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Filtered Photos Are 21% More Likely to Be Viewed



Popularized by the likes of Instagram, photo filters are divisive in the world of photography: some people love using and viewing them, while others hate what they’ve done to the medium. No matter which side of the aisle you find yourself on, one thing is clear: filters can have a big impact these days on how popular your shared images are.

And that effect has now been quantified: it turns out filtered photos are 21% more likely to be viewed online than their original, unprocessed shots.

The finding is being reported by researchers at Yahoo Labs in a new paper titled “Why We Filter Our Photos and How It Impacts Engagement.” After analyzing 7.6 million photographs on Flickr, the scientists found that filters boost engagement. In addition to being 21% more, filtered photos are 45% more likely to be commented on.

Not all filters are created equal, however. Warmer filters that increase contrast and correct exposure boost engagement the most, while cooler filters are generally less engaging.

A warmer, more engaging filter (left), and a cooler, less engaging filter (right).
A warmer, more engaging filter (left), and a cooler, less engaging filter (right).

Researchers also saw a difference in how photographers of different levels use filters. Casual shooters generally use filters that drastically transform their images with bold effects, while “serious” photographers use filters for mild corrections, adjustments, and effects.

So, the takeaway from all this: if you use filters and want your photos to be popular online, think about subtle tweaks and don’t go overboard.

Image credits: Photographs by David Shamma/Flickr