Will Live-Streaming and Video Kill the Photography Star?

(Image: 36% of the world popular are expected to be using smart-phones by the end of 2018)

Traditional and Online Photography

The word photography was first used in the 1830s and is derived from the Greek words photos and graphein meaning “light” and “to draw.” The first commercial camera was built by Kodak founder George Eastman in 1888. The camera had one fixed lens and one shutter speed and required a heavy tripod as it was about the size of a microwave. It had 100 exposures and after use, the camera would be sent back to the Kodak company for processing. Afterwards, the printed photos would be returned along with the device with another 100 exposures.

The first digital cameras existed back in the 1970s but they were not much of a common consumer product until the late ’90s. Storage is easier in the digital format with photo albums being replaced by hard drives capable of holding a family’s entire photographic history. Social media services such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have resulted in an abundance of photos on the internet and a very obvious trend for everyone to take photographs.

The vast majority of the western world now own a smart-phone and it is predicted that just over 36% of the world’s population will be using a smartphone by the end of 2018. This is an increase of about 10% from 2011. People tend to carry their smartphone in their pockets or bags at all times and are able to upload good quality images to social media instantly. The emergence of digital technology and easy access to a camera via a smartphone has transformed photography from an elitist and expensive craft to a toy of the masses.

The Future of Video Online

Smartphones and digital video cameras have also led to an increase of videos filmed. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index Forecast for Internet Traffic global IP video traffic will be 82% of all consumer Internet traffic by the year 2021. This is up from 73% in 2016. The report also states that live internet videos will account for 13% of all Internet video traffic by 2021, and that every second, a million minutes of video content will be crossing the network by 2021. Moreover,  it would take an individual more than 5 million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks each month in 2021. Live video traffic will account for 13% of internet traffic by 2021 and live video will increase 15-fold from 2016 to 2021.

Internet video to TV increased 50% in 2016 and is expected to continue to grow at a rapid pace increasing 3.6 fold by 2021. Internet video to TV traffic will be 26% of consumer internet video traffic by 2021 which is up from 24% in 2016. Consumer video on demand traffic will nearly double by 2021 and the amount of Video on Demand traffic in 2021 will be the same equivalent to an amazing 7.2 billion DVDs per month.

(Image: Any sport conceivable can now be live-streamed to a smart-phone)


There are countless live-streaming applications which also seemingly threaten traditional photography, also allowing easy access to entrainments such as concerts, sporting events, and gaming.

Twitter launched Periscope as its live video-streaming platform in March 2015. It also allows users to transmit live recordings to Twitter follows and allows viewers to ask questions and comment. Facebook launched Facebook Live a little later, in August 2015. It allows users to broadcast from their mobile devices straight to their Facebook News Feed. It also allows viewers to like or comment on the videos during the feed.

Specialised applications have also utilised live-streaming – for instance, Twitch, which is a subsidiary of Amazon. Twitch primarily focuses on video game live-streaming. The site offers broadcasts of Esports competitions, gameplay, creative content and even music broadcasts. Content on the site can also be viewed on demand. There is also a vast number of live-streaming applications which offer live coverage of sporting events.  Online casinos are also making the most out of live-streaming. Leo Vegas is an online platform which claims to have taken the best bits of world’s gambling capital Las Vegas and digitised it. Leo Vegas features via live-streaming dealer tables offering punters blackjack, roulette, and poker. The application also features live roulette games with multiple HD camera angles allowing viewers to feel involved in the action.

A Preference for Video?

Humans actually appear to have a preference for viewing videos rather than still images. In a video released by Facebook IQ in 2017, the social network service explains how it conducted a study of participants based in the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. The goal of the study was to try to gauge the content consumption of the participants and to analyse related viewing trends. The Facebook study derives from a lab experiment where people’s eye movement and facial expressions were tracked while they scrolled through their personal feeds. This was followed up by interviews about the role of video in the participant’s lives.

The study discovered that the people in those regions would gaze at video content on Face and Instagram 5x longer than they did at static content. It was also found that on Instagram even a cinemagraph – which is an image which moves ever so slightly – could capture a person’s attention for twice as long as a comparable static post, which could be bad news for traditional photography.

Some professional photographers are also taking advantage of the advanced cameras as video quality on digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) and other cameras continues to improve. The frame of a 4k video contains 8 million pixels, which is enough to provide a quality print of an image to use in print or online. Professional photographers are taking advantage of this tech by shooting the whole event such as sporting game or wedding on video and then selecting a single still frame from it to feature as a photo. We know some would disagree that this counts as photography, but there’s no doubt it’s a rather widely used practice.


Online video consumption is predicted only to grow through access to smartphones to watch and create content. More applications are focusing on live-streaming to entice users and research has shown that humans prefer to watch movement over still images. However, while video may dominate, it is very unlikely to completely replace traditional photography, but rather become another tool used by professional photographers in specific contexts.


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