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Crop for Instagram, from Your Smartphone!

Photo Moment - July 05, 2019

Learn how, entirely on iOS, to crop images for Instagram. Not just the obvious “it's a 4:5 crop, d'uh!”, but how to “crop” a landscape (horizontal) or portrait (vertical) image and NOT crop any bits off, and how to build a two and even three tile slidable sequence for Instagram — ALL FROM YOUR SMARTPHONE.

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📄 Video Transcript 

This transcript has been automatically generated and is provided primarily for text searching purposes.

A Written Version of this Tip

Cropping and “Cropping” for Instagram's 4:5 Ratio

If you're posting to Instagram, you have to crop. That's all there is to it. Let's explore the options for dealing with it, specifically on mobile.

The first problem — cropping is necessary

Instagram crops to a 4:5 ratio, while most digital cameras shoot to either 2:3 (as vertical; 3:2 horizontal) or 3:4 (that's 4:3 in horizontal) ratio. That means that you have to crop your photo, pretty much no matter what kind of camera you're shooting on, if you want to post to Instagram.

And that's if you're dealing with vertical (portrait) photos. If you have a horizontal (landscape) photo, it gets worse. Instead of cropping a little off the top and bottom, you have to crop a lot off the sides!

The objective — fill the screen, and show your whole photo!

No matter the original orientation or aspect ratio, one of the golden rules of Instagram is to take up as much screen real estate as possible. You want your photo to be big, so as people scroll by, they're more likely to stop and interact with it. So that means using the full 4:5, no matter how your image was shot. 

The first problem — your photo looks better without the crop

Yeah, I know… when you shot the photo, you filled the frame and it looks amazing! You don't want to crop out a piece of it. So you really want to post the whole thing, but you can't! Here's an original 2:3 aspect ratio image, cropped to 4:5. Swipe back and forth to see how much is missing.

The first solution — build an image with white borders built in

Now we get to the meat of how to solve the problem. Instead of letting Instagram crop your image, you'll want to upload a photo that's the right 4:5 ratio, but has your 2:3 or 3:4 image inset with white borders. Here's an example of both side by side; the crop vs the bordered, in Instagram:

This works for landscape photos too, like this:

The second problem — white borders mess with your thumbnails

You may have noticed that these are real screenshots of real posts in my Instagram feed, and you may be asking yourself why I posted two versions; one that goes edge to edge, and one with the borders. One reason is pretty obvious; the borderless image takes up more screen real estate, so is more likely to be seen. The second reason though is the thumbnails. If you just upload a bordered photo, you'll see those borders in your thumbnails, like in my friend Sean Bagshaw's feed below. Check out the middle image:

And before you accuse me of poking fun at my friend, he did that on purpose to illustrate this issue… he talks about it one of his videos (linked below), and shows how to do what I'm doing but on the desktop in Photoshop!

The second solution — include both versions (and gain a secret bonus)

It's already been stated above, but yes, including both the cropped and the bordered image means you get the best of both worlds. Your image takes up maximum space on the viewer's screen, and you get the full thumbnail — but with a single swipe, viewers can see the original photo, as you intended it.

Plus, this has an additional benefit. Posts with multiple images will show up a second times in viewers' feeds if they don't swipe the first time! At least as of this writing (of course subject to change, because, Instagram), if you have two photos, and a viewer sees the first one but doesn't swipe to see the second, odds are good that your post will show up in their feed again, this time already on the second photo!

Next… now that you understand the what and why of the problem, learn how to fix it!

Leave a comment on YouTube

Comments from YouTube

So u can't just do it in the Instagram app?!?!??!
what a stuuupid app! Fantastic video btw.... u won't believe how hard i'm struggling to just find how to change a photo's size, so i can fit my landscape (screen-shot for YT vids in my case) image onto Instagram! It's ridiculous! 👍 'd ur vid
#OldManPaxus Rating: ★★★ ½
Is android that different from iphone? I can't "open in" to go directly to photoshop mix nor do I have the option to do a custom crop.
Thanks for the video, Joseph! Great content!
Hi, If you're into android, check out this app called Panoslice, solves this pretty much
Thank you! It's a soild tutorial. I really love this tutorial and was so excited following it then I found out that the android version of Photoshop Mix does NOT have custom canvas size option. T.T I would really love to know if there's any app that does for android.
@PhotoJoseph I never thought "resizing canvas size via typing in numbers" would be so rare. :)
Thanks for the complement, and yeah I know what you mean… it’s odd that it’s not a common feature!! Have you tried Snapseed?
@PhotoJoseph Yes Snapseed has been my main editor for a couple of years and I don't think it has it. I guess I'll stick to PS Express for now for it gets the job done somehow. :)
Good luck!
Nicely explained Sir 👌👍
Thats neat
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