Popular photo-sharing website Flickr announced on Thursday that it had surpassed the 6 billion photos, reaching the milestone in just under seven and a half years.

Flickr says that over the last five years, uploads have increased 20% year-over-year, a respectable growth rate. The company is quick to point out that its tagging, camera data, groups, comments and favourites make the photo sharing website unique, perhaps in light of its small footprint compared to other photo sharing websites.

In comparison, Facebook counted 10 billion uploads by October 2008, around four years after it launched, surpassing 60 billion uploads in February 2011. A Facebook spokesperson told us today that the company is facilitating 100 million photo uploads a day, meaning that it can easily amass the same amount as Flickr’s total photo uploads in just two months.

The same February report put Photobucket at 8 billion uploads and Google’s Picasa service at 7 billion photos, with Flickr trailing slightly with 5 billion images hosted on its service. With Google amalgamating elements of its Picasa service into Google+, its new social network currently in limited beta, Google’s share of the market is expected to increase dramatically in the coming months, with it already counting 20 million users worldwide.

6000000000 520x390 Flickr hits 6 billion total photos, but Facebook does that every 2 months

Flickr's 6 billionth photo.

Flickr has become a safe haven for passionate photographers that wish to share their work with other like-minded individuals. However, the service has been slow to adapt in the face of its competition, particularly in regards to social network integration and costs associated with a Professional account when other services (including Facebook and Picasa) offer full featuresets and unlimited uploads without charge.

Many of Facebook’s 750 million users prefer the option of sharing their photos via an integrated network that doesn’t require visiting a separate site or having to register a new account. Jordan Rohan, an analyst with Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, believes that Facebook’s appeal lies in the fact that many of its users visit the main website daily, which they do not with other photo websites, such as Flickr.

Yahoo remains committed to pushing Flickr forward and making the company more profitable. But with its rivals increasing their market share, the company may soon become a niche sharing website as Facebook and Google combine their photo services into their core products.