We’ve talked about the ideal dimensions for your Instagram posts and images, as well as the best days and times to post on Instagram, but what about your profile picture? Your Instagram profile photo is one of the first impressions you make on visitors, so obviously you want to make it a good (and lasting) one.
People draw conclusions about a person or brand from a photo in as little as 40 milliseconds. Instagram’s profile photo size is small, and coupled with the shockingly short amount of time you have to make an impression, getting your profile photo right is paramount. Here’s what you need to know to ensure a perfect profile photo.
Screenshot via @kyliejenner
Instagram Profile Photo Dimensions
The visible size of an Instagram profile photo is 110 x 110 pixels on mobile, and 180 x 180 pixels on the web. That means that’s the size of the photo as displayed on your profile. In the feed, it’s scaled down even smaller, to 40 x 40 pixels. Just to throw a wrench in the mix, your profile photo doesn’t actually display as a square image: it’s a circle. So, you’ll need to leave some empty space in the corners.
Screenshot via @gordongram
That doesn’t mean that your photo has to be this precise size when you upload it, though; you can upload photos much larger than 180 x 180 pixels. The key is to ensure that your profile photo is square, with an aspect ratio of 1:1, to ensure that it displays properly. In general, a high-quality image of about 320 x 320 pixels works well without risking any blurriness or distortion when the resized image is displayed to users either on mobile or on the web. The minimum size is 110 x 110 pixels, but regardless of what size profile photo you upload, it’s stored at 320 x 320 pixels, so it makes sense to upload a photo that’s at least that size. If you upload an Instagram profile photo that’s too large, though, Instagram may compress the image quality, resulting in a photo that’s pixelated and not as crisp and clear as you had in mind.
If your original photo isn’t a perfect square, you can simply crop it to eliminate the excess. Just be sure to keep the elements that you want to focus on in the visible area, leaving enough empty space in the four corners so important visual elements are aligned perfectly when the image is displayed as a circle.
Tips for an Amazing Instagram Profile Photo
Whether you’re using a photo of your own smiling face or something else as your profile photo, there are a few tricks and tips to follow for a great profile photo.
Photos vs. Logos
The first decision to make is whether you’ll use a photo or a logo – or some other branded image. The answer depends on the type of profile that you have. If you’re a solopreneur (meaning that essentially you are the brand), a photo of yourself makes sense for your profile image. The same is true for personal profiles as well. The more professional-looking your Instagram profile photo, the better. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to hire a professional photographer, but if your selfie game isn’t on point and you don’t have any friends with impressive photo-snapping or editing skills, it’s not a bad idea.
Screenshot via @cocacola
For brands that are widely recognized by the company logo, the profile photo is the perfect location to add your brand’s stamp to your business profile. If your logo isn’t square, you might consider creating a modified, square version of your logo for your profile photo. The good news is that logo will come in handy for other social media platforms, too, as images with a 1:1 aspect ratio work well for Twitter and Facebook, as well.
Alternatively, brands might opt to use a photo that features a product. Whatever option you choose, make sure it’s on-brand and in sync with your other social media profiles.
Avoid Using Selfies for Your Instagram Profile Photo
Sure, there are lots of fun and flattering filters on Snapchat you can use to take a flattering selfie, but you should actually avoid using selfies for your Instagram profile photo. Save the selfies for your Instagram feed instead. Why? First, it’s difficult to get a selfie that looks professional. Another thing to consider is that it’s difficult to get the most flattering angle when taking a selfie, and the self-facing cameras on many smartphones can actually distort your face.
While you want to be authentic, there are better ways to show off your personality while still appearing professional in your Instagram profile photo. If you don’t have a friend who can snap a few flattering pics, use the timer on your camera to take a few photos using your phone’s front-facing camera. Choose clothing in flattering colors that complement your skin tone – just be sure your clothes don’t clash with the background. (More on that below.)
Get the Background Right
If you’re not using a logo, there are other aesthetic considerations. One of the main considerations is the background: it should be flattering, yet provide enough contrast. Neutral backgrounds work well for most purposes. If there’s a prominent color in the background of your Instagram profile photo, make sure it’s a color that flatters your skin tone and aligns with your overall brand identity.
Another background consideration is clutter. If you’re using a photo of yourself or a product, a bunch of magazines stacked up in the background or a visibly messy room can detract from the power of your profile photo by competing with the main focus of the image.
Opt for Soft Lighting
Natural light tends to work well for most photography, particularly when the subject is a person. But you should also avoid direct sunlight, as you’re more likely to capture shadows. For this reason, the natural light right around sunrise or sunset (aka ‘golden hour’) tends to work well. If you need to take a photo in the bright midday sun, go indoors near a natural light source like a window to get a similar natural effect.
Screenshot via @kerrywashington
That is, unless you’re going for a dramatic effect, in which case direct, bright sunlight works to your advantage for creating dark silhouettes. Dim lighting conditions can also make for an especially dramatic, impressive Instagram profile photo, so the right lighting conditions really depends on the effect you’re going for.
Use Props Wisely
Let’s face it: the small Instagram profile photo size means you don’t have a lot of room to work with. If you’re using a photo of yourself, you want your head and shoulders to be prominent in the photo, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make creative use of props to showcase your brand or personality. If you’re a photographer, use a photo of yourself holding a camera. A writer? Hold a pen or pencil. Hair stylists and makeup artists can make creative use of scissors, makeup brushes, or eyeshadow palettes as props for an Instagram profile photo that’s perfectly on-brand.
Use Tools to Refine Your Instagram Profile Photo
While you don’t want to make yourself unrecognizable, there’s no harm in using Photoshop or another photo editing app to correct any imperfections and tweak your Instagram profile photo to perfection. There are plenty of photo retouching apps for those who aren’t graphic design-inclined, such as PicMonkey, Facetune, Perfect 365, and more. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using an un-retouched photo either – you’re beautiful just the way you are!
Chances are, you’re going for a certain vibe in your Instagram profile photo, but how can you be sure you’re coming across the way you want to be perceived? Use an app like Photofeeler to find out if you’re coming across as confident, likeable, influential, or trustworthy in your photos and choose an Instagram profile photo that conveys precisely what you want it to.
Stick with It to Ensure Brand Consistency
Once you’ve created the perfect Instagram profile photo, stick with it for a while. Some users change their profile images every few days, or even every day. But if brand recognition is your goal, using a consistent profile image will help your long-term followers (as well as new followers) easily recognize your posts when your profile image appears in their feeds. Visual appeal and recognition is key on social media, and changing your Instagram profile photo too often – and using a mix of profile photos with widely different aesthetics – can make it more difficult for your followers to find you.
Screenshot via @maccosmetics
You can even import a photo from Twitter or Facebook to use as a profile photo on Instagram. When you use this option, Instagram automatically uses the profile photo you’re using on the network you’re importing from.
Other Instagram Image Sizes
Now that you know the ideal Instagram profile photo size and how to take a great Instagram profile photo, what about other Instagram image sizes? With so many Instagram image types, orientations, and other factors that go into the ideal Instagram image sizes, there’s a lot to cover. We cover Instagram image sizes in more detail in this post, but here’s a quick overview.
Instagram Image Sizes for Thumbnails
Instagram thumbnail images should have a 1:1 aspect ratio and should be at least 1080 pixels wide, making the ideal Instagram image size for thumbnails 1080 x 1080 pixels. Thumbnails display at a resolution of 161 x 161 pixels, but they’re stored at a resolution of 1080 x 1080 pixels, so uploading thumbnail images at this size ensures they’ll display at the best possible quality.
Instagram Stories Image Sizes
A portrait Instagram Stories image in a 9:16 aspect ratio with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels is ideal. These recommendations also apply for Instagram Stories Ads images. Keep in mind that while this is the ideal Instagram Stories image size, they’ll display at various sizes depending on the device on which they’re viewed.
IGTV Cover Photo Sizes
The recommended resolution for IGTV cover photos is 420 x 654 pixels. Your IGTV cover photos should have an aspect ratio of 1:1.55. Your IGTV cover photo might be cropped to appear on different devices, so you’ll want to ensure that all the important information is located in the center of the cover photo so it’s not cropped out for some users.
Instagram Feed Image Sizes
Instagram feed images can have a portrait, landscape, or square orientation. The recommended Instagram feed image sizes and aspect ratios for Instagram feed images are:
- Square Photo Dimensions: 1080 x 1080 pixels (1:1 aspect ratio)
- Portrait Photo Dimensions: 1350 x 1080 pixels (4:5 aspect ratio)
- Landscape Photo Dimensions: 1080 x 566 pixels (aspect ratio between 1.91:1 and 16:9)
Instagram Carousel Image Dimensions
Instagram Carousel images should be 1080 pixels wide and between 566 and 1350 pixels tall, depending on whether it’s a portrait, landscape, or square image. Otherwise, the recommended image resolution and aspect ratios for Instagram Carousel images are the same as for Instagram feed images as noted above.
Instagram Ads Dimensions
While Instagram ads images can be square, portrait, or landscape, Instagram recommends square images with a resolution of 1080 x 1080 pixels and a 1:1 aspect ratio for Instagram ads. Instagram ads images must be at least 500 pixels wide.
An aspect ratio of 4:5 with a resolution of 1080 x 1350 pixels is recommended for video ads in the Instagram feed.
For Instagram Explore image ads, a 9:16 ratio is recommended with a recommended resolution of 1080 x 1080 pixels.
Images for Instagram Stories ads, as noted above, have the same recommendations as for organic Instagram Stories posts. (A 9:16 aspect ratio with a recommended resolution of at least 1080 x 1920 pixels.) The same recommendations apply to Instagram Stories video ads.
Instagram Video Dimensions
Instagram videos can display as square videos, portrait videos, or landscape videos; however, square videos are the most successful. Instagram videos have the same recommended resolutions and aspect ratios as Instagram feed images:
- Square Video Dimensions: 1080 x 1080 pixels (1:1 aspect ratio)
- Portrait Video Dimensions: 1350 x 1080 pixels (4:5 aspect ratio)
- Landscape Video Dimensions: 1080 x 566 pixels (16:9 aspect ratio)
Instagram IGTV Video Dimensions
An aspect ratio of 9:16 is recommended for IGTV videos, as these videos are only shown in portrait orientation. The resolution for IGTV videos should be at least 1080 x 1920 pixels. In the feed (where only the first 60 seconds will play before prompting users to click through to watch the full video on IGTV), your IGTV videos will display at a 4:5 aspect ratio and a 1080 x 1350 pixels resolution, meaning your videos will be cropped slightly when appearing in the Instagram feed.
If you’re trying to grow your Instagram account following, keeping these best practices in mind to create an amazing Instagram profile photo will help to make a killer first impression when new visitors land on your profile. We also suggest installing the Instagram follow button to help you get more followers. Likewise, using a high-quality photo that’s on-brand will help to solidify your brand identity on Instagram and beyond.
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