Based on Instagram being so important and popular for photographers at this particular time, and as a follow up on some Instagram tips I wrote about before, we constantly look for ways to stand out and be different or better.
Today I will talk about one of my favorite ways to do that and even provide a few of my custom Photoshop actions for free.
Panoramic or Cinematic
There are a few neat tricks with the new multi-photo layout within an Instagram post. One of them is to do a super wide panorama, by splitting your image into multiple parts. This takes advantage of Instagram's new-ish feature of allowing multiple images per post.
There are a couple reasons to do this, if you don’t and you scale the image down to fit in your post, especially on a panorama, your subject’s face is likely to be very small. I personally am always looking for ways to display images bigger, which can show more detail and quality (or enhance flaws, but that’s another discussion). So, enter the stitch image panorama. Basically you create a set of square images (in this example, 3) - and split your image across them. I’ve created an action to create these images for you… and will demonstrate it in the video below (Link to actions at bottom of article).
When done right, this looks really cool when someone is scrolling through your feed. I like to put something along the lines of “swipe to see the rest of the photo” in the caption (You could add that to the “left” image as well, on the photo if you felt it was necessary).
The benefit is you can get a crop that you would otherwise have to add padding on the top and bottom to fit within Instagram’s criteria, as well as your image is visually bigger, and can enhance the cinematic feel to the photo, while showing the subject in more detail.
You can see this panoramic example currently demonstrated on my Instagram: @cvpportraits
Another option is the square grid. In this example we’ll use a 9-up square grid with the same principle, which is to show your image larger than otherwise possible.
This method comes with a unique benefit in that, when scrolling through a feed one of the images on it’s own is usually not "obvious" what it is, which when combined with a caption that suggests it, can entice your visitor to go to your profile, which has your website link that’s clickable. Any time I can get the user to go to my profile page, rather than just seeing a photo in the feed is always a good thing, as any opportunity to put your customer where there’s a link to your website is just that much more opportunity for them to click… which can lead to more bookings. It’s a numbers game at that point, not saying this will definitely increase your bookings but it can certainly create the likelihood of more traffic referred from your Instagram to your website.
Then the other, and more obvious, benefit is that it looks cool and different than most are used to seeing.
This method does have a drawback, depending on how you post. After doing this, future posts need to be in increments of three, otherwise the grid gets mis-aligned and looks bad. I don’t always wish to post in increments of three, so when I post one of these I leave it up for awhile and then delete the squares and return to normal posting. This also serves to not “overdo” something like this. Unless you chose to do it with every picture, which would create a certain styled feed that may work for you, that’s your call.
My action easily created the grid for you, and even numbers a reference so you know which pictures to post in which order for the grid to display properly.
Here's a view of a 6-up grid (only using six, since in this case I felt the bottom took away from it):
Tutorial and Demonstration
Here's a short video tutorial, showing you the use of these two actions, As well as how to post the panoramic to Instagram and make sure that you keep the images in the correct order that they need to be.
You don’t always have to fill the whole picture with a panorama, here’s an example of accomplishing two purposes at the same time. By putting the subject’s face more to the left which might entice a person to swipe if it’s half visible, and also to add a marketing message to the side as shown here: (During the "stop" in the action where you place your image, you don't have to be limited to just an image, you could put text other images, marketing materials, arrows to guide the user to swipe, anything you see fit).
With either of these actions, I do certainly suggest using a higher-resolution image to begin with. I created the placeholder documents in a higher resolution than a single post would be because when you split it up into separate images each image on its own needs to be a certain size so that it is not pixelated when it goes to Instagram, so whatever the resolution that you would post a single image at you would need to triple that for a three image wide panoramic.
It is worthy to note that there are apps within the app store that allow you to create a square grid like our 9-up grid, (most of them cost a few bucks) - and they work pretty well. One reason for doing it this way instead, is you get the power of Photoshop to add your marketing messages, branding, etc. - Which I feel is valuable, if used properly.
Free Photoshop Actions
Here's a link to my free actions for these Instagram grids.
Have you seen other cool “outside the box” concepts with Instagram? Share them, as well as what you do with our actions in the comments.