Why does my photo look terrible on Instagram?

Image Source: Instagram

Image Source: Instagram

Have you ever taken a photo you’re happy with on your smart phone or camera, doctored it up to your liking, and posted it to Instagram – only to find that it looks nothing like it did on your screen? How does a good photo go bad??? Blame it on compression, the shortening or squeezing of something, decreasing its size.

Why does this happen? High quality images can be large, and with a reported 1 billion users sharing over 95 million photos and videos daily on Instagram, that’s a lot of space! Hence, images are compressed upon posting to make room for the storage of all that user data. Compressed image = easier to store; however, JPEG files are “lossy,” meaning that every time they are saved, they lose resolution.

Let’s say you run your JPEG image your through an app with fancy filters, and an app that lets you tune your face, and then you make a collage out of it before posting it to Insta… Each time you edit that totally decent image with a different app and save the result, you’re creating something with lower and lower resolution. By the time you post to your grid, it’s barely recognizable!

How can you avoid this? Here are our 3 tips for preserving image quality when posting to Instagram:

  1. Start with quality. The better the image, the less editing necessary. Click here for our cell phone photography tips.

  2. Always post full-resolution or “actual size” images. Let’s say you want to share another user’s image on your grid. Assuming you have permission to do so, it can be tempting to just take a screenshot, crop and post; however, this is a guaranteed way to be dissatisfied with image quality once it posts. The image that you’re capturing in a screenshot has already been compressed prior to you doing a thing to it; it can only go downhill from there! We always suggest that our clients request full-resolution images by email from Influencers and contributors to preserve highest image quality.

  3. Edit wisely. We suggest that you either edit solely in the Instagram app, or learn to use software like Adobe Photoshop and/or Lightroom. While the countless apps devoted to making your photo look professionally edited are tempting to use, our rule is this: if it’s easy, it’s probably compromising your image. That said, if you must edit in a convenience app, start with quality and stick to one.