By Victor Luckerson
May 21, 2015

Are you the kind of person who proudly attaches a #NoFilter hashtag to your photos online so that people know the pictures are authentic? Well, you’re missing out on a whole lot of likes, comments and other Millennial manna.

And now there’s data to prove it.

Researchers at Yahoo, in partnership with a professor at Georgia Tech, have published a new study analyzing how filters impact engagement on Yahoo’s photo-sharing site Flickr. According to the study, filtered photos are 21% more likely to be viewed than non-filtered photos and 45% more likely to be commented on. Photos with filters that project warm colors tend to drive more engagement than cooler filters (though we’re unconvinced anyone ever “likes” photos filtered with Kelvin, the overly orange tint available on Instagram)

By interviewing photographers, researchers also discovered different motivations for using filters. Serious photographers use filters to correct coloring errors or bring attention to specific objects. More casual photo-takers, meanwhile, use filters as a means of personalization or to achieve a general “vintage” feel.

While the study focused on Flickr users, it’s safe to say the findings apply to Instagram as well—in fact, more than half of the photos researchers analyzed had been cross-posted from Instagram to Flickr. So next time you’re trying to ensure that your latest picture will get that coveted 11th like, embrace the filter (but again, please, don’t use Kelvin).

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