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HomeCamera TechAre 9:16 Photos Instagram's Future?

Are 9:16 Photos Instagram’s Future?

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Hot on the heels of the head of Instagram’s post about the future of the social media service are some takes about what this means for photographers.

Coming to you from photographer and YouTuber Jonny Keeley, he offers some thoughts on what Instagram head Adam Mosseri’s comments about testing (very) vertical 9:16 photos means. Mosseri notes that Instagram is really going to be leaning into videos and messaging in the future, and since videos are usually 16:9 when horizontal and 9:16 when vertical, this could mean Instagram becomes more TikTok-like and adopts the grid for reels instead of the standard square grid it has been using forever.

While that more vertically oriented grid might be great for vertical video shooters, it might not be so great for photographers, whose cameras natively shoot in a 2:3 ratio. It would be even worse for Micro Four Thirds shooters whose cameras typically shoot in a 3:4 ratio when shot vertically. It would mean some extreme cropping, which basically would be tossing out resolution, and limited composition should those photos work in a square grid, with the square cropping out tops and bottoms of photos and possibly interesting subject matter in those parts of images.

One option is to set your camera’s aspect ratio to 16:9 to force your brain into thinking that way, but it’s a lot to ask photographers to force themselves to conform to filmmakers’ way of thinking when the app was originally intended for photography. It almost feels like Instagram is turning its back on the photographers that built up the platform in its pursuit of TikTok-like engagement through video. It’s also not using the full sensor of your camera, which kind of defeats the purpose of paying for that camera and resolution in some ways.

Mosseri points out that the future is mobile-first, which both Keeley and I disagree with. While it’s nice in a down moment to look at Instagram on the phone, I much prefer my 27-inch monitor to do anything and everything whenever I can. Why limit myself to a tiny phone screen?

Instagram can’t currently display a full 2:3 vertical photo without some cropping, so 9:16 is a large jump. It looks like the Instagram feed is about to get pretty messy.

What do you think of this possible change coming to Instagram? Love it? Hate it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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