Turns out, size does matter.
Let’s face it. Instagram has proved to be an invaluable tool for photographers (whether professional or hobbyist) to showcase their work and grow their network.
But it has its limitations, one being the aspect ratio. Here’s a cheat sheet you can use to maximise your photos’ exposure on the platform.
4:5 ratio: Highly recommended
This portrait orientation should not just be limited to actual portraits. In fact, I highly recommend it for just about everything.
First, it takes up the most screen real state when scrolling. And more real estate = more time. Remember that on this fast-paced platform, time is everything.
Second, it feels natural when viewing through a mobile device. Lastly, it has the biggest visual impact because it is taller than the traditional 1:1 ratio while still maintaining a wide dimension.
Now you know why your favourite photographers and content creators almost always upload in 4:5 ratio.
Before the monumental change in 2015, Instagram users before were only allowed to upload photos in a square format (1:1 ratio). It made sense because Instagram pays homage to the square Polaroid films. In fact, the original logo of Instagram is that of a Polaroid camera (a OneStep Land camera).
Anyway, if you need something wider than 4:5 ratio but want to avoid going landscape, then the trusty 1:1 is your go-to.
Any landscape crop ratio: Highly discouraged
Not only does this offer the smallest screen real estate, it looks weird when scrolling through a mobile phone.
The truth is, landscape photos generally perform the worst compared to 4:5 or 1:1 images on the platform. If you don’t care about engagement, then props to you.
I sometimes upload photos in this aspect ratio because there are images that I feel deserving to be showcased to my Instagram audience. Remember that posting content that’s native to the consumption of the platform is one of the most important skills to master in marketing your art.
However, the general rule is, when a photo is losing too much of the elements in it (subjects, light, composition) then it probably does not deserve to be shown on Instagram. After all, visuals are nothing without stories.