Unsplash 5.0

Thousands of iconic photos. Billions of views. One massively creative community. And today — it gets even better.

Unsplash Blog
7 min readJan 31, 2017


Earlier this month, Unsplash hit a significant milestone: one billion photos viewed per month.

One billion.

It’s hard to picture what a “billion” looks like without resorting to cosmic imagery (or Trump’s tax returns)… so instead of trying to picture what a billion looks like, let’s instead focus on what this milestone means:

Unsplash is now one of the biggest (and most vibrant) creative communities on the internet. Full stop.

We started Unsplash in a dusty office above a grocery store. Back then, it was just Mikael and a Tumblr blog with 10 photos.

Today, Unsplash is one of the most potent creative cauldrons on the internet: Thousands of photographers, millions of eyeballs, and billions of delicious photo views™ breaking the internet on a daily basis.

But it’s not time to pat ourselves on the back. Not even close. What truly makes Unsplash Unsplash isn’t our sexy code or our sexy sweaters (and boy-o-boy are they sexy) — it’s the unsurpassable Unsplash community.

To celebrate YOU, we’re ringing in a billion with a new, fresh, and surprisingly speedy update 🐎

So are you an Unsplash fan? Photographer? President? Whatever side of the Unsplash community you’re on — you’re in for a treat.


  1. Unsplash Following
  2. Unsplash Notifications
  3. Unsplash Stories
  4. Unsplash S
  5. Unsplash Local
We make time for community ;)

1. Introducing: The Following Feed

Unsplash isn’t just an anonymous collection of spellbinding photos. It’s now a platform to discover your next favourite photographer. (And a place for photographers to find their next biggest fan.)

That’s right: starting today, you can now follow anyone you want on Unsplash.

On the Following Feed, you’ll be updated on the latest uploads from your favourite Unsplash photographers — say, someone like Samuel Zeller or Tobias van Schneider. You’ll also be able to see what your friends are liking. If you’re friends with our accountant Chris, expect to see some pineapples.

The Following Feed makes it much easier for great photos to be discovered. Unsplash photographers: you no longer have to rely on serendipity to have your photos go viral — because as soon as you upload a photo, your followers can begin liking and sharing it with their own followers.

This is just the latest way that we (the omnipotent Unsplash dev team) are ceding power to you (the super foxy Unsplash community.)

With the introduction of the Following Feed, you can finally customize your photo-viewing experience on Unsplash. We’ve meticulously designed the Following Feed to showcase your photos, which means goodbye to the familiar “three column” layout used on our Home and New pages — and hello to PhotoGrid. It’s our new smart way to display photos. We want to give each photo room enough to breathe. Check it out. It’s perrrty.

2. Introducing: Unsplash Notifications

With Notifications, you now have access to insights like:

  • Who’s following you
  • Download milestones
  • Who’s liking your photo
  • Which collections your photo is being added to
  • When your photo is curated by one of our guest curators

Notifications have been one of our most requested features so we’re thrilled to be able to keep you in the know with what’s going on with your photos and collections.

We’re in the process of rolling out Notifications to everyone. To see if you have access to them in your account look out for the bell icon in the right hand corner. 🔔

3. Introducing: Unsplash Stories

Stories are a new way of expressing yourself on Unsplash beyond the photo itself.

(And yes, we know that pictures are already worth “a thousand words”. But sometimes, a thousand words isn’t enough — Unsplash Stories are our way of helping you cheat on the character limit ;)

For the casual viewer, Unsplash Stories will take you behind the lens of your favourite shots, letting you read about how the photographer composed their photo, what tech (and settings) they were using, and what thoughts were coursing through their brain before hitting CAPTURE!

More than just showing the craftsmanship that goes into a great photo, Unsplash Stories establish context, and shine light on details that a quick scan might have missed. That’s the real motivating force behind Stories: to ensure your photography is carefully considered not only treated like pretty wallpaper.

If a photo has an accompanying Story, just scroll down on the photo page to read it.

4. Introducing: Unsplash S

Heads up: this section is going to go by quick.

Almost as quick as Unsplash itself.

For the last year, we’ve been working extra hard to make Unsplash faster. We’ve refactored our code so Unsplash loads in your browser lickity split.

Unsplash (2015) vs. Unsplash (2016)

With more than a billion Unsplash photos being viewed every month, we needed to make sure our technology was equipped to handle the explosive growth of our community. Thanks to our team’s tireless work this year, we can confidently say it has. 🚀📈🚀

We’re calling this one Unsplash S — where the S stands for Speed.

If you’re a developer (or you sometimes like to pretend you are) you can read all about our extremely nerdy exploits here.

5. Introducing: Unsplash Local

Even better than a sexy hologram: Unsplash is now something you can experience in real-life.

This May, the Unsplash team moved into our new headquarters in the heart of Montréal’s Old Port. Part Unsplash office, part coworking space, part café (sidenote: people seem to L-O-V-E our coffee), we’ve been using Unsplash HQ as the hub of Montreal’s Unsplash community.

We host parties, organize photo walks, photography workshops, and have even more exciting plans beyond Montreal:

Unsplash Local is our way of bringing Unsplash to your city. In the flesh. (And through the lens.) Starting in 2017, Unsplash Local gatherings be launching in cities as far-ranging as Tokyo, Toronto, and Geneva, Switzerland. Whether you’re an amateur who doesn’t know what an f-stop is, or an experienced pro looking to share your knowledge, get in touch with us. We’ll introduce you to some of the most passionate photographers in your city. 🔥🎥😍

What a crazy year for Unsplash. And what a crazy year for our community. With Unsplash Local, we’re figuring out how to bring the magic of Unsplash’s online community to your city — whether that means inspiring new (or-non) photographers to start shooting, or by giving pros a place to talk shop and share ideas. With Unsplash S, we’re building for the future, and ensuring Unsplash can continue to serve you photos reliably and quickly — no matter how big our community grows. With Unsplash Stories, we’re giving you a place to wax poetic on your best shots. With Unsplash Notifications we’re sharing insights into your account. And with the Following Feed, we’re giving you more control over your Unsplash experience, and helping our photographers build loyal followings that will support them for the years to come.

Hitting a billion photo views in December was a big milestone for us too — putting us on a similar pace as companies like Tumblr. Our product continues to hit the right notes. So we’re scared. And excited. Because we have no idea what’s in store for 2017.

But we do know one thing for sure.

There’s no way we’d be here if it wasn’t for you.

Three Unsplash photos are downloaded every second.
Watch the action unfold across the globe.

Want to learn more about Unsplash?
Here’s our history in full.

Just came for the pictures? We got you.
Join Unsplash here.

One of the big things on our to-do list right now is building our core team so we can make Unsplash better. And we need a hand in spreading the word. If you enjoyed this post, we’d really appreciate it if you could recommend it on Medium and/or share the tweet below:

If you or someone you know would like to join Unsplash, here’s our open positions.

Thanks a billion :) Onward!



Unsplash Blog

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