1,169 regular photo takers “reveals that Americans now take more than 10 billion photos every month,” the company says, “bolstered by the ever-present mobile phone, which nearly 60 percent of respondents say is their primary photo taking device.”

• Half of the respondents hasn’t looked at a picture that is more than ten years old in the last month.
• Millennials snap more than 100 photos each month on average, and they’re unlikely to have looked at an old photo in the past month.
• Ninety percent agree that revisiting and sharing the story behind a photo with someone else makes it more meaningful.
• 84 percent learned about their family memories from photos accompanied by verbal stories or detailed captions.
• Nearly half of people say that as a society, Americans are not spending enough time with family revisiting the stories behind photos. 


Canon claims longest 4K ultra-telephoto lens

canon cineservo

canon cineservo

First: yep, it’s $78,000. So no, you likely are not the target customer for this hunk o’ glass.

However, Canon says its “the increasing use of large-format single-sensor 4K cameras for field productions like sports and nature documentaries” means there might indeed be more potential buyers for its new ultra-telephoto CINE-SERVO 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9 Ultra-Telephoto Zoom lens.

It has a 75-1500mm focal length to “offer cinematographers new possibilities for shooting scenes in HD, 2K and 4K on single-sensor cameras,’ the company says. “The use of large-sensor 4K cameras is rapidly spreading beyond motion pictures and episodic television, into many new types of productions such as broadcast sports and nature documentaries.”

It’s available in either EF- or PL-mount, and “provides outstanding aberration correction and high image quality extending from the center of the image to all edges. For professional users, this lens enables close-up 4K imaging of wildlife subjects or athletes while maintaining the physical distances necessary in such shooting situations,” Canon adds.

There’s more information here.


Photo book finds funding, ties to mobile

smolan tracks

smolan tracks

Famed photographer Rick Smolan is enhancing one of his earliest works with a smartphone-enabled coffee table book — for which he has now completed a first round of funding on Kickstarter.

Inside Tracks: Alone Across the Outback is based on a woman’s solitary 1,700 mile camel trek across the Australian Outback, the book she published about her journey, the photos Smolan captured — and the new movie hitting screens soon.

Smolan was a twenty-eight-year-old photojournalist when he was sent to document Robyn Davidson’s nine-month Australian adventure. National Geographic published his initial photos; she wrote her own book about the journey; and Smolan later published his own photo book, From Alice to Ocean.

Inside Tracks will be a self-published 224-page landscape coffee-table book, 30-inches wide when open. It will “weave together three experiences of her journey,” Smolan says: quotes from her book, the best of his photos, many of which have never been seen before, and images and the screenplay from the new movie.

With integrated HP technology, Smolan adds, “you simply point your phone or tablet at specially marked photos and immediately you’ll see a clip from the movie showing how that photograph was brought to life.”

The Kickstarter funding has met Smolan’s initial goals — but you can still sign up now to get a good deal on the finished volume, and help ensure the publication.


Thousands of private photos hacked



It was bad enough when a few famous celebrities had their private photos stolen and publicized — but now apparently hackers are preparing to do the same to thousands of would-be anonymous users of the Snapchat instant communications app.

Business Insider reports “a giant database of intercepted Snapchat photos and videos has been released by hackers who have been collecting the files for years…”

Reportedly the “” service that allowed users to receive photos and videos and save them online. (Wait, isn’t that alone completely opposing the point of Snapchat and its instantly self-destructing images?) The article alleges “the site was quietly collecting everything that passed through it, storing incriminating Snapchats on a web server, with the usernames of senders attached.”

The full story is here.


Google Glass fights crime

google wink

google winkDon’t go breaking any laws in Dubai: facial recognition technology combined with the head-mounted camera and computer in Google’s Glass device may make it easier to ID suspects, detectives there say.

Reuters reports the Gulf Arab emirate will deploy software developed by Dubai police to connect the wearer and a database of wanted people. Once the device “recognized” a suspect based on a face print, it would alert the officer wearing the gadget.

Glass is available now, pre-mass release, for $1,500.

The full story is here.

Animoto surveys “next generation of home movies”

Animoto Video Creation Survey

Animoto Video Creation SurveyToday, 85 percent of us enjoy creating videos, Animoto reports in a new survey.

The Animoto Video Creation Study surveyed 1,031 U.S. consumers who had recorded or created a personal video in the past six months, the company says, and showed that the vast majority enjoyed creating videos, while 80 percent said they create videos to keep in touch with friends and family.

The Animoto web service provides video creation tools. “We were curious about how people thought about capturing video and what motivated them to edit their personal video clips,” the company says. “The survey showed consumers are actively interested in creating videos that can be shared and watched numerous times. They’re inspired to bring their life stories to video, so they can preserve their memories and experience them in a meaningful way with friends and family.”

Other findings include:

• 76 percent have used a smartphone’s camera, and 60 percent used a digital camera with video capabilities to record video.
• 72 percent of consumers create video to have as keepsakes.
•56 percent of respondents use a smartphone to record video at least once a week — 16 percent of those do so on a daily basis.
• 81 percent feel more connected to family and friends when watching videos of them.
• 86 percent enjoy sharing videos they create.
• 76 percent have shared videos via Facebook.
• 52 percent use email to share videos; YouTube scored 50 percent.
• 34 percent used text messages/SMS to share videos.

“Consumer-created videos featuring beloved photos and videos have a powerful emotional impact on creators and viewers, and can tell a compelling story in a way that static photos simply cannot,” Animoto adds. “In fact, 65 percent of consumers prefer watching videos to looking at photos, and 79 percent of respondents believe it is important that the videos they create can be watched time and again.”