Add white borders to your images and make them square,
so you can upload them to Instagram without cropping.

Accepted file types: PNG, JPG

Hint: You can upload multiple images at once!


Most modern cameras take images with an aspect ratio of 4:3. This ratio has been used since the era of 35 mm film cameras. We compose our images in 4:3, but social media platforms like Instagram do not allow photographers to upload images in this classic format. Instapadder padds images with landscape and portrait orientation.

Why and how Instagram is cropping our photos?

According to an interview with Business Insider Instagram Co-Founder Kevin Systrom said, that Instagram incorporated square format photos from day one.

"Square photos displayed really well in a feed format and frankly we just liked the aspect ratio better. It wasn't much more complex than that" Link to the interview

Since then Instagram grew to become one of the biggest Social Media Apps worldwide, so from a financial point of view, this was probably a good decision. To be fair, most people probably will not even care if their photos get cropped a little. Oftentimes hand one of my cameras to a non photographer friend, he or her places the subject in the middle, so cropping away the sides does not harm the image afterwards. The problem is, that since Instagram became so important and big, using it became mandatory for a lot of persons, including artists and photographers.

For our main feed Instagram gives us three optional aspect ratios

When talking about Instagram cropping our photos we have to differentiate between photos that are shot in landscape and portrait orientation and we have to make clear if we are viewing those photos embedded in the feed or separately. In total there are three options:

a) Square (1:1 Aspect Ratio)

If you are shooting medium format 6x6 film, you obviously will not have any problems. But most cameras take images in a 4:3 aspect ratio and here it becomes problematic.

b) Horizontal (up to 1.91 : 1 Aspect Ratio)

Most of the photos taken are in the standard 4:3 landscape format. Since some years Instagram allows the upload of images with 4:3 format. The only problem is, that those images will be shown cropped in the feed.

c) Vertical (up to 4:5 Aspect Ratio)

Some photos are taken in a 3:4 portrait format. Those are most problematic. A common 3:4 portrait photo obviously will not fit inside a 4:5 rectangle, so you will have to crop some portion of your photo away on top and/or bottom. Either in your post processing software or inside the Instagram App.

Why you should not crop your photos

When building Instapadder we mostly had photographers and artists as potential users in mind. A lot of photographers tend to crop their photos after shooting, but you normally would not crop a standard 4:3 landscape or 3:4 portrait shot to square without weighty reasons. In Fact, there are several reasons why you would not want to let Instagram crop your photos to square format for you.

a) Tidy Instagram Feed

Instagram is a visual medium and your feed is like your business card. A tidy feed can make you stand out from the crowd and looks professional. Most people arriving at your page will quickly scroll through your feed and decide whether to stay on your site or leave. Thats why a tidy looking feed is key to success in Instagram.

For example take a look at the feed of @gabriel.melhado:

Screenshot: Feed @gabriel.melhado

I really like how he padded his photos and arranged them in a way, so that landscape oriented photos follow after photos that are oriented in portrait. In addition to that, all photos somehow fit together and are black and white. They thematically and aesthetically fit together, which makes it a pleasure to scroll through Gabriels feed.

b) A lot of good photographers are already doing it

Of course it is not just about following the mass, but when a lot of professional photographers incorporate some praxis in their work flow, then maybe you should think about copying it.

For example the renown SPI award (@streetphotographyinternational) only takes photos that are not cropped to square format:

Screenshot: Feed @streetphotographyinternational

c) Importance of white space

Illustration 1: View on the Alex, Berlin (Vladislav Shenker, 2018)

White space is not only important in photography. White space or negative space is an important concept when it comes to aesthetics altogether. According to designers there are several advantages of using white space when presenting any kind of information (and in our case it is about presenting our work). The usage of white space increases legibility, makes your feed look tidy and separates your images from each other. White space is probably the best frame for your shot. All these advantages are also effective in the real world. If you have ever been to a photography exhibition or museum, you will have noticed that the pictures are always hung far apart. The scenario in a gallery can be compared to your Instagram Feed. The viewer needs the distance between the pictures in order to perceive them as separate creations. Just try to think of an exhibition, where all the pictures are cramped together and hang side by side without any white space around them.

d) It's a whole different image

Illustration 2: Igor Stravinsky, New York (Arnold Newman, 1946)

If you crop your photo, it'll turn into a whole different one. To illustrate this simple fact, let's look at this famous portrait that Arnold Newman took of Igor Stravinsky in 1946. It is often used in composition handbooks. Newman decided to trim the picture to the inner rectangle, creating one of the most influential portraits of modern times. Just think what would happen if he posted his photo on Instagram and the feed would only show a 1:1 detail. Stravinsky wouldn't even be in the frame.

e) Show that you care for your images

I mostly shoot film and as a film photographer I do care for every single shot I take. Developing and printing film is a tedious but rewarding process. Probably that is why I care for my photos and the way they are presented on the web. When I visit someone else's feed and see, that she did not let Instagram crop her photos, I intuitively feel that this person is carrying for her photos as much as I do. As much as real photographers do.

Safe your art, use Instapadder

Although there are often good reasons for cropping photos, it doesn't always make sense. I hope that with this little article I was able to convince you not to let Instagram crop your photos any longer. Of course you can also use one of the many Apps to "pad" your pictures instead of Instapadder. For example No crop and square for Android or Whitagram and NoCrop for iOS. But remember that you can also use Instapadder on your Smartphone.

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Vladislav Shenker
Scherenbergstrasse 13
97082 Wuerzburg

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Photo by Pavel Brodsky