How to Use Lightroom to Prepare Images for Instagram

One of the best ways to post your DSLR images to Instagram is to add them to your Dropbox account. You can easily export images from Lightroom to your Dropbox folder so that they are available to your smartphone or tablet. You can crop the images square before exporting, or you can keep the original aspect ratio by using the print module method below.

If you want to learn how to use Lightroom to export .png files for Facebook  so that they aren’t compressed, go to this blog post.

Square Images – Export Method

1. Create a Dropbox account

If you don’t have one, use this link and you will get 500MB of bonus space.

2. Create an Instagram folder on your Dropbox

Dropbox will synchronize your online storage with your Dropbox folder on your computer.  Create an Instagram subfolder in your Dropbox folder to keep your images organized.  I call mine Webpix because that the name I use when I sell them to my clients.

3. Create a Watermark (optional)

There are plenty of tutorials on creating a watermark.  Here is a video from Adobe TV

4. Select and Crop your images

I like to keyword my images so that I can easily filter the ones I want to post on Instagram.  Once you have all of the images selected, use the crop tool to crop them to a 1:1 ratio.  You will then probably need to adjust the crops individually.  If you do not want to make your image square, use the Print Module method below.

5. Create Export Preset

Adjust the following export settings:

Lightroom Export Instagram

Export Location: Select your Instagram folder.  I like to create subfolders for each client with the name Clientname-Instagram so I can share it with them.

Rename to:  If you need to rename your files you can do so in this step.  My filenames are short and not necessarily unique so I like to rename my file with the folder name as a prefix, which is my clients name.  {Folder Name>>}_{Filename>>}.  That makes it easy for me to find when I’m posting and makes sure I don’t have duplicates.  This step might not be necessary for you.

File Settings: JPEG, RGB, 100% Quality (you could get by with less.  I don’t like to go below 92%)

Image Sizing:  Instagram pixel dimensions are 612×612.  I use a slightly larger file size so that I can use the same image for Facebook.  I have found that a 780 pixels image when saved as a .png file will almost always stay under the 1Mb limit (more about that in this blog post)

Output Sharpening: Optional

Metadata: Select desired settings.  I have Copyright Only.

Watermarking:  Select the appropriate watermark

Post Processing:  Do Nothing or Show in Explorer

Now create a preset so that you won’t have to adjust the settings again (click the “Add” button).

After you export the images, they should be in your Dropbox folder and automatically synchronize with your online storage.

If you have an Android phone, Dropbox shows up as one of the sources so there aren’t anymore steps.  If you have an iPhone or iPad, you will need to save the image from Dropbox to your camera roll.

Rectangular Images – Print Module Method

1. Follow steps 1-3 from above and then go to the print module to create a new layout with the following settings

export-instagram-1

Lightroom Export Instagram

2. Save Presets

Click the “+” next to the template browser to create the preset.  Name it “Vertical” in a new preset folder called “Instagram.”  Then swap the “Cell Size” height and width dimension and save that as a preset called “Horizontal.”

3.  Save in your Dropbox folder.

Select the image and the appropriate horizontal or vertical preset.  Adjust the cell size if needed.  Click “Print to File” and save to your Dropbox folder.

For more photography tips, click here or use the link in the menu.

9 Comments

  1. very nice… thank you!

  2. That’s most helpful, thanks for taking the trouble to set that out Tammy.

  3. Very helpful–thanks for putting it together. Can you explain why you chose the size and quality settings that you did? I thought that maximum display resolution for the web was 72 dpi? With 300 dpi reserved for print jobs. Doesn’t setting it at the higher level increase the size of the file dramatically? Also, is there a file size limit for Instagram? Thanks. Again, really useful for streamlining workflow. Ken

    • tammyhowell

      Hi Ken, Very good question! Because I specify the actual pixel dimensions, the ppi is irrelevant. There are lots of articles online that help clear up this confusion, but here is one: http://www.rideau-info.com/photos/mythdpi.html

      Instagram pixel dimensions are 612 x 612. I use a slightly larger image because I also sometimes use the same image for Facebook and so do my clients. I am going to update the article to clarify this point.

  4. Kate

    This is a very helpful article! I really want to create the rectangle template but have one question. What page setup (paper size) or default Lightroom template did you start with that allowed you to create this new print module template? When I go to the module, it automatically starts with the 1 (4×6) template, which makes my paper size 4×6″ (under File -> Page Setup). Lightroom will not allow me to change the dimensions or zero out the margins to the numbers you suggest without first changing the paper size and probably changing the print to be borderless?

    Thanks so much in advance for any assistance

    • Kate

      Ok.. I’m not sure what I did but I figured it out. I tried applying the settings in a different order (from bottom to top) and it seemed to work for a mysterious reason haha. It worked though so I’m happy! Thanks again!

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