We know what it’s like. You spend the entire afternoon trying to find the best angle, lighting and backdrop, snapping numerous selfies, and sifting through dozens of photos to find the one that you love best, before finally, finally uploading it onto Instagram, at 2 in the morning.
You wake up the next day and what do you see? 9 paltry likes.
Don’t be disheartened, because science says it’s not you; it’s probably just the way you’re taking and editing your photo.
In a study by Andrej Karpathy, a computer science graduate from Stanford University, 2 million photos posted on Instagram with the hashtag #selfie were analysed and ranked by running them through a complex Convolutional Neural Network — which is basically a super smart computer program that can recognise patterns in images and classify them. Then, each picture was judged based on the number of likes it got, proportional to the number of followers that Instagram account has, and the number was whittled down to the top 100 selfies.
Seeing the results, to say they were surprising would be an understatement. Here’s what science says you need to do to take the perfect selfie:
1. Follow the rule of thirds.
Subjects in the top 100 selfies usually keep their face within 1/3 of the image space, in the centre or at the top. The subject’s face is also usually slightly tilted, something that can be explained by science. A tilted head suggests friendliness, kindness and honesty — who wouldn’t like those qualities, right?
2. Cut off part of your forehead
Not literally, of course. A strange, but noticeable trend among the most-liked photos were foreheads that were cut off from the shot completely or partly, revealing the face only from eyebrow-down. Even science can’t justify this phenomenon.
3. Use a filter
We’re all for #nomakeup and #nofilter, but according to the study, the selfies that received the most amount of likes usually have filters. Black and white seems to be a crowd favourite, while dreamy, warm and sepia-y tones are also popular.
4. Add white space
Almost all of the best selfies have a little border, that either lies vertically, horizontally or all around the picture. Not only does it make your photo look cleaner, it also directs the eyes to the middle (where your face would usually be). King of Instagram White Space, Jaden Smith, is obviously a big fan of doing this.
5. Don’t include your friends
Sadly, wefies don’t get as much love as selfies do, with the exemption of Ellen Degeneres’ Internet-breaking Oscar shot. So break it to your friends gently that you will no longer be including them in photographs.
Try these out the next time you take a selfie. Who knows — you might be the next one to break the Internet.
Photos: @kyliejenner via Instagram and Andrej Karpathy.
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