Instagram is one of the most insanely popular photo apps for iPhone. Since its introduction over a year ago, it has amassed over 15 million users. An Android version has been released and a rumored Windows Phone version is “in the works” as well.
While maybe not the best social photo app in the store, it’s the most popular and it’s arguable that the number of people who use it as well as the community that has sprung up around Instagram are huge reasons for its continued popularity. It’s easy for people to connect with Instagram. I use Instagram, especially when I travel. You can find me on Instagram/@martyneardfw.
By opening up its API, Instagram has made it easy to be as creative as you want, whether it’s using one of the app’s 16 built-in one-click filters or using one of the many Instagram-ready photo apps. Here are ten tips to help you get more out of Instagram. >>>
1. SAVE YOUR ORIGINAL PHOTO
If you often use Instagram to shoot, be sure you are saving your original photo to your camera roll as well. Having the original lets you rework the image later in Instagram or other photo apps. It’s hidden away. In the iPhone’s Settings app, scroll down to Instagram’s settings, open, and be sure “Save original photo” is turned on. To save a high-res version of your Instagram-processed image to your camera roll, be sure that “Save filtered photo” is turned on as well. Instagram itself only saves a 612×612 pixel image to the web.
2. TAKE MULTIPLE SHOTS
Taking multiple shots or “safety shots” helps ensure that you capture the image that you see. Change up the angle or the in-camera composition slightly. Move the camera around by repositioning yourself if possible. Shoot the photo wide and crop it down. Sometimes the capture you see doesn’t translate well in-camera. Having multiple shots not only gives you more creative choices, but gives you more options in case of camera focus or exposure glitches. I use Camera or a third-party camera replacement to save multiple shots to my camera roll and then share the best photo for Instagram. It’s a few extra steps, but often produces a better photo.
3. GET MORE FILTER OPTIONS
Instagram has a much-beloved (or oft-maligned) set of 16 retro photo filters that you can apply to an image. These one-click filters can make shooting and sharing to Instagram a snap. for a much greater variety of filter options, a lot of third-party apps now share directly to Instagram. Apps like Camera+ by tap tap tap, MacPhun’s popular FX Photo Studio, Pixlr-o-matic, Mextures and many others give you many more effects options and then export your image directly to Instagram already cropped and centered — ready to go!
4. ZOOM IN INSTAGRAM
The iPhone Camera app has a built-in 5x digital zoom. Unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t. To use zoom in Instagram, first shoot your image using Apple’s Camera using zoom, then import your photo into Instagram. Shooting with your iPhone held sideways will help you get a better top-to-bottom crop.
5. ADD TEXT
A picture is worth a thousand words. If you want to add a few more (right on top of your image), two excellent apps for adding text and other flair are Typic Pro and Over. Both apps let you add text in a variety of fonts and colors. The both let you crop square in the app, and both export straight to Instagram. Typic and Typic Pro and saves full-res square format images to your camera roll. Over saves at a very usable 2048×2048 4 MP resolution.
6. POSTING NON-SQUARE PHOTOS TO INSTAGRAM
Sometimes a photo needs more image than square. Sharing an uncropped tall or wide image into Instagram adds unsightly black letterboxing to the extra space. I highly recommend the excellent free app Squaready to crop my images for Instagram. It easily preps tall or wide images for Instagram by adding white letterboxing that seamlessly blends with Instagram’s background.
7. PRINT YOUR OWN INSTAGRAMS
The latest versions of Instagram saves high-res versions of the processed images to your camera roll — around 1920×1920 pixels on an iPhone 5. That’s large enough to make 10″x10″ enlargements from your Instagrams. Grabbing one of your Instagrams from the web will get your a much smaller 612×612 pixel image, but that’s still enough resolution to get good quality enlargements up to 4″x4″. Check out our post on making iPhone photo prints for great info on making enlargements.
8. USE HASHTAGS
Use relevant hashtags on Instagram to help your images show up in searches, helping get your images seen by more users. Want to browse some of the 25,000 images of Dallas? #dallas. There are over 44,000 Instagrams of #superbowl. Party. I’m an airplane geek. Nice to know there are 127 Instagrams of #dc3. Got your Instagram account connected to your Twitter account? Your Instgram hashtags also show up in your Twitter feed as well.
9. CHECK YOUR STATS
If you’re an Instagrammer and also love analytics as much as I do, Statigram is a very cool free website to check out. Statigram provides metrics for your Instagram account, including your Top 5 most liked and followed photos, how often you use filters and which are your favorites, and your most engaged followers. Log into Statigram using your Instagram credentials. Stats are refreshed at each login.
10. SEND A POSTCARD
You can’t tape the web to the refrigerator. While email is immediate, many people still love to get real postcards via snailmail. Postagram Postcards is an Instagram-focused app that lets you create and send real postcards using your Instagram feed. The ship a glossy photo postcard both US and international. Your Instagram arrives as a pop-out 3″x3″ print. You can include an optional 140 character message. The app is free but each postcard costs $ 0.99. It’s worth a buck to send a personal memory.