As always, our data comes from dating site OkCupid , one of the largest, and most interesting, datasets on the web.
This article aggregates We collected , example user pictures. We paired them up and asked people to make snap judgments, like so: We collated these millions of judgments with the time of day each picture was taken, what the shutter speed was, and so on.
Almost all modern cameras embed this stuff in a special header, called EXIF data. Here are our findings: The type and brand of camera you use has a huge effect on how good you look in your pictures. This is a plot of the most popular makes: As you can see, the general pattern is that more complex cameras take better pictures.
Interchangable lens cameras like digital SLRs make you look more attractive than your basic point and shoot cameras, and those in turn make you look better than your camera phone. They might want to consider making sharing more difficult. Beyond the advantages or shortcomings of any specific brand, the more-complex-is-better trend bears out at all ages: And we also found similar numbers looking only at people who uploaded all three types of photos.
Putting such a triplet together dramatically illustrates the difference: We found this data as part of our general camera-efficacy analysis: We dropped what we found into Excel, and voila. Just so you know, the names and the actual photos are removed when we do this kind of research; we just see the stats in aggregate. This is another simple finding that needs little explanation. Soft light can hide wrinkles, blemishes, devil eyes.
The hard light of a flash often brings them out. If you have access to a flash that can bounce off the ceiling or walls, that could work much better.
We found that the best pictures have a very shallow depth of field, meaning that the subject is in crisp focus while the rest of the picture is blurry, like this: Thanks, hivemind, you genius! For two pictures taken at the same distance, the lower f number will give you a shallower depth of field.
The widget below plots the aggregate attractiveness, by f number, of our user photos in a little color-coded array, alongside examples of each type of photo, so you can easily see how the depth of field affects things.
For obvious reasons, we restricted this analysis to photos by cameras capable of a wide range of apertures. Below is a minute-by-minute distribution of when people are taking their pictures. This plot also does a good job of showing off the sheer number of photos we analyzed for this piece: It seems that, broadly speaking, late night and late afternoon are optimal. Technique can make or break your photograph, and the right decisions can get you more dates. Use a decent camera. Go easy on the flash.
Take your picture in the afternoon. Then visit the nearest Apple store.