I’ve recently rebooted my Instagram to reflect my new business after moving on from the wedding photography. However I’m not happy with the default Instagram white borders.
And I’ve been having an issue with Instagram’s choice to display all images in the grid as square thumbnails. In doing so, an image that is uploaded in rectangle ratio will be cropped when displayed in the grid.
Once you click on the thumbnail Instagram will display the full image in the original ratio. The cropped thumbnail though can sometimes ruin the composition, not showing the image to its full visual potential.
Why Have Borders?
So I’ve decided to upload in a square format but with borders to retain the original composition in the Instagram grid. That way you don’t have to click though to see the image in its full intended viewing format.
But why? Well if the cropped thumbnail is unflattering compared to the full image then you won’t get any eyes on the image. I want the first read to be the image at its best, which is the aspect ratio I originally edit in.
Let’s go through 3 different ways that I’ve done this:
Instagram White Borders In App Feature
You can actually use the in app feature on Instagram to create a border:
STEP 1: Upload an Image and click on the resize button
STEP 2: Press Next and select a filter (not normal) and then tap the filter again.
STEP 3: Use the slider to adjust the strength of your chosen filter on the image. Reduce it to 0 if you don’t want any filter. And then click the square frame button to add an Instagram white border.
STEP 4: Click next, add a caption and some tags, and now you can share to upload to Instagram.
My issue with this method is the image, while having a white border, will still be cropped in your Instagram grid to conform to a square format.
This is the best app for creating Instagram white borders in my experience.
And if I’m taking a picture from my phone, then instead of taking the photo back to Photoshop to manually create white borders, I’ll use this app.
STEP 1: Open the app and select Library
STEP 2: Select the Square button to access the Frame Color and Size editor.
STEP 3: Select the color of the frame
STEP 4: Use the slider to adjust the size of the border. Remember the number so that next time you can use the same size frame for conformity.
STEP 5: Tap the image to return to the main window and select Save at the top right.
STEP 6: You can either select Camera Roll to save the image or you can select Share to upload the image directly to Instagram or an app of your choice.
The small issue with Whitagram is you cannot transform the size of the image. You will need to resize the image before you import it to Whitagram.
Photoshop (Manual Method)
This is my method of choice but only if you edit your photos in Lightroom and Photoshop; because once you have a photoshop template, it’s just a case of dropping the final photo on top and exporting.
The added benefit is also you maintain conformity across your images.
There’s also the extra assurance you are not further compressing your image unbeknownst. Unlike Twitter, Instagram’s algorithm compresses images over 1080×1080.
This is done to optimize space. Twitter is not photo/image focused so can afford to have uncompressed images, unlike Instagram which has over 95 million images uploaded to it a day.
Using apps which resize your image to include Instagram white borders means they are changing the image quality as well. I prefer to reduce the image size and quality one time in Photoshop.
Creating the Template for Instagram White Borders
If you’re starting in Lightroom, export to Photoshop as .jpeg using the sRGB color space, as that is the color space displayed on mobile phones, monitors etc.
You can now start a new document.
STEP 1: Create a new document. The image size should be 1080×1080 pixels. Rename layer Instagram White Borders template (Don’t worry about DPI, that is for printing purposes only).
STEP 1 (ALTERNATE): If you want to have a different color border. Select the base layer and unlock it and use the Fill tool to change the color of the layer from white to black/or another color.
STEP 2: Go back to your image to post and merge all into one layer (use CTRL+SHIFT+E).
STEP 3: Copy layer.
STEP 4: Go to the template .PSD and paste the layer at the top of the layer stack (CTRL+V).
STEP 5: Transform the layer by pressing CTRL+T and resize the layer to your preference.
STEP 6: Use the Photoshop align tools to position the layer in the middle horizontally and vertically.
STEP 7: Export image.
You only need to create this .PSD once. The next time you have edited an image for Instagram, you simply need to open up the template and follow from Step 2 onwards, which takes all of a few seconds.
Creating white borders for Instagram takes back control of how your images are displayed to your audience.
Not cropping in means you can show the image how it was intended instead of having to click through to see the full composition.
Alternatively you could edit for a 1:1 aspect ratio at 1080px and fully maximise the grid real estate. However this compromise might not be the ideal composition for landscapes or portraits etc.
Check out my Instagram to see some examples of the use of framing for a more aesthetic look for my grid.