Science Finally Provides Answers to Which Instagram Filters Work Best

Richard Prince, Portrait of NightCoreGirl, ink jet on canvas, 48X58, 2014 Photo: screenshot from richardprince4's Instagram
Installation view of Richard Prince, "New Portraits," at Gagosian

Installation view of Richard Prince, New Portraits at Gagosian
Photo: Paddy Johnson

If you suffer from Instagram filter indecision, listen up. Scientists at Georgia Tech and Yahoo Labs have found which filter characteristics elicits maximum engagement from users, New York Magazine reports.

In their research paper titled “Why We Filter Our Photos and How It Impacts Engagement,” scientists analyzed 7.6 million Flickr photos uploaded from mobile devices, over 50 percent of which are cross-posted from Instagram.

The team then surveyed the view count and number of comments on each photo to determine which filters attract the highest level of engagement.

According to the findings “filtered photos are 21 percent more likely to be viewed and 45 percent more likely to be commented on” than unfiltered photos (see Colors Dictate Online Image Sharing, Study Claims).

So which filters will get you the most popular photos? The researchers split Instagram’s filters into five categories: filters that make the photos warmer; increased color saturation; increased contrast; increased exposure; and adding a vintage effect.

The survey concluded that warm filters correlate to the highest number of comments, and filters with increased exposure generate the most views. On the other hand, color saturation filters generated the lowest views and vintage effects the lowest number of comments.

For maximum engagement, “Warm temperatures, higher contrast, and higher exposure increases chances of receiving [both] views and comments.”

However, the authors note that simply adding filters probably won’t make your photos go viral. The data was collected from millions of photos, many of which have very low engagement. Additionally there are many photos without filters that see very high engagement.

Now who’s going to tell Richard Prince? (see Richard Prince Is Selling Conceptual Instagram Art at Gagosian and Richard Prince Turned His Instagram Feed Into a Conceptual Art Project).

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.


Article topics
Subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content.

You are currently logged into this Artnet News Pro account on another device. Please log off from any other devices, and then reload this page continue. To find out if you are eligible for an Artnet News Pro group subscription, please contact [email protected]. Standard subscriptions can be purchased on the subscription page.

Log In