When Man Repeller’s Leandra M. Cohen published an article with a theory on how to get more likes on Instagram we were instantly intrigued given that more and more users are commenting on how difficult it is to really get seen.

Leandra explains in her article her theory that she’s noticed a stark contrast between published photos taken by a phone camera versus the professionally shot photos taken on professional cameras that we see so many influencers posting.

In an experiment, albeit not a straight out comparison and as she states “I’m not caring apples to apples” the results had us curious none the less. Cohen posted two similar photos on her account draped in jewellery and wearing a towel around her head bathleisure style, the first taken by her iphone, the second taken by a Canon SLR with a jaw dropping difference of 12,000 likes.

Shot with an iphone:

Shot with a Canon SLR

View this post on Instagram

Testing, testing…1/2/testing

A post shared by Man Repeller (@manrepeller) on

It is important to note that we have heard brands and influencers comment that the first photo always performs the best and similar posts following the first tend to never perform as best but it does point to an interesting theory.

Whether or not photos taken from an iPhone actually perform better due to the algorithm or because of the preference by audiences it is unclear but an unofficial conversation with Leandra and an employee from Instagram confirmed her long suspicions, that the images taken by a smart phone do in fact perform better. Leandra also did a mini quiz to gauge feedback on why smart phone photos may be doing better and these three reasons ruled by far:

1. The Authenticity Factor

Audiences find this content intimate and relatable, a way to truly connect.

2. Accessibility

We feel the photo-taker isn’t trying too hard (although we know isn’t always the case).

3. The Implications Of Professional Photos

With the rise of professionally taken photos, audiences are feeling advertised to with overly styled and perfected photos, it creates a lack of obtainability.

This provides a very interesting perspective on the way forward for content on Instagram but also how we create content for other platforms.

Our final thoughts? Regardless of the reason why phone-shot photos are performing better, there seems to be a overwhelming evidence supporting the fact that audiences are seeking out that genuine connection, they want to really be able to connect and relate to brands and influencers. There is a reason print publications have seen a decline, saturated and overused glossy images and advertising and lack of relatability.

More and more we’re seeing audiences want to see behind the scenes, the raw content, the bloopers, the content that promotes connection and inclusion, that makes us feel we are one in the same. This will be the new way forward for media as brands strive to cut through the noise and make real connections.


Images: @leandramcohen