Everyone knows that quality images define your ability to achieve success on Instagram. So it’s hardly surprising that there are countless articles out there helping you understand lighting, framing, color composition, and other elements of photography.
But have you ever stopped to consider how Instagram picture size can affect your content quality?
These days, Instagram users are no longer limited to square 640-by-640 pixel images. With higher resolutions and a wider range of imagery options available—including for profile pictures—understanding Instagram picture size options can have a major influence on your account’s success.
Recognizing the increasing prevalence of high-resolution photography devices, Instagram upgraded its image resolution capacities to be able to display photos with a 1080 pixel width. This presents images in a much sharper, crisper format than was previously possible, but not all users are taking advantage of this opportunity.
This mostly occurs because Instagram still allows users to upload photos with image widths as small as 320 pixels—a remarkably lower resolution that can look fuzzy or blurry when displayed on larger screens. Image quality becomes even more problematic when users attempt to enlarge an even-lower resolution image to the minimum 320 pixel requirement.
For best results—especially when editing photos to add logos or other text—you should always submit photos that are at least 1080 pixels wide. Instagram allows users to upload photos with a width larger than 1080 pixels, and then compresses the photos to the maximum Instagram picture size (a move that typically doesn’t result in too much quality loss). By uploading higher-resolution images, your photos will always look crisp and professional.
Instagram has long been associated with square images, but users no longer need to keep themselves inside the box. Thanks to an update that many popular influencers have already embraced, you can now upload both portrait and landscape images when importing images to Instagram.
While the image will still appear as a square thumbnail when visitors browse your profile, the ability to upload landscape and portrait images opens up completely new opportunities for brand storytelling. Some images adhere better to the rule of thirds when presented in this format. In other situations, using a vertical or horizontal shot allows you to tell more of the story or create a more engaging image that will stand out in users’ feeds.
It’s worth noting that landscape and portrait photos do have aspect limitations—your aspect ratios need to stay between 1.91:1 and 4:5. Not every photo will need to go outside the square, either. But by shaking things up with horizontal and vertical photos, you can make your account that much more interesting as you share your story.
But What About Profile Pictures?
As important as the images you upload on an everyday basis might be, you also can’t ignore Instagram picture size when crafting your profile picture. While it’s true that this image is quite small, there are some important display features you should be aware of.
For web app users, Instagram profile pictures are displayed as a small square, with a width and height between 110 and 180 pixels. Even though you can only upload square images for your profile picture, when a user visits your profile on a mobile device, your profile appears as a circle.
Because of this, you need to carefully consider how your profile will appear in both formats. For brands that use a logo for their profile image, make sure that your image is aligned in such a way that your logo will appear in the center of the circle, without getting cut off around the edges. It may seem like a relatively minor step, but it shows your audience that you know how to use Instagram properly.
While you may not worry too much about Instagram picture size when you’re uploading a casual behind-the-scenes photo directly from your phone, a knowledge of how image quality works in the app will help you achieve a more professional look for all of your content.
By utilizing this knowledge to create a professional-looking profile picture and produce high-resolution images with photo editing tools, you’ll be able to make the right impression on your target audience.