Since the launch of the Instagram Story feature it has arguably become the most popular (and possibly the biggest time waster?) as far as average daily time usage feature within the Instagram app. Not so long ago Instagram was a simple app used for sharing a single image at a time on your timeline, and telling a story about that post. Now it has become a fully featured social media behemoth with the aim of keeping your eyeballs on the app for as long as possible each day. To do this, Instagram have introduced a number of features to ensure you keep coming back as often as possible to consume content through the app.
Something we see quite often though is content being posted within Instagram Stories that is just simply not formatted correctly for the mobile phone screens they are being viewed through. Images are either too large or too small for the specific crop required to maximise and utilise the available screen “real estate”. Videos that are shot outside of the IG app are generally not formatted for the required resolution to make use of the full screen correctly.
Even though your Instagram Story posts stay live for only 24 hours, the quality of the images and stories you post are still a representation of your skills and your overall brand image. Quality content across all of your available channels is very important, particularly if you are a professional photographer of some kind.
So let’s take a look at how to format images and videos properly for your Instagram Story posts and to make the most of the screen resolution on offer within the app.
Instagram Story image posts
Images posted to your Story timeline use a 9:16 crop format for upright images (portrait orientation) or 16:9 if you want the viewer to rotate their phone to view it in landscape orientation. If you are shooting your images within the Instagram app this is automatically done for you, but for the photographers out there who like to take images from their SLR / mirrorless cameras, edit them and then post from there, the images need to be formatted with the correct crop. After processing the images via your favourite desktop / laptop editing suite of choice, it is very easy to shift the images files back to your mobile phone with Google Drive, Dropbox and many other similar services.
For anyone who doesn’t know how to crop an image to the required formats here is how to do it in Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop. It is also possible to do this in the mobile versions of those apps and many more which are available if your editing suite of choice is mobile based.
Here is a quick tip – if you are looking to post a landscape orientated version of your image (16:9 crop which will require the mobile phone to be rotated on it’s side to view it), once you have transferred the image back onto your mobile device you will then need to rotate the image within your camera roll / image library before posting it into Instagram Stories. You can also achieve this by rotating the image onto it’s side within Lightroom, Photoshop or most other commercial image editing suites before you transfer the image to your mobile phone. There is no option within Instagram to rotate the image on it’s side.
Getting around the 24 hour image post timeframe
Just like Snapchat before it (because IG Stories wasn’t a copy of Snapchat, was it?), Instagram only allows images that are less than 24 hours old to be posted into Instagram Stories. So for those that want to take images from their DSLR / mirrorless cameras and post them, the time limit can be quite restrictive. Instagram looks at the EXIF data of an image to determine how old it is, so taking an image that was shot in 2015, editing it and transferring it to your is just not going to work.
But there is always a way around these things – once you have an image in your mobile phone camera roll and it is in the correct orientation for you to post, take a screenshot of it! You will need to ensure you rotate the image within the camera roll app as is shown in the image above if you want a landscape 16:9 orientation, unless you have already done it prior to transferring it back to your mobile phone for this to work correctly. The screenshot itself gets registered as an image that has been created straight away and as long as that screenshot is less than 24 hours old, you can then post it into Instagram Stories. Easy hey?
Instagram Story video posts
Videos created for Instagram Story posts can only be 15 seconds long. They also use the exact same crop as images which is 9:16 for upright (portrait orientation) and 16:9 for landscape orientation. Something to remember though is that you cannot actually record video through the Instagram app in landscape (16:9) format. All videos recorded within the app are portrait (upright 9:16) orientation only which means you will need to rotate any videos created within any app that allows you to record with your phone turned on it’s side. If you are recording video from a camera other than your phone you would then need to use a video editing suite such as Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere to correctly format and save your video for posting into Instagram Stories.
Rather than writing a full tutorial on how to do this ourselves, we have found this video which explains the process for many video editing suites and also explains how to get around the 24 hour post limit. Take a look for yourself and hopefully it should be easy enough for you to follow a similar process in your video editing suite of choice.
Filters / Lenses
At present, Instagram does not offer some of the features that have made Snapchat so popular like the lenses that recognise objects in an image such as faces and overlays them with animated filters. Instagram does though offer very simple overlays such as the time, temperature, location and emojis. Just because the funky Snapchat lenses are currently not on offer within Instagram itself doesn’t mean you cannot make use of them though. It is quite simple – install the Snapchat app, record your video with your lens of choice, save it to your camera roll and post as an IG Story. So now your Instagram Story experience can be a complete rip off (or should we say copy?) of that offered within Snapchat.