According to Mary Meeker, we are collectively uploading over 500 million photos per day to various photo sharing and social media websites. That number looks to double within the next 12 months, which means that by this time next year we’ll be uploading over 1 billion photos per day, every day, until the Internet collapses under the weight of all that collective snapshooting.
Here's another mind-boggling statistic from Jonathan Good: 10% of the total photos ever snapped were taken within the past 12 months. I've seen graphs illustrating this acceleration, and the lines are trending toward straight up.
It makes you wonder who is looking at all of these photos and what’s behind this frenzy of image making. No one really knows for sure, but the assumption is that a large majority are snapshots taken with smartphones, and that a majority of the people who take the photos aren't "photographers" in the traditional sense of the word. Whether anyone is looking is an open question.
For the traditional semi-pro or pro landscape photographer, there is probably no sense in trying to stand out in this tsunami of online photo sharing. Even on more serious photo-centric sites such as 500px and Flickr, quiet and subtle photographs tend to get lost amongst the never-ending onslaught of flashy, eye-catching imagery. It now appears that attempting to build an audience by posting images to photo sharing and social media sites is only marginally effective at best, and perhaps even a distraction and waste of time at worst.
So what to do for the budding fine art landscape photographer? I’d suggest what is a decidedly old school approach that involves building an audience locally, then slowly and steadily moving into regional competitions, national/international exhibitions, and eventually if all goes well, full gallery representation. It's a long road and a long shot, with no guarantee that one will ever arrive at their destination, but at least the odds are (possibly) better than 500 million to one.