Photo: Coffee with friends by Anastasia Belousova

Most people think of photography as subjective. But what we’ve found at 500px is that preferences are actually quite predictable, once you analyze the data. And different demographics can have very different preferences. It stands to reason that if you know what your ideal customer responds to, you’re going to have more success in choosing images that convert.

Coffee by Vladislav Orachev on

Let’s look at this idea more closely using an example near and dear to the hearts of many: coffee! We examined the different preferences of men and women when it comes photographs of this highly enticing substance.

What women like

explosion in a cup by Abdulrhman Al Shidokhi on

Morning Coffee by Anastasia Belousova on

If you’re targeting a female audience, you’ll do well to show them close-ups of the ingredients and equipment involved in coffee making: ground beans, a grinder, or an elegant espresso machine dispensing coffee. Images of the coffee-making process showed the strongest preference among women, with 28% preferring these images more than all other images of coffee.

Women also appreciate photos of coffee paired with food. Namely sweet treats: donuts, biscotti, scones, and the like. Women liked coffee with food 25.42% more than all other images of coffee.

In third place, women liked photos featuring coffee and decorations (18.22%). The decorations were especially successful if they were artfully arranged coffee-related treats, such as sugar cubes and candy.

Women also liked photos of coffee in everyday life settings: coffee on a cold winter day, coffee with a book, a steaming coffee cup paired with blankets and journal. Women liked coffee in these settings 13.56% more than all images of coffee.

What about latte art? Those pictures etched in coffee and milk foam? Those played well with women, too, with women liking coffee art 11.02% more than all images of coffee.

What men like

What images do men prefer in the context of coffee? Why, women with coffee, of course.

Winter girl with coffee by Jozef Polc on

Men liked women with coffee 11.39% more than all images of coffee. (Interestingly, women liked women with coffee 36.86% less than all images of coffee).

If you’re looking to showcase coffee pictures that appeal to men, you want to focus on coffee as a social ritual: coffee with friends or with a romantic partner. Men liked images of coffee placed in an obviously social setting.

Best Friends by Evgeny [??] Tchebotarev on

Coffee with friends by Anastasia Belousova on

Other stylistic preferences

There were also stylistic contrasts in the preferences of men versus women. Men preferred minimalist photos whereas women liked more complex compositions. As for colors, men preferred neutral palettes or photos with black. Women liked palettes that were warm, pastel or vibrant.

Put this knowledge to work for your brand

A rather fascinating glimpse inside the minds of our fellow humans, no?

If you’re looking for ways to pinpoint which photos will convert your specific audience, get in touch today. 500px for Business can help you find the visual sweet spot for your audience and capture the custom images that turn them into loyal customers.