What Tends to make a Photograph Profitable on Social Media? A Scientific Assessment of Thousands of Photographs


Analyzing information from thousands of film photographs, this scientific evaluation sought to assess the traits of film photographs that are connected with good results on social media. 

It ought to be noted that what tends to make a film photograph effective on social media is not the exact same point as the qualities that make a photograph great. With out receiving as well far into it, what tends to make a photograph “nice” is naturally certain to the particular person viewing the photo. Even the discussion of what is and is not genuinely stunning about a photograph is a lot more of a philosophical discussion — a single that is certainly not meant for scientific study. Yes, this is a nod to the rule of thirds, the golden ratio, and so forth. Success in social media, on the other hand, can be measured with no significantly problems. 

This study utilized information from Reddit, not Instagram, or any other social media platform. Even though Instagram is, at least amongst the photographers I know greatest, a a lot more typical spot to share one’s perform, analyses would be a lot more biased due to huge discrepancies in follower counts, typical engagement, variation in style among photographers, and consistency inside a photographer’s physique of perform. As such, analyses would be greatest suited to be performed and interpreted on the level of the person photographer, not on the worldwide physique of published photographs. Reddit, on the other hand, is best for these kinds of analyses, due to its structure. As opposed to Instagram, Reddit puts almost all photographers on an equal playing field and enables for photographs to be judged with no regard to who you do and do not comply with or what sort of pictures you traditionally like. 

Study Information and Style

The information for this study was ascertained from the r/Analog thread on Reddit. At the finish of May possibly, the thread’s moderators place with each other a publicly obtainable dataset with the 1,000 most upvoted posts among the 6th of May possibly 2019 to the 5th of May possibly 2020, in addition to a random sample of 1,000 other posts, regardless of the quantity of upvotes, from the exact same time period. For every post, the film stock, the format of the camera, the brand of camera, and the content material of the photograph had been collected. In instances with a lot more than a single topic, the information collectors assigned a “primary” and “secondary” categorization. For the purposes of this study, only the “primary” topic was analyzed. In instances exactly where a leading-1,000 photograph was also chosen as element of the random 1,000 photographs, the duplicate observation was deleted, and the photograph remained categorized as a “top 1,000” photo. 

Descriptive, bivariate analyses had been performed to ascertain what photograph and camera traits had been connected with becoming in the leading 1,000 photographs. For all formal pairwise comparisons, logistic regression was performed. This involves comparisons among film formats, camera brands, and the major topic of the photograph. All analyses had been performed utilizing SAS v9.four.

Final results

A total of 1,991 exclusive photographs had been utilized in this study (9 randomly chosen photographs belonged in the leading 1,000 categorization). The distribution across the whole a single-year period was constant, as was the distribution amongst the days of the week and hours of the day. The median quantity of upvotes had been 11 and two,005 for the random and leading posts, respectively. Additional, the 95th percentile of upvotes in the random category was 200, and the 5th percentile of the leading category was 991, indicating a chasm among these that are “successful” and these that are not.  

The distribution of upvote count more than time. Points in red are Prime posts, and points in black are Random posts.

Photographs taken on 35mm produced up almost 80% (precise: 78.7%) of the random photographs but much less than 60% (precise: 58.four%). Conversely, the relative frequency of 6×6 and 6×7 format photographs was almost twice a lot more prevalent (random: 7.four% versus leading: 13.9%) and 3 instances a lot more prevalent (random: six.two% versus 17.1%) in the leading category compared with the random category, respectively. Canon, Nikon, Minolta, and Olympus had been much less typical in the leading posts compared with the random posts. Of the 3, Canon was the most prevalent in the random posts, producing up 19.five% of all posts but only produced up 14.five% of leading posts. Hasselblad, Leica, Mamiya, and Pentax had been a lot more prevalent in leading posts compared with random posts. The biggest discrepancy was for Hasselblad, exactly where there had been, proportionately, 3 instances a lot more photographs in the leading category (7.9%) compared with the random category (two.five%).

Amongst all film brands, Fuji and smaller sized brands (i.e., Adox, Lomo, and so forth.) had comparable representation among random and leading posts, with Fuji consisting of around 15% of all photographs in each categories and the “other” category contributing around 14% in each categories. Ilford films represented 10.two% of all random posts but only four.7% of leading posts. Similarly, Kodak films not in the Portra family members produced up 32.two% of all random posts but only 22.%. Kodak Portra stocks, nevertheless, had been the only film stocks to be a lot more prevalent in the leading posts: they produced up 28.1% of random posts and 43.five% of leading posts. Comparing black and white and colour, colour photographs produced up around three out of four photographs in the random category but 9 out of 10 in the leading category. 

Distribution of random versus leading posts by major topic.

Evaluating major photograph subjects revealed that photographs of autos (~five%), architecture (~15%), and folks/non-portraits (~three%) had roughly equal distributions amongst the random and leading categories. Landscape and cityscape photographs had been a lot more prevalent in the leading category (20.% and four.five%, respectively) compared with the random category (13.7% and two.two%, respectively). Additional, portraits of guys had been much less typical amongst leading posts (random: 10.eight% versus leading: six.9%) compared with portraits of ladies, which had been a lot more typical amongst leading posts (random: 9.eight% versus leading: 19.three%). 

All camera and photograph elements had been connected with predicting leading post status nevertheless, the timing of the post was not connected with leading post status. Compared with 35mm, the bigger the format, the higher the odds of a photograph becoming a leading post. Far more especially, compared with 35mm, 645 formats had two.-instances higher odds of becoming a leading post, and 6×6 and 6×7 posts had two.9- and three.9-instances higher odds of becoming a leading post. Compared with Yashica, photographs had been taken with a Leica, Hasselblad, and Contax cameras had five.two, four.two, three.five instances greater odds of becoming a leading post, respectively. Similarly, compared with a portrait of a male, a cityscape, and a portrait of a lady are three.eight and three.1 instances are a lot more most likely to be a leading post. Ultimately, pictures in colour are twice as most likely to be leading posts compared with black and white photographs. Right after accommodating the impact of colour versus black and white, film stock brand, was not as considerably distinct from a single yet another. 


To me, maybe the most fascinating discovering was that cityscapes do so nicely. Otherwise, the evaluation revealed significantly of what I had currently anticipated. Landscapes, portraits of ladies, and photographs of architecture comprise a lot more than half of all leading posts. Photographs taken on medium format cameras are normally a lot more effective most likely due to perceived greater good quality. Additional, there was, in my opinion, an outsized part of camera brand. Brands that had the most significant impact on a photograph becoming a leading photograph had been also the most costly: Leica, Hasselblad, and Contax. It is achievable that this is much less due to a reputation element connected with these camera brands and a lot more due to the reality that the camera brands are a lot more prevalent amongst a lot more seasoned photographers. 


If you have a believed or opinion on any of the above data, I would really like to hear from you. If there’s a query you’d like to ask that I haven’t addressed above, please leave it in the comments section.