When it comes to capturing attention on social media, you don't have much time to make an impression. In fact, most people will only spend a fraction of a second looking at your post, so you want to maximize that time spent in every way. One of the best ways to do this is to consider cropping vertical for Instagram.
A photo in portrait orientation gives your photo more 'real estate' on the screen and therefore longer time to engage with the viewer. This is because portrait photos on the Instagram feed are bigger. The maximum width of an Instagram post is 1080px. For a horizontal image (depending on the aspect ratio), the height is around 700px, while for a vertical photo of the same width, the height can be up to 1350px. In terms of the area of the photo, that's almost double the size!
This can easily be seen by looking at your feed. Depending on the phone, a landscape photo may take up less than 40% of the screen, while a portrait photo can take up more than 70%. It may seem slight, but this results in more screen time for your photo as your audience scrolls through the feed.
Because of this, I've personally gone through a bit of a shift when it comes to the way I crop photos for Instagram. Aesthetically I tend to prefer a horizontal crop, particularly if I am capturing wildlife in their environment, but now I look for ways to be cropping vertical for an Instagram post. Luckily when it comes to editing or cropping photos, there isn't only one right way to do it.
Most of us shoot in landscape and then recompose and crop during post-production. Try experimenting, and assess if there is a vertical crop for your photo that makes sense for the scene. This works especially well for wildlife portraits, which will bring your subject in closer to the viewer.
Instagram only allows for a 4x5 ratio when posting in vertical, so make sure you select this crop size in the first stages of editing. (This is a pre-existing ratio in Lightroom.) And remember, when exporting for Instagram, export at a maximum resolution of 1080 x 1350px, otherwise you risk Instagram compressing and degrading the quality.
That being said, it's not a hard and fast rule that you should only post in portrait on Instagram. Not all photos work best in portrait. I am only suggesting that during your editing, you give a portrait crop consideration if you will be posting it to Instagram for maximum exposure on screen to your audience.
Until next time,