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How to prepare your photos for Instagram using Affinity Photo

Any crop won’t do when it comes to Instagram, but the good news is that preparing your photos in Affinity Photo is easy, effective and ensures optimal image quality for this still popular social media platform.

Although we’ve seen a number of alternatives to Instagram over the past few years, the platform remains the biggest player out there for both professionals and individuals alike. While our mobile devices can, and in fact often do most of the heavy-lifting for us when it comes to preparing the stills we want to post, there are certain aspects of the process that should be taken into consideration to ensure best possible image quality.

Here are some simple steps you can take both before and after taking your photos to get your content looking its best!

What to consider first

Right off the bat, remember that Instagram prefers images that are in the 4:5 aspect ratio. This often surprises users as the platform imposes a crop against what is mostly shot on a mobile phone usually set to either 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratio. It can indeed leave people dissatisfied with the outcome, thinking “but this isn’t how I captured it!”.

Seeing and thinking in 4:5 ratio comes naturally to professionals, but it is often overlooked by others who naturally do not want to worry about what Instagram likes in terms of the images they want to post.

3 x 2 (left) vs 4 x 5 (right) aspect ratio comparison.

So what can we do to prepare our images even before processing them further in Affinity Photo? The answer—change your in-camera capture setting to 4 x 5 and you should be good to go! If on a mobile device, use an app that allows you to do the same. By setting your image aspect ratio to 4:5, you’ll be instantly presented with the image that Instagram considers the optimal crop.

The above doesn’t mean you cannot or shouldn’t crop further in post—you’ll simply ensure that your initial frame is set and the content is ready to be considered further.

If however you do prefer the 3:2 aspect ratio for your images and prefer to crop further, this is definitely possible. A simple tip to remember is to shoot wider than you normally would to ensure you have more wiggle room when cropping your images.

Important Instagram numbers

Yet another technical aspect of your images and Instagram is their resolution versus what the platform considers optimal. Instagram promotes images set as 1080 x 1350 pixels, and so ensuring you’ve set your photo to those parameters, sets it according to what the platform will aim to present pixel for pixel—meaning best possible viewing quality.

Affinity Photo resolution settings set up for Instagram.

Export correctly

When you’ve made all your adjustments in Affinity Photo, it’s time to export your images in readiness for posting them. A commonly encountered issue here is that users often export their photos at the suggested resolution, as proposed in the Affinity Photo’s Export dialog. Instead, it is important to always match the resolution of the Document—1080 x 1350 pixels—as by doing so, Instagram will not apply its compression and thus keep the original image quality, as intended.

Speed it up with Macros

The steps of changing the Document’s size and applying the crop at the correct 4:5 aspect ratio, although not laborious, can over time account for a long preparation time. As you’ll be repeating them with your subsequent images, why not simplify the process and save the procedure as a Macro?

If you want to take it even further, especially when preparing more than one image, use the Macro set and apply it via Affinity Photo Batch job. Check out our tutorial on Batch Processing here:

By following these steps, including any personal editing touches that contribute to your unique style, you can save time and effort while maintaining a consistent and high-quality Instagram feed.