Don’t Be Ugly By Accident!

August 10th, 2010 by Christian Rudder

If you're anything like me, you usually think of your pics in terms of content: Here's me smiling. Here's me looking tough. Here's me in Hawaii with that wacky turtle. And so on. Today, however, we'll analyze photography from a numerical angle—we'll discuss flash, focus, and aperture instead. We feel like people don't really think about these things when they choose a profile photo, and yet, as we shall see, their misuse can seriously mess you up.

As always, our data comes from dating site OkCupid, one of the largest, and most interesting, datasets on the web. This article aggregates 11.4 million opinions on what makes a great photo.

. . .

Our experiment:

  1. We collected 552,000 example user pictures.
  2. We paired them up and asked people to make snap judgments, like so:
  3. 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.
  4. We made graphs.

Here are our findings:

1. Panasonic > Canon > Nikon.

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. I'm not sure what's going on with Kodak all the way to the right there. 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:

oh, also—iPhone users have more sex.

File this under "icebreakers, MacWorld '11". Finally, statistical proof that iPhone users aren't just getting fucked by Apple:

The chart pretty much speaks for itself; I'll just say that the numbers for all three brands are for 30 year-olds, so it's not a matter of older, more experienced people preferring one phone to another. We found this data as part of our general camera-efficacy analysis: we crossed all kinds of user behaviors with the camera models and found we had data on the number of sexual partners for 9,785 people with smart phones. We dropped what we found into Excel, and voila. Here's the plot by age:

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. Everything is anonymized. Now let's leave brands and gadgets aside and look at how purely photographic phenomena can affect your precious face.

2. The flash adds 7 years.

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. As I illustrate with the dotted lines below, you can calculate the equivalent "aging" effects of a flash by counting years horizontally between the 'flash' and 'no flash' lines. For example, a 28 year-old who used a flash is as attractive as a 35 year-old who didn't. Trace the dotted lines to see what I'm talking about. Don't piss off Ming.

One thing we observed is that most flash exposures—even from SLR's—appeared to be direct flash. That's where the flash was fired directly at the subject, producing harsh shadows. If you have access to a flash that can bounce off the ceiling or walls, that could work much better.

3. Blot out all other reality.

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:

I'll spare you my explanation of the optics behind this and instead let a graphic from the 10,000 word wikipedia page fill you in:

Thanks, hivemind, you genius! Basically, you get this sharp/blurry effect from having a wide-open aperture: low f numbers on your camera, like f/1.8, f/2.2, etc. 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.

show women show men

It's my opinion that because the photos with the low f numbers feel more intimate and personal, they get a better viewer response.

4. There are peak times of the day to take a good picture.

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:

Of course, the most interesting thing isn't when people are taking their photos, but when they are taking their best photos:

It seems that, broadly speaking, late night and late afternoon are optimal. I can't really say why that is, but I can irresponsibly theorize that photos taken in the former bracket tend to be more provocative, those taken in the latter tend to be pleasantly lit.

As noted, the plotted timestamps are adjusted by time zone and for daylight savings, and when you overlay the path of the sun through the sky during our theoretical "day", you see peaks just after sunrise and just before sunset: evidence of the golden hour.

. . .

In conclusion, the data strongly suggest that if you're single, you (or someone you know) should learn a little bit about photography. Technique can make or break your photograph, and the right decisions can get you more dates.

It's actually not that hard. Use a decent camera. Go easy on the flash. Own the foreground. Take your picture in the afternoon. Then visit the nearest Apple store. Done.

374 Responses to “Don’t Be Ugly By Accident!”

  1. Don says:

    Mid August, stats show that’s summer intern project time.

    I’m on the side that thinks better pictures come from photo enthusiasts who are more likely to buy a DSLR. Most P&S cameras these days have plenty of flexibility to control depth of field if you READ THE MANUAL. 8 vs 16 megapixels on the camera makes no difference after you scale it down to a web size of half a megapixel.

  2. Bob says:

    This article was interesting, but it made way too many misleading generalizations. I’ve been a professional photographer and mentor for more than 40 years. It’s entirely possible to produce a decent internet-quality portrait with any kind of camera as long as you know some photography basics. Merely owning a sophisticated camera doesn’t guarantee that one will produce a good quality picture. Some of the best images I’ve seen were made on a camera phone.
    When considering an image for posting on a web site, the individual has two choices: having a friend (who may or may not know what they’re doing) take the picture, or setting up a self portrait, in which case you can’t always see what you’re doing through the viewfinder. Shooting into mirrors or the telltale outstretched arm are dead giveaways.
    As far as a potential date is concerned, I think I would choose a woman whose pictures were taken by someone else. I prefer images that are more spontaneous rather than technically perfect. And they imply that the person at least has a friend or friends who are available to take the pictures for them. Let’s not get carried away with technique or composition. We’re talking online dating here, not a PPA portfolio review.

  3. MagneticMike says:

    The lesson to be learned is… You cannot judge a book by its cover.

  4. Steve says:

    It seems perfectly plausible that the people with high end cameras are just better photographers. Most people don’t spend the money to buy and learn the best equipment without having a deeper-than-average interest in the field. I don’t see how you can draw the “better camera equals more attractive picture” conclusion without figuring in the skills of the photographer.

  5. beaver says:

    i think women look more attractive first thing in the morning. ust my opinion.

  6. Edgie says:

    Hm… I doubt Iphones actually get you laid more, my theory is that more people have the iphone than people with BlackBerrys and other 3G smart phones.

  7. Hugh says:

    Any photographer could have told us this without all the stats.

    1. “busy” photos are less attractive. So the more background detail, the less appealing. The more in focus extra detail, the less atttractive. Wider aperture softens details everywhere, and creates shallow depth of field, blurring backgrounds, focusing attention on person.

    2. Softer warmer light is more flattering. Again, details like wrinkles in older people will be softened.

    3. Flashes — especially the evil flashes on point and shoots — are cold, harsh and terrible. Artificial light is typically cruel, which is why professionals spend so much to get lights that mimic natural lighting.

    4. Harsh shadows, unless dramatic, are bad. Again, go for softer, more even lighting.

    5. Point and shoots and camera phones ALL have very very narrow aperture, increasing detail throughout, making a shallow depth of field pretty close to impossible. The lenses of these cams are wide angle, so close to the subject there is barrel distortion — very unflattering.

    A good portrait photo is flattering, attentive, intimate (in a general sense), occasionally dramatic, brings good attention to the subject.

  8. karen says:

    Interesting! I’ll recommend the article

    ~thanks

  9. Joan Janes says:

    I agree with James. Since when does being younger equate to attractiveness?

    I know some pretty fugly 20 year olds, while I am a 40 something and am considered a MILF by my daughters friends in high school.

    However, I did learn some interesting things about cameras from this article and am planning on purchasing a SLR camera to obtain better picture quality.

  10. Steve says:

    Daniel:
    “to the poster who was astonished at the “low” average number of sex partners at age 30:
    6-12 is not low.”

    It’s not? Think about it this way: Even if someone doesn’t lose their virginity until they’re 18 (later than average), that would only be one partner every one to two *YEARS*. That means they were either in some really long relationships in their 20’s, or just weren’t getting any. If hooking up more than once a year makes me a slut, as you say, I’ll gladly accept that title. :)

    I’m not questioning the accuracy of the survey, I’m just saying this sample does not have a lot of sex partners regardless of what phone they used. The difference between numbers that small over that many years is pretty insignificant.

  11. SUZANNE says:

    I THINK IT HAS A LOT TO DO WITH HOW GOOD THE CAMERA IS. I DON’T LIKE PICTURES ON MY PHONE TOO MUCH. AND ON WEB CAM YOU HAVE SIT ONE WAY

  12. John Mac says:

    Maybe the amount of sex re. iPhone v Blackberry v Android Smartphone is socio-economic. The most expensive phones are owned by those who get laid more which makes sense since they probably have a better car & can throw more cash about.

    It would be interesting to apply some of this research to ethnicity of those attracted. I bet they would differ since IMO the weighting of what people find attractive varies with ethnicity.

    The camera will not matter as much as the subject matter (facial expression, framing, lighting, etc.)

  13. mort says:

    Obviously, the beautiful people have expensive, nice cameras and iphones.

  14. Noel says:

    The lesson to be learned is… You cannot judge a cover by its book.

  15. Ryan I says:

    You guys seriously missed a great opportunity–or are hiding the data. What is the effect of these cameras on duckface? What is the effect of duckface pictures on attractiveness and dating?

    Personally, I only see duckface on mobile camera pics. Do the higher quality cameras remove duckface, like red eye reduction? Or do we not notice duckface, since the picture itself is of a much higher quality?

    Hopefully this can be included in your next study.

  16. Ron says:

    I’m an experienced photographer. I do have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this article. It makes a lot of sense.

    I see a lot of people feeling offended by the article. Makes no sense to me, because it was basically some tongue and cheek remarks responding on actual data. Whats offensive about it? They didn’t make up that iphone users get laid more, that’s just what they figured out. People need to lighten up.

    Iphones have blown up so much over the years, and it seems everyone has one. They are trendy, and popular among a youthful, socially active culture. Which would explain why they get laid more.

    I was shocked at the Panasonic Lumix. #1 That camera is awesome, but I don’t think it’s the camera that’s sooo great it makes you look better, but the fact that no one who isn’t a talented photographer could even comprehend why they would want that camera. Same with the Leica… If you’re buying 2000 dollar digital rangefinder cameras, chances are you know what you’re doing.

    Of coarse canon DSLR falls behind to third place, because everyone and their brother is taking shots with that basic 18-55 on a digital rebel. Yup.. buy an SLR and stick with the cheapo lens, and you’re automatically a photographer!! **Sarcasm

    Either way… great article… thanks guys :)

  17. jwillman711 says:

    The “sex based on phone” is jipped. Everyone knows the iPhone has been out a few years before android & has more hype, so of course more people are gonna have em. They’re more popular right now. Same goes with blackberries. Androids are the newest, & so have the least amount of users of those 3. Less users = less people to interview, so less responses of sex, so it appears as less sex… I’ve had more sex this year since getting my android then all my previous years I had sex. Plus the pix taken by it are amazing. Droid X came out just a little to late for me to buy, but it surpasses the iPhone easy. Take that, Apple.

  18. Charles says:

    Fun article, but why doesn’t the author mention the massive selection biases in every one of the plots? Mental note: buy stock in SLR cameras.

  19. Alex says:

    I don’t feel like reading through 300+ comments to see if this has been pointed out, but of all the OkTrends posts I’ve read, this has the sloppiest research. Not once was it pointed out that pictures taken with dSLRs are far more likely to be portrait or glamor shots taken by a professional photographer, and of course would look better. I know it’s impossible to tell who took the photo from the EXIF tags, but I feel that there should have been a large disclaimer about it on the conclusions that are drawn.

  20. Sarah says:

    Wow, this is SO messed up. If people are so shallow that they only want to date people with “professional” looking photos, that’s sad. I prefer my photos look like down-to-earth, everyday photos – and most of all “realistic.” Yes, make sure you can be plainly seen are aren’t in horrible, cold lighting, but going so far as to use a fancy camera?

    As for iPhones… most people today think nothing of sleeping around, so it doesn’t also surprise me that most people think nothing of shelling out lots of money for an over-priced phone that makes them look cool. To me, it just makes them look like an unoriginal, robot (not the case for “all” iPhone users of course).

    Just be real folks… be genuine and humble…. think for yourself, form your own opinions, and don’t be out to impress everyone. These are the type of people that catch my eye… not perfect photos and iPhone users. ;)

  21. Steve says:

    John Mac:
    “Maybe the amount of sex re. iPhone v Blackberry v Android Smartphone is socio-economic. The most expensive phones are owned by those who get laid more which makes sense since they probably have a better car & can throw more cash about.”

    Not sure if you were joking or not. This would actually be a plausible theory, except that Androids ($199-$249) cost the same as or slightly more than iPhones ($199). Not sure what Blackberries go for these days, but I would guess it’s in the same ballpark.

    I still say that the difference between 6 and 12 partners by age 30(!) is negligible at best. We’re talking about the difference between ubernerds and uber-ubernerds.

  22. tendermensch says:

    I find no good way to convey this, but perhaps this ‘posting’ will work. OKC would make me (and perhaps a few others) sublimely happy (well, perhaps a slight exaggeration) pleased – if you enabled search by the criteria that THEY post as desirable. In my case, i hate to have to open hundreds (thousands?) of profiles to get to the bottom and find that I’m totally out of the age range of their interest – but today came across a somewhat younger woman who is specifically seeking men in my age range – How about saving useless wastes of time, or does that me we’re more exposed to ads and thus, it’s not in your interest to have a happier user, but one who sees fewer advertisements?

    I don’t look at this blog often, so perhaps you might answer with a note to my ‘handle’? I see no “suggestion box” here – perhaps I’ve been obtuse?

    h

  23. Bob says:

    Professional or not, in Photography…lighting is everything!
    It doesn’t matter if the photo is shot by a pro or not. Just remember, you will get better looking shots of people if you shoot them with soft (diffuse) lighting from above. Then take lots and lots of different pics in many locations and choose the best ones. Most of the other info (camera brands, and phone types) won’t make any difference at all!

  24. Gordon says:

    @Ron

    re: The Pana m4/3. Assuming it’s not just a statistical anomaly because of likely small numbers, it actually makes sense.

    1.) I’m sure it’s not the best camera in the survey but it’s plenty good.

    2.) It’s a very recent, enthusiast camera so it could very well be appealing to more serious photographers on average than the *average* Nikon or Canon DSLRs (which include a lot of entry-level SLRs that are never used with anything but the cheap zoom they came with.)

    I agree with what seems to be the general consensus that, camera phones aside, we’re seeing the effect of better photographers taking better/more interesting pictures more than we’re seeing the effect of the cameras themselves. Though equipment helps too, of course.

  25. Gustavo Mcbo says:

    everyone knows: the best camera phones are by Nokia, with Carl Zeiss Lens ;-)

  26. IphoneSucks...lol! says:

    IPhone owners get laid more? Ha!ha!
    It’s just that they’re fucking liars!

  27. duhh says:

    your failing to account for the fact that iphone users are obsessed with looks and therefor more likely to have pictures available on the internet to judge hence iphone users have more sex duh stupid apple

  28. mike says:

    Hi OKTrends. I love you.
    I spent the last hour or so catching up with the previous OKTrends posts and found that it was a hassle to go from one blog post to the next, in order. Here are the steps:

    1) Start on an old blog post
    2) Look for a link saying “previous post” or “next post”. Find nothing.
    3) Notice that there are links to blog posts in the green “Favorites” box to the right side of the page.
    4) Realize that they’re all out of order, so click over to the “All posts” tab.
    5) Scroll down to find the title of the post you just finished reading
    6) Click the post above it
    7) Realize that that box just reset itself to the “Favorites” tab and scrolled back up to the top, so you’re going to have to repeat steps 4-6 for each post, until you’ve read them all.

    Here’s my suggestion:

    1) Start on an old blog post
    2) Look for a link saying “previous post” or “next post”. Find one! Yay! Click it!

    I still love you.

  29. Weezy says:

    Read as:

    iPhone users more likely to lie about sexual partners

  30. Radu says:

    I’ve been searching these days for a DSLR camera and lenses and have noticed that the lenses that permit a lower f number are darn expensive. That leads me to thinking that lower f means a professional photographer, which gives pose directions and also makes some touches afterwards on the pictures.
    Just my two cents on this…:)

  31. Charles says:

    That f/stop analysis was a bit off on one end. The f/1.2 example comes in at most attractive. But F/1.2 lenses cost like $2000 and many are specifically designed for portraiture, like the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 II USM.

    So what you’re really saying is that pictures taken with camera rigs specifically designed for portraiture produce the most attractive portraits.

  32. 123 says:

    with this site, you’ve found a way to have fun with social stats and make income :-)

    “Kodak all the way to the right there. They might want to consider making sharing more difficult” or make it more difficult for bad photographers to get a shot. ;-)

    anyway, don’t give away our secret, the women with outdoor direct sunlit photos are the sleepers :-)

    oops

  33. 123 says:

    the problem with shallow dof is that those photos look commercial (scammy). I don’t see any advantage to them if the subject is in focus anyway.

  34. 123 says:

    “iPhone v Blackberry v Android”
    smart people get laid the least.
    the better phones running android-os have best performance:price ratio, therefore greater androids ownership is also correlated to intelligence.

  35. 123 says:

    http://cdn.okcimg.com/blog/camera/TimeOfDayGrid.png
    The “late night” peak is actually an “early AM” peak. I explain it by a combination of “birds of a feather” and the “beeer goggles” phenomena… or possibly simply vampire lust. (I’m assuming most shots after dark are indoors.. but, that leads to an apparent *contradiction* with the “flash is bad” phenomenon.)

    “Then visit the nearest Apple store.”
    That last recommendation doesn’t make sense, because you’d be buying the iphone after taking your photos, and the iphone still gives worse photos than some P&S.

  36. Joe says:

    I’m not one to bitch too much, since I like your site and all, but amid all the numbers and Excel hoo-ha, you might want to remember that correlation does not indicate causation. I mean, except for pirates. If you graph the decline of pirates (the sea-faring kind) against the average temperature of the earth in the same time frame, you’ll see that their decline is the reason for global warming–I swear, it’s true. Enjoy international Talk Like a Pirate Day (9/19)!!

  37. Marc says:

    Maybe I missed this in the previous comments, and maybe it has nothing to do with the ugliness/prettiness of someone behind a camera lens. In the example with different depths of field with different apertures, the photos that were provided with each different F setting were not all taken by the same camera/photographer where the subject had to be a set distance from the lens and the background a set distance behind the subject. If these numbers are different for each picture (which they are), you can’t just look at the pictures and see the exact difference between a comparisons of F stops. Sure you can just try to find pics that had different F numbers that look to line up with right amount of bokeh, but it’s hardly a science. Just my thoughts…pretty much irrelevant to the article I suppose…enjoy :)

  38. AA says:

    well, interesting idea to analyze the effect of mobile brands on sexual behavior! but I am disappointed to see this piece of research sited to support the over generalized statement that iphone users have more sex. Its also manipulative how such studies use words like “finally a scientific proof” to make a buzz in favor of some brands!

    obviously the study lacks any scientific evidence with no cause and effect analysis. Its unclear whether the use of iphone is affecting its users’ sexual activity or that iphone users’ profile corresponds to the ones who are more sexually active. it’s also misleading to conclude that the average number of sexual partners indicates ‘high sexual activity’ or ‘more sex’. not to mention that this research has only been conducted among 30 years old OkCupid users who are by no means a representation of the bigger US society or other countries/cultures.

  39. Yls Novak says:

    Being an ower of a Android i will point out the fact that the guy who hold the phone isn’t the one taken in picture. All my friends have iPhone so i’m saved ^^

  40. marc says:

    “Hm… I doubt Iphones actually get you laid more, my theory is that more people have the iphone than people with BlackBerrys and other 3G smart phones.”

    cool theory, bro. the higher the sample size (more people have iphones), the potential sampling error, which is to say if more people have iphones, the closer that number is to being the actual average [higher] # of partners.

  41. rauf says:

    Some person like to love and deeply invoped in love but some person dont like gril and love . I dont know why they hate the love who they love belived that belived God . i like grils and love i dont more explain on love but ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………I like all the person who belived love and dont belived love. that is my comment what is ur comment .

  42. Jon says:

    Shit… I bought the wrong phone.

  43. Chris says:

    Regarding the smartphones. you can’t assume that the subject of the picture actually owns the phone that the picture was taken with. so you can’t say that female iphone owners are promiscuous, only that females who allow themselves to be photographed by iphones are…

    hmmm. time to get an iphone?

  44. jen says:

    About okcupid i use to have an account there, and u can not count okcupid the only phone that can access to okcupid using by phone was iphone users, just recently they add android phones,. And others smart phones cam access to okcupid, so of course iphone win it was the only one.

  45. Heather says:

    Whoever keeps writing these journal posts: stop misusing statistics and coming to half-assed conclusions. We get it: you want the supposedly “uneducated,” “unattractive” ppl, and at times those who are still learning the English language; the ppl you stereotype in other posts to send you hate mail. Get a life! Unless you plan on getting this shit peer-reviewed, you’re wasting ppl’s brain power that could be better spent reading real research.

  46. Andy says:

    I LOVED reading this! It’s so true about the cameras. A DSLR (thank goodness I have one :P) makes someone seem more attractive, as well as the f/stop! The guy at +0.4 is adorable :)

  47. jazzbo02 says:

    More fun stuff! Better cameras can take better pictures, true. Soft light is better than bright light. But the photographer’s skill makes the most difference.

    Ladies, just don’t try to hide in the shade completely. If we can’t see you, we won’t message you.

  48. Chris says:

    Re: “iPhone v Blackberry v Android”
    That is the number of partners on the Y-axis, not number of sexual acts per day, week or whatever. The author equates more partners to more sex. Considering that the gap between lovers is by definition a zero sex interval. One-night stands are just that, with each followed by another gap. If there are more lovers, there are more gaps, and a better chance of having less sex, not more. Extended relationships logically provide better opportunity for more sex.

    The graph reflects just as many gaps as it does lovers and thus more accurately reflects an inability to stay with a partner for whatever reason, a tendency to choose the wrong partner or perhaps just a tendency to flit from flower to flower. It indicates lack of staying power, an inability to maintain a relationship when the physical relationship isn’t fresh and hot.

    An alternative conclusion is that a certain phone is associated more easily with more drama, more relational volatility and increased risk for an STD or two.

  49. circ-u-lar-logic says:

    As a photographer, I can tell you, these wide aperture lenses are quite expensive, and for someone to use it wide open, let alone actually own an f1.2, they’d have to know what they’re doing already, or be in low-light conditions, because the camera tries to close the aperture a little to increase sharpness, as lenses are soft wide open, and an aperture that wide is really bright.

    You’d have to be a real pro to use an f1.2 lens. The canon 85mm f1.2 is the price of a small car, and the Nikon 50mm f1.2 is manual focus. I don’t even think Nikon makes an 85mm f1.2, but their 85mm f1.4 is over a thousand dollars.

    However, there is portrait mode on DSLRs, which would lean towards a more opened aperture, and interchangeable lenses have far wider apertures and better results than point-and-shoots, so that might account for some improvement in quality, but I’d still say that between f1.2 and f1.8, it was probably someone more professional taking the shot. f1.8 is relatively standard, for even a semi-pro. And anything below f2.8 starts to lean towards amateur. f3.5 is the standard kit lens and not the best aperture for portraits, but even still, you can zoom in and get really close to reduce depth of field with lenses that aren’t quite as wide.

  50. Steven says:

    A theory about the complexity of a camera to the effectiveness of the shot can all boil down to the skill of the user.

    A person with the knowledge of an effective shot and the eye to criticize their own work will ultimately have the better shots, and are more likely to buy the more complex camera to achieve the results they’re looking for. They also have the passion and willingness to spend the money it takes to own such a camera.

    Someone with limited knowledge of how a camera works will more than likely fork out the necessary amount to buy a Point-&-Shoot. These people are also probably just social picture takers and most commonly take what I refer to as “Party Pics.” These are groups of people together having a good time while docmenting the memories via the P&S camera. The experienced and knowledgable photographer is probably not going to have their $600+ camera (including the plethora of [$$$] accessories) with them during these types of events, so even they won’t be getting results in this type of atmosphere. However, those without the knowledge, and with the P&S already will probably not see the benefit of going out and spending even more money for a second camera that requires more work to get similar results than they’re used to from a SECOND camera that’s bigger and more expensive (and possibly more fragile and higher maintanence) than what they already have.

    The cell phone picture user, I’m guessing, is the majority of solo photos taken. These are the ones in a dressing room, bathroom, bedroom, car, etc. These people feel that they look good at that precise moment and want to capture it. They are probably a ridiculously high percentage of the “myspace angle” shots as well, seeing as they are small, light, and easy to hold at such a nose-bleed inducingly high angle.
    They’re probably the majority of photos of events that seem almost random as well (riding a $.25 elephant machine in a mall or on a sidewalk; trying on a goofy mask in a store; pretending to lick a favorite character on a movie poster; etc.). These are the average day when someone doesn’t normally expect to need a camera, but had one available at the time when spontaneity kicked in. The quality of the photo might be bad, but the story behind it was so much more worth the profile space to that person.

    I guess it just comes down to affordability and level of photographic commitment. The results of photographic quality run conversely with the price of the camera.

    Also, it’s almost ironic that we judge someone so harshly based on looks and photographic quality, yet the majority of users probably use equal or lesser tools and skills for their own works.