Selfies* may have exploded in popularity, but the majority still suck. Now, though, software from MIT, which uses professional portraiture photography as inspiration to create dramatic images from humble snaps, could change that.

Researchers from MIT, along with a little help from some folks at Adobe and the University of Virginia, have developed an algorithm that uses the works of some of the best-known portrait photographers of all time—Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus and Martin Schoeller to name a few—to transform fairly crappy shots into something special. The team hasn't explained exactly what tweaks are performed but, as the video above shows, the results are impressive. A bit weird, occasionally, but generally impressive.

Some might argue that the results look more like over-tweaked shadows and light instead of actual portrait lighting, but for non-professionals, the results are still pretty amazing. The lighting effects might not be perfect, but they're way better than most of us can manage when wielding a DSLR, let alone an iPhone.

And the fact that Adobe's Robert Bailey told TechCrunch that the team is "looking at creating a consumer application utilizing the technology" is very exciting. Imagine an app that can turn any of your selfies* into something this great? We can't wait. [MIT via Engadget via Peta Pixel]

*Selfies is a horrible word that we're actively trying to find a suitable replacement for.