The Most Photographed Subject (Decoding Flickr Statistics)

Many years ago—before magazines came as “Web apps”—when I used to regularly get the UK edition of Amateur Photographer (I am not sure that there were any other editions), I remember reading an article about how women’s breasts, frame for frame, were the most photographed subject in the world—either directly, indirectly, or disguised.

The article went into how, before the camera, the most drawn and painted subject was women’s breasts (again, either directly, indirectly, or disguised), and how this ‘trend’ continued when cameras came along. It also pointed out that for professional model shoot for a men’s magazines such as OUI, Playboy, Mayfair, etc., (some of which don’t exist today because the Web has displaced them) over a hundred rolls of film might be shot using three or four different cameras just to get a set of ten pictures of the model to publish in the magazine.

Assuming these were 36 frame rolls that would be 3,600 frames taken in the one shoot. No wonder they needed assistants loading the cameras for them.

The following graph from the Lunchbreath site (here), intended to assist Flickr users in decoding their complicated and verbose posting frequency charts, illustrates this continuing trend, showing that booby or cleavage shots are even more numerous than shots of kittens or cats—which I know for some people will be very hard to believe.


I did a Google search in a vain attempt to find the Amateur Photography article on this subject. As an outcome of that search I was surprised to find that UK Amateur Photography still exists and they have a Web site (here). However after doing a number of searches of their site I was not able to turn up the article I was searching for.

I strongly suspect that none of the pre-Internet era articles have been OCR’d and posted onto the site. The thinking probably being that nobody wants to read those ‘old’ film days articles so why would they bother scanning them, OCR’ing them, paying someone to check the OCR (because no OCR is every any good), and posting them up—assuming they even still have copies of them. Pity really. I learnt a lot about photography from many hours of reading Amateur Photography.

I did find out from my searches on Amateur Photography that the Eiffel Tower is supposed to be the most photographed building. But this is only according to statistics from the Flickr photo sharing Web site. I seriously doubt the accuracy of this because Flickr is only one of about a hundred popular photo-posting and sharing sites including: SmugMug; PhotoBucket; DropShots; Webshots; Fotki; Imgur; PhotoSIG; ShutterFly;; 500 pixels; 23; DeviantART; Image Shack; PBase; Zooomr; and Google Picasa Web Albums. Then there are ‘social’ sites like Facebook, Google+, the 4Chan forums, and What Boys Want that allow photo uploading and sharing as one of their services.

If it was true prior to the Internet era that, frame for frame, women’s breasts were the most photographed subject in the world then I am very sure that the Internet era and having digital cameras embedded into everything has only made it more so. Whereas before the Internet era most of the ‘direct or indirect’ pictures taken of women’s primary sexual assets (breasts) would have been taken by men; we know that now with the advent of ‘sexting’ that the girls themselves take and share thousands of cleavage shots, even bare booby shots, either via the Web or via e-mail/SMS every day.

I recently joined 500 pixels. I mainly signed up to see how voting would go on some of my pictures. I have only posted three pictures so far and sadly I have not done well in the voting. Two of my three pictures have no votes at all, but my picture of SCN at Falls Farm that I posted has picked up two votes. I think the voting might be rigged and that friends get other friends on 500 pixels to vote on their pictures [insert grin here]—and I don’t have any friends there yet to vote for me.

But from looking over 500 pixels I would have to say the most popular subject there is without a doubt “cleavage shots”. As you can see from the following screen grab from 500 pixels, 11 of the 20 shots on this one index page are direct or indirect booby pictures.


Incidentally, in the time I have spent looking at and voting on pictures at 500 pixels over the last month or so, I have not seen a single picture of the Eiffel Tower—which according to Flickr statistics is supposed to be the most photographed ‘building’.

Anyone reading this who has a 500 pixels account might want to go over and vote on a couple of my pictures … maybe. If you search for “Shades of Pink” you should find my pink rose picture and if you search for “Falls Farm” you should find my picture of SCN at Falls Farm.

So, bottom line, you know now that if someone brings up the topic of ‘I wonder what the most photographed subject in the world is’ then you can jump in with the answer.