A Unique Instagram Solution for 4:5 Images

When it comes to posting your portrait orientated images on Instagram, you are forced to confine your work into their 4:5 ratio. There are a few options including cropping, resizing your work, or using a third-party app to make it fit. Here's a unique solution that also includes optimal upload settings for Instagram.

If you are not looking to crop your work into the 4:5 ratio, your more common solutions are to add empty space on both sides either in Photoshop or in another app, or add some sort of pattern or photo behind it. In this video, photographer Dani Diamond shows his method of extending the image to transform his image into the 4:5 portrait orientation Instagram uses.  This method will not work for every vertical shot, but if you have negative space around your subject, there's a good chance it will. You can also give content-aware extend a try, depending on your background.

To wrap up the video, Diamond shares his optimal image settings for sharing his work on Instagram. If you are still seeing issues of compression when posting your work, give these a try to see if it improves the quality.

Do you shoot with the 4:5 ratio in mind? If not, how do you handle Instagram's portrait ratio? 

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11 Comments

David Love's picture

I just created a Photoshop template at 1080x1080,dump pics into it and either get creative or just duplicate resize and blur. So they can add dark mode and remove likes from showing but can't add code to leave the pic size uncropped? This is why they suck. Nobody shoots square pics.

I love this. Going to have to do the same. Thanks David

Martin Van Londen's picture

Historically people have shot square/non panorama formats.

David Love's picture

So it's made for Polaroids or are you going farther back?

David T's picture

Well, Instagram logo is a stylized polaroid camera and that was the original idea. Take quick photos in square format, put a faux retro/vintage filter on it, share with the world.

David Love's picture

That was before Facebook was threatened by it and then bought it out to ruin it.

I would prefer the option to post uncropped photos, especially since I like to crop in-frame. I used to duplicate and blur my background as well, I guess it depends on the image if I still do or just leave it white. Great work as always David!

Marco Fazio's picture

I am surprised how you can give this silly advice! Although the subject is unaltered, the objects in the background get distorted!
Look how 'nice' is the chair on the right, with some narrower and larger spaces in between the back frame :-)
Better go fishing ;-)

Marc Perino's picture

Apart from altering the background to a degree that it is not "real" anymore this trick only works for certain types of images. I sometimes do that but mostly with uniform backgrounds.

BUT the real point is that Instagram up to this day does NOT acknowledge that photography does not have to be produced by a phone camera and that there exist different formats in the world.

It might be true that for the first few years they tried to nudge people into using their phones rather than DSLRs (to make it more "insta") but nowadays many people are using professional cameras to shoot their images. And IG uses ads that were sometimes shot on Alexa or Red cameras to promote their business.

And you see film editors editing and heavily manipulating footage (resizing, panning&scanning) from widescreen movies just to fit the ridiculous size of the IG formats. Even Adobe introduced a tracker to better conform footage to the phone screen.
Everybody is changing their raw material that was shot and composed in a different way just to conform to the "standards" of IG. Instead of IG adapting to the needs of their users. (e.g. properly uploading images on a PC and decent iPad App).

If IG would care about photographers they would allow different formats. But they don't care about photographers they just care about ads and influencers. And the last group does not care about formats. They adapt to anything just to sell their stuff or partnerships.

*end of rant*🤓

You have some good points, but with regards to size. They have to keep the sizes locked down do to the vast variety of phones out there. Most phones nowadays shoot by default 16:9 ratio, but Instagram locks it to any size between 1:1, to 4:5 (square to portrait) or any size landscape. Otherwise it will look ugly on people's screens if they have a non-tall phone (as you can often see in some people's Instagram Stories). Given that new form factors and screen ratios are coming out every year, it's better they keep it that way. With Facebook or other apps, they can get away with it, but because Instagram is a image/video first social network, they got to cater to that. I do wish they got better image compression as the one they use often degrades the photos compared to other networks.

btw. it is not a bad idea to shoot always with some whitespace to have a 4:5 crop in mind. portraits often look much better in 4:5 then in 2:3. when shooting commercial stuff you should be used to shoot with whitespace in mind for typo logos etc … just saying