What's The Real Truth Behind This Viral Underwater Group 'Selfie'?

Hint: It's not what it looks like!

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Take a good look at this beautiful image:

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It was posted on /r/Pic, the subreddit for pictures, around early 16 January, captioned as 'Best group selfie award goes to...'. A few hours later, it was on 9GAG, raking in hundreds of comments.

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In fact, the underwater group 'selfie' went so viral that Elite Daily picked it up and labelled it as 'The Best Group Selfie Of 2015'

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While it's a gorgeous shot of a bunch of friends posing for the camera — with the boys fully submerged underwater and the girls above on a boat; there's something about it that's very puzzling. How did they manage to take such a crazy but beautiful shot?

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Puzzled with my own query (and slightly skeptic about the photo's authenticity), I decided to do a little digging around the Internet to try and see if I could track the original photo. It didn't take much before a simple reverse image search sent me to an Instagram account of a certain someone named Thiago M L Correa.

The Instagram account of Correa had the same underwater group 'selfie' posted on 15 January with over 34K Likes and even a comment by the official account of NatGeo appreciating it

It was good enough proof that it's real. But just then I scrolled down the comment section, only to see someone mentioning that the image is NOT real. The comment credited another Instagram user. Upon visiting the mentioned user's account, I saw this:

The Instagram user, Luiz Amaral, who was credited in the comment section of Correa's post, had the same photo - minus the guy taking the 'selfie', only that it was posted 5 days earlier

So what really happened there?

Let me explain:

Luiz posted an amazing photo of him and friends having fun inside and out of water.

Correa sees the photo and picks it up. Photoshops himself inside the photo and shamelessly posts on his account, captioning Just chilling with tha(sic) crew.

The Internet, meanwhile, notices the Photoshopped post by Correa (because he has way more followers, 155K, than Luiz) and dubs it as the Best group selfie...

How do I know Correa guy Photoshopped himself in it? Well, thanks to the same subreddit where it was posted, where after a little digging, I came across this GIF posted by user tifanani.

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For better clarity, here's an explainer as offered by another user named hazie:

"It would appear that a man has taken a selfie in a swimming pool and shopped himself into a picture of rich attractive people. This is why the sun refracts through the ripples differently onto he and his "friends": it is refracting through different water. The ripples in pool water rebound off the pool walls, making for a higher concentration of smaller ripples rather than a lower concentration of larger ones."

However, chances are even the original photo is not so original


Because, as user hazie correctly points out, there does not appear to be any sign of the boat below the water, and even though the boys have left a trail of bubbles that would indicate they had submerged quite forcefully only a moment before, the water directly above them is undisturbed.

To sum up, in the words of user hazie:

Five young men wanted to be on a boat with six young ladies, and edited themselves into this fantasy. A sixth man wanted to be like the other five, and edited himself into it once more.

In the end, I guess, this is what we're going to have to live with:

Behind-the-scenes cartoon that I picked up from Correa's Facebook wall, where he was trying to use it to prove how it apparently took the 'selfie'

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