Since its launch in October 2010, the photo-sharing app Instagram has allowed millions of people (30 million, to be exact) with a smartphone to become above-amateur photographers by transforming otherwise ordinary digital pictures into distinct square photos with a vintage look. The app has become wildly popular because photographers of all levels no longer need a pricey desktop photo-editing program like Photoshop or an original 1950s film camera to give their photos an artistic feel.
In this article, we’ll explore how the photo-sharing app works, how to print your Instagram photos, and the best print formats for your images.
What is Instagram?
For those unfamiliar with Instagram, it’s a photo-sharing network with social aspects that allows people to take photos and easily share them with others. Instead of allowing users to post status updates or share website links with their friends, Instagrammers share only photos. Those photos can be commented on or “liked” by other people (like on Facebook), hashtags can be applied to categorize the image (like on Twitter), and you can even include the location where the photo was taken (just as you would on Foursquare).
How to share your Instagram photo on social networks
To share a photo, you first take a picture using your phone’s camera (or upload an existing one from their gallery), which the app crops into a square. Then, you can choose one of 18 different filters to apply onto the image. The filters re-create the aesthetics of instant Polaroid pictures and plastic film cameras like the Diana and Holga, which often over-expose the film, giving pictures a sometimes-grainy lo-fi look. Borders and blurs can be also be added to give photos even more of a creative flair. Once that’s done, you can post the “developed” images to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, or your Tumblr blog.
So long as the image is your own, Instagram photos can be a great source of artwork if you’re a designer, photographer, stylist or other creative professional who loves to take behind-the-scenes shots. You can try using one of your images as a pocket-sized portfolio snapshot on a business card. Perhaps you’re planning a wedding and want to send out save-the-date postcards, and you remember a favorite photo you’d taken of you and your other half with a dreamy filter on Instagram. You can easily use the saved photo from your gallery and use it on your postcard and wedding website. If you’re a pet enthusiast (like many Instagram users) with no shortage of adorable close-ups of your dog, cat, rabbit, or snake, a collection of your printed Instagram photos is likely to inspire more “awwwws” page-after-page than a few thumb-scrolls through your Instagram gallery!
Things to keep in mind when printing Instagram photos
There are a few drawbacks to printing Instagram photos. The app saves filtered images in resolutions varying between 612 x 612 to 2048 x 2048 pixels, depending on the version of your iPhone or Android-based smartphone. In the event your phone saves your Instagram photos at the lowest resolution, the largest size those images can be printed in will be just over 6 x 6 inches. The photos in this post were taken using an Android phone, which saved the images at 720 x 720 pixels, a resolution which translates into a maximum original print size of 7.5 x 7.5 inches.
Though some sites claim they can print Instagram photos as posters, the quality of the posters might be compromised because the image will need to be blown up before printing. Also, because the image is saved as a square, you may need to do some cropping if you want your picture printed in standard photo sizes, such as 4 x 6- or 5 x 7-inch formats. In general, Instagram photos look best when printed on small formats, such as on business cards, 4 x 6 postcards, or 5 x 7 flyers. For images that can be saved in the highest resolution possible, the largest print size will be 21.3 x 21.3 inches, or just under 2 feet x 2 feet.
Overall, Instagram makes it easy to take a stylish photo of anything your heart desires and share it with friends – but if you’re looking to print your filtered photo onto a large art gallery-worthy canvas, you may want to shoot your subjects with a traditional camera instead!