Yesterday, Instagram introduced the ability to post full-sized landscape photos. It’s a feature everybody who is too lazy to download even the most rudimentary photo editing app onto their phone has been clamoring for… I guess! With this utility baked directly into the app, people who post a lot of unsightly, non-cropped landscape photos (like this jerk!) can save valuable seconds posting to The Gram!
When I bought my first Android phone in 2012, the first thing I downloaded was Instagram. Coming from the terrible Windows Phone eco-system, I never had access to the best or trendiest apps. The closest thing in Windows Marketplace was a broken, off-brand app called Instacam. I’m getting away from the point, but the Windows Marketplace felt like the flea mart in Tulare where you’d find bootleg Power Rangers shirts featuring purple and orange rangers back in the day. While Angry Birds was becoming the best-selling video game of all-time on iOS and Android, Windows Phone users were stuck with Angry at the Birds. Flea market status! Every Windows Phone should come with a churro and a Chelada Bud Light.
But I digress.
As an avid photographer, I was excited to finally be on Instagram. Having made my way onto this most rabidly popular social network, I wanted to immerse myself in it’s culture, namely by embracing the square photo format. I was a purist, and for a long time I posted only square photos as Instagram intended. I even went so far as to change the dimension settings on my smartphone’s camera to be pre-cropped to square format so I could compose masterpieces tailor-made for Instagram.
Somewhere along the line, things changed for me. Slowly but surely, orientation-preserved photos started creeping onto my immaculate feed. As of writing this, I almost exclusively post landscape and (Lord forgive me) portrait photos on both flimvisalia and my personal Instagram page. Now that Instagram has added landscape mode, I should be thrilled, right?
The square-format-only gimmick defined Instagram. It defined it every bit as much as its filters and double-tap-to-like features did. Square-only was very distinguishing. What does a person’s feed look like when they get lazy and post portrait or landscape photos with the dreaded black bars around the sides? It looks like a complete eyesore. It’s only marginally better if that person has the sense to use an app to add white bars instead. Instagram’s developers are completely aware of this, since the thumbnail in a person’s feed remains square to preserve uniformity even if the photo was added in landscape mode.
I’ll go ahead and be a total contrarian: Now that Instagram has added the landscape-friendly feature, I’m going to start posting more legitimate square photos. One of my favorite cameras on the planet is my TLR, which shoots 6×6 cm photos. I’ve taken some of my favorite photos of all-time with it, and to honor Instagram’s roots, I’m going to start posting some of my better exposures from that camera soon.
While I’m sitting shiva for a design limitation enough people complained about to warrant a change… I’d also like to pat myself on the back for avoiding the temptation to use The Most Obvious Song Lyric in the World in defense of the square format.