Good news for portrait photographers: Instagram to support "ultra-tall" images

Instagram tall images
(Image credit: James Artaius)

Reels on Instagram are essentially re-branded versions of Tiktoks, and most of them can be super annoying and make our feeds that much longer to scroll through, especially when we're shown content from influencers we don't follow.

Instagram has been under some heavy fire lately, facing unexpected competition from the likes of BeReal. Lately, we've been feeling like Instagram is no longer for photographers, and while Instagram seems to have rolled back to a more original format, users still aren't happy with how the platform seems to be turning into TikTok, and pushing influencer posts into home feeds. 

• In recent news: Instagram banned a Cosplayer for looking TOO much like Benedict Cumberbatch! 

With what appears to be a newly-found focus on full-screen content, head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, revealed during one of his weekly "Ask Me Anything" live stories taking place every Friday via his own Instagram account , that the company will begin trialling what it calls "ultra-tall" 9:16 images on the platform, expected to roll out in a couple of weeks, as reported by The Verge.

The confirmation came after Mosseri was asked "Are you building any cool features for photos?" via an Instagram story questions widget. “You can have tall videos, but you cannot have tall photos on Instagram,” Mosseri said in a response to the question box, “so we thought maybe we should make sure that we treat both equally."

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Having the same aspect ratio for both videos and photos may not be the worst idea that Instagram has ever had, especially as the square 1:1 ratio can be the bane of existence for portrait-orientation shooting photographers who have to shrink or white-border their images to share the full photo, to avoid having to crop out any foreheads, feet, or watermarks in taller images. 

Users have been able to share 9:16 ratio images to Instagram before, but only via Stories. These images could be viewed essentially full-screen on smartphone devices but only for a limited time, as Stories expire unless the uploader saves them to a highlight tab. 

Having a full-screen ratio and viewing experience for images on Instagram could be a game changer for photographers, able to create fully immersive scrollable content, using tactics like creating a blended image carousel - often presented by many in a collaged scrapbook style - for seamless swiping through multiple image posts. 

Mosseri has shared an update reel to his Instagram page (above) explaining that the company will always remain loyal to photo sharing, being its "heritage" as he describes it, but also explains that times are changing and shifting towards video as priority content, and that Instagram will be changing things around to reflect this. 

So what does this mean for our carefully curated Instagram profile grids? How will taller 9:16 images fit in alongside the current square block formats? Are taller images going to be given a seperate profile tab similarly to reels? Will users who dabble in mosaic-posting have their formats ruined? 

This new experimental format could be a make or break situation for the platform, already on thin ice, but it's intriguing to consider the approach Instagram will take to trialling this new image ratio and the response it will receive from content creators. 

You may also be interested in the best cameras for Instagram, a super guide on how photographers organize their grids plus 10 tips for Instagram success with your photography.

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.