Where is BCHK?
Brian HK Chan

Where is BCHK?

A fashion and travel blog by Brian HK Chan

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photo by Brian HK Chan (BCHK)

A few weeks ago, Instagram thought outside the square and rolled out an update that allowed users to share photos and videos in portrait and landscape mode (in addition to the much-beloved/hated square). So which format is the best?

Since its launch in 2010, squares have been the representative identity of what Instagram is. At that time (5 years ago!), the main photo sharing platforms were Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. And you could share pictures in any shape format you wanted. Instagram's signature square format was chosen to stand out from the crowd, and according to its cofounder Kevin Systrom, "square photos displayed really well in a feed format". But social media has come a long way since then, and Instagram reported that "one in five Instagram photos aren't square"

So enough history. What's the best photo format to use then? 

The conservative / Instagram purist: Square

Don't do anything differently and just post in the 'traditional' format. Instagram's gonna center-crop your photo anyway to fit into the grid on your app and web profile. And aren't squares the best for flat-lays? cc: Zhang

I personally love taking square pics now, and will always associate Instagram with square photos. The downside? I can't get the whole Eiffel Tower in. (Not entirely true haha). 

photo by Brian HK Chan (BCHK)

life is short - try and enjoy every second of it 🙏

A photo posted by Brian HK Chan (BCHK) 📷 (@brianhkchan) on


As if this wasn't obvious. Many of us have used third-party apps like Whitagram, Squaready and Layout to center our party and group diner pics against a white/black background. Instagram's new support of landscape formats is an easy-fix to this 'problem'. (I know some people like the white border, but I personally think it doesn't fit well into my profile's grid view.) 

Just edit then post. No need to fuss around with third-party apps anymore. 

🙈can't wait to show you more of @jelinecatt from today! 🐬

A photo posted by Brian HK Chan (BCHK) 📷 (@brianhkchan) on

The downside of this though? People who stand/sit at the end of the photo will still get cropped out in grid view, which isn't really nice if you're the one standing on the side. Another aspect that I'm not a fan of is the white space below the photo in single-photo view (see below). Sure, if you've got lots of comments to fill up that space then it looks fine. But if you've just posted the photo then that extra white space is really aesthetically annoying. 

One last reminder: Instagram's app cannot be rotated to landscape view. This means that when you post a landscape photo, the greatest width it will display as is the width of your device. And when you can't rotate your device or zoom in on an Insta photo, the subjects of your photo become little elves. You won't be able to show off your #ootd or the smiles on your friends' faces as well. 

The feed-hog or attention-seeker: PORTRAIT!

Okay to be fair I really like posting in portrait format. Portrait photos take up most of the screen display when scrolling through your Insta feed so it's basically silently screaming "LOOK AT ME!". Apart from that, you can generally see more of the photo just like in landscape, but bigger since it stretches the height of the screen instead of the width. Unfortunately, Instagram will still center-crop your photo to fit the grid, but I do prefer it more than Landscape since it cuts off the top and bottom of the photo instead of the sides. 

So what's the best format? 

There is no optimal format. HAHA. Choose whatever you wish, just as you would share whatever you want to. I personally want to stick to squares because it'll give me a better control of how the each photo looks in my grid. But when I need to be a tourist and fit a Tower in? Well you know the answer. 



What do you think about the new photo formats? What's your favorite one? Let me know and comment your Instagram username below!


photo by Brian HK Chan (BCHK)