Editing and preparing your images for Instagram can be a little confusing, especially if you are trying to crop or resize your images on a desktop or laptop computer ready for posting. There are multiple image sizes available for Instagram feed posts, and as of writing this only one size for posting as an Instagram Story. Typically if you are taking photos with an SLR camera, or if you are preparing any other form of image for Instagram some work will need to be done to ensure your images are presented properly, and to the maximum potential of the platform when you post them.
There are specific sizes, dimensions and crop factors that work within the maximum and minimum post size restrictions, but it is also possible now to post between these dimensions for images posted onto the main feed as well. Instagram used to be a platform that only allowed square images which made this process a lot easier. But since the changes to allow different size images, photographers (and other artists) have far more flexibility in what they post. With the launch of the Story feature, unless you are shooting using the camera option within the Instagram app you will possibly be shooting at a different resolution than is required for maximum impact within the app.
Let’s take a look a the maximum and minimum dimensions and crop factors of Instagram feed images as well as the current sizes for pictures and videos posted as Story posts. This post is current of 2017 and I will update this as any changes are made in the future.
Instagram Square Image Dimensions
Instagram Square Post Image Sizes – 1080 pixels wide x 1080 pixels high
Instagram Square Post Crop Factor / Ratio – 1 : 1
If you have been using Instagram for any period of time you would be aware that posts were previously only allowed in your feed as square images. This posed a lot of challenges for photographers who needed to adapt their shooting style to suit this requirement. Mobile phone cameras have had the option to select a square shooting format for a while now, and if images were shot within Instagram with this restriction in place they would have been square only. Thankfully Instagram opened up the options to post in multiple dimensions and sizes, and in my opinion this has allowed photographers to be far more creative with what they post.
In my experience I have found that square posts do not get as much engagement as the new portrait / tall image size, but they get a higher amount of engagement on average than the wide / landscape formatted images do.
Instagram Portrait / Vertical Image Dimensions
Instagram Portrait Post Image Sizes – 1080 pixels wide x 1350 pixels high
Instagram Portrait Post Crop Factor / Ratio – 8 : 10
When Instagram started to allow different sized images to be posted, this was the size and dimension many photographers instantly started to use. The key factor to this image size being so successful is the fact it utilises a larger percentage of the screen, which maximises the impact of the post size. On most mobile devices it is not quite full screen which still allows part of the caption, account name and also location to be visible when scrolling through your feed. Across all of the Instagram accounts I operate I definitely find this image size to be the most successful in terms of engagement rates. I am also of the opinion that a lot of bigger hubs and feature accounts are more likely to share this image on their accounts as well as they will also be looking to maximise engagement and reach for any images they share.
Instagram Landscape / Horizontal Image Dimensions
Instagram Landscape Post Image Sizes – 1080 pixels wide x 566 pixels high
Instagram Landscape Post Crop Factor / Ratio – 540 : 283
When it comes to image dimensions to post to Instagram, in my personal opinion this is the size that will generate the least reach and engagement of any post. I am sure there are examples of very high quality images out there that do get great engagement, but on average I would be expecting much less from landscape / horizontal posts that use the minimum dimensions. Quite simply, images using this size take up a very small portion of most smart phone screens. Even with the pinch and zoom feature it can be difficult to get the full impact of an image that is displayed so small. If Instagram implemented a screen rotation feature so these images could be displayed a lot bigger, I am sure many people would start to use this size more. But until then, my advice would be to focus on the other sizes that are available to be used.
Instagram Story Image / Video Post Dimensions
Instagram Story Post Image Sizes – 1080 pixels wide x 1920 pixels high
Instagram Story Post Crop Factor / Ratio – 9 : 16
The Instagram Story feature is now the most widely used feature of the Instagram platform. People are consuming more content via this feature and spending far more time looking at it than the main feeds. It can be a little confusing to create content for Story posts though as the camera in the Instagram app shoots as a different crop factor to the main camera on most smart phones. If you want to present your story posts in the best possible way any images or videos should be sized at 1080 pixels wide and 1920 pixels high. This equates to a 9:16 crop factor. With the variety of different screen sizes on offer across mobile devices it is good to know that a single crop factor is what will be needed to maximise the impact of these images. I am guessing that this may change in future as smart phone manufacturers continue to release devices with different screen resolutions.
If you are creating content from within the Instagram app as a story post, the camera will shoot at the exact dimensions required. This makes it a little easier to post images at the correct size, but also means images taken outside of the app may not be the correct size unless they are edited specifically for this purpose.
Other popular image sizes and crop factors
Popular Instagram Post Image Sizes – 1080 pixels wide x 810 pixels high
Instagram Popular Post Crop Factor / Ratio – 4 : 3
As mentioned above it is possible to resize your images to sizes in between the above mentioned sizes, and one of those popular sizes is the 4:3 crop @ 1080 pixels wide x 810 pixels high. This is a size that is in between the square and smaller wide crop, and is extremely popular in landscape photography. Some SLR cameras can not be set to shoot in a 4:3 crop factor which means you could possibly be posting an image at the exact ratio it has been shot at. This allows you to compose your scenes exactly how you want them to be displayed one you share them on Instagram.
Editing your Instagram images for the correct image sizes and dimensions
If you are shooting your images on an SLR camera or even a mobile device and want to crop them for a specific size or dimension, just about every major image editing suite is going to allow you to resize them via a cropping tool. The crop tool is going to be the best way to ensure your image is not being resized in a way that squashes, stretches or warps them. I tend to use Lightroom or Photoshop to do all of my editing, and the crop tools are very easy to use. Depending on the original crop factor of the image when it is shot, you will most likely be losing part of the image when you crop it so composing your original scene in a way that allows for this is very important. I also tend to use different crop factors for different platforms, so there may be multiple versions of my images available depending on how they are being used.
Once images are cropped and prepared for the correct format, I recommend saving a version for Instagram that is exactly 1080 pixels wide at the exact crop format as shown above. Every image that is posted in to Instagram gets resized to this exact width, so if you are cropping your images to be portrait sizing at 8:10, the width will be 1080pixels and your software should automatically be calculating the height of 1350 pixels. The same goes for any crop format you use. Just save them at 1080 pixels wide and your software should be calculating the height correctly for you at that specific crop factor.