I have been getting emails and messages from several people lately asking how I resize my photos for Instagram, keeping the composition, and placing my logo on them. I figured that it would be easier to simply write here the process that I go through to do it, rather than keep repeating the same information multiple times.
The first thing that you have to understand is that Instagram forces you to post your photos in a square format, sized at 650px by 650px. The second thing that you should understand is that you need to export the images at the correct size and resolution if you wish to keep the photos looking sharp and of high quality. That means that they should be exported at 650px on the long side.
For my workflow, I use Lightroom, Photoshop, DropBox, and Instagram to handle all of the preparation and posting. I’ve tried a couple of other ways to post my photos on Instagram, but the following workflow has given me the best and most consistent results.
If you don’t want to go through the process that I follow below, and just want to post photos without IG cropping your photos, there are apps that you can install on your smartphone like Squaready and InstaSize. I don’t use either of those apps myself.
Step One – Lightroom
The first thing that I do is process my images normally, and prepare them for how I print them, or post them to my site. You can review that process in previous posts in this same post-processing section. I won’t repeat all of that here.
Once you have finished with all of your post-processing of the images, then you can begin selecting the images that you want to prepare for posting to Instagram.
In the Library module, select all of the images that you want to post to Instagram, and create a new collection of them. You can call it anything that you like, but I suggest that you use “IG” in the name, either at the beginning or the end, so that you remember what it is for.
Once you have selected them, and have created a new collection, you need to go through and see if you can crop any of them to a 1-to-1 ratio. You can use the crop tool for that, and select 1×1 as the ratio.
The ones that can be exported as 1×1 in ratio, can be processed solely in Lightroom, and can use your regular watermark (I used mine on the example below). These will be exported at 650px x 650px.
The ones that are able to be resized as squares are easy, and that is all you have to do for them in resizing. For all of these, you can jump down to Step Three – DropBox, and skip Step Two – PhotoShop.
For the photos that do not look good in a 1-to-1 ratio, you will end up exporting these at 650px on the long edge, but without any watermark on them. See the settings below. I suggest that you export these into a dedicated folder. Once they are exported, you will proceed to Step Two – PhotoShop.
Step Two – Photoshop
The whole point of this step is to place your photo on a 650px by 650px background, and to add your watermark to the bottom of the square. Doing it manually is a tedious process if you try to do it by hand, so I suggest that you execute a batch process and use an action to automate the process, which will make it simple to repeat over and over.
If you don’t know how to create Actions in PhotoShop, you will need to review that first. Once you understand the process then the following instructions will make sense to you.
Your action will need to do the following things in this order:
- Open your image from your import folder and load it to a layer. By default, it is loaded as a background. I duplicate the background to a new layer, and name it “car”, leaving the opacity at 100%.
- Then it needs to open Image>Canvas Size and set the height to 650px.
- Create a new layer, and label it “black”.
- Fill the “black” layer with the black color using the paint bucket tool.
- Use File>Open to open your watermark logo that you want to place at the bottom of the image. Place it on a new layer and name it “logo”.
- Move the “logo” layer below the car layer.
- Move the “black” layer below the “logo” layer.
- Close the watermark that you previously opened.
- Save the completed 650px by 650px image to a new folder somewhere on your hard drive (you will need to have already created this folder before creating the action).
- Close the file in Photoshop.
Once you have the action, you can open PhotoShop at anytime , and run the File>Automate>Batch Process command, and select the folder where you have stored the images that were not already at a 1-to-1 ratio.
Step Three – DropBox
Once you have exported all of your photos, you need to get them up to Instagram. There are programs that allow you to post from your PC to Instagram, but I found that I had problems getting the hashtags to work properly when I used them, and I had to start a new account to fix the hashtag issue. The fix was to simply continue to use my smartphone and use the Instagram app to upload the photos, but to do that I needed to have the photos where my phone could access them. The easiest way was to use DropBox to get the photos where my Instagram app could access them.
Go to DropBox.com and sign up for it. Download the app to your phone and login to it. Use the DropBox.com website to upload your photos to your online storage. I suggest that you use folders to organize your photos. In my case, I have a “Photos” folder, and inside it, I have an “Instagram Photos” folder. Inside that folder, I create folders as I need them, in order to separate the photos into smaller, easier to view, sections.
Once you have uploaded a set of photos into DropBox, you are ready for the next step, and that is to grab your smartphone and open the Instagram app.
Step Four – Instagram
At this point, you should already have the Instagram and DropBox apps on your smartphone, and you are ready to post one of your photos on Instagram.
Open the app, and click the blue button in the middle of the icons at the bottom of the screen. The take picture screen will load, and in the lower left-hand corner, you will see an icon that looks like a “landscape/mountain” icon (just to the left of the “take a photo” button). Click on it, and it should prompt you to “Pick a Source” for your photo, and the DropBox icon should be displayed as one of the selectable sources. Click it and you will see your DropBox folders and files listed in a file browser. Navigate to the photo that you uploaded that you want to post to Instagram and select it.
From there, you post it to Instagram just like you would any other photo that you just took.
Step Five – DropBox
This last step is not required, but highly suggested. In order not to lose track of what you have uploaded already, you should go back into DropBox and delete the photo(s) that you have already posted. This will make it easier in the long run to not post the same images multiple times.
That’s it, my whole process to preparing my images for Instagram. It’s not complicated, but following these instructions will make sure that you are posting images in the best quality that Instagram can support.