How to take the perfect selfie

Ever wonder why the selfies you post on social media just don’t get the love and attention of your gorgeous, long-haired female friends (I grapple with this daily)? To get to the bottom of what makes a great selfie, Stanford University researcher Andrej Karpathy fed 2 million of the suckers into a Convolutional Neural Network (ConvNets).

ConvNets have been in existence since the 1980s, but only really come to the fore in real-world picture analysis in 2012, when we finally had the data and computing power to make them effective.

ConvNets run a series of filters over every pixel of an image, each picking out a different feature of the image – colour, space, lines – to work out exactly what all these pixels are creating an image of. Furthermore, by training the ConvNets, they become more accurate over time.

So how do they determine what makes a good selfie? As mentioned above, using 2 million of them, Karpathy split them down the middle into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ selfies based on the number of likes they had received. Then he ran them through ConvNets, and let them work out the differences, down to the pixel, between what determines a good and a bad selfie.

Finally, using 50,000 fresh images, the ConvNets picked out the 100 ‘best’ images based on what they had learnt made for a good selfie.

Karpathy offered the following advice for taking a good selfie.

Be a woman
Of the top 100 images, there’s not a single male among them. There’s not much to be done here – so if you’re female and into selfies, that’s half the battle won.

Have long hair
And don’t just have it, rock it! Sure there’s a hat in among the pics, but these ladies are all letting their locks flow over their shoulders.

Face up!
Get a tilt going (you already knew that though, didn’t you?), and make sure your face is central and taking up a third of the total image. Also, curiously, the top of your head doesn’t matter, so cut off somewhere around the forehead.

Oversaturate and filter
Save #nofilter for beaches and rainforests – when it comes to your face, slap a filter on it. There are plenty of black and white photos in the top 100, as well as ones which fade out. Also, get your face nice and saturated to contrast it against the fading background.

Get border protection
Plenty of white borders – whether vertical or horizontal – in there, so get ’em on yours as well.

If you can’t follow rule number one, and absolutely have to be male, there’s a slightly different set of rules based on the top man-selfies.[related-posts]

For guys, forget the ‘cut off forehead’ advice – make sure your whole noggin is in the pic, and preferably show some shoulder as well. As for your hair, “fancy hair style with slightly longer hair combed upwards” make for a better selfie.

As for what not to do when snapping yourself.

Light it up
Low lighting equals a bad selfie.

Don’t get a big head
Frame it from a relative distance so that your head isn’t all-encompassing.

Be selfie-sh
It’s not called a groupie (that’s a whole other thing), it’s called a selfie. Put yourself front and center if you want the love – other people just take it away.



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