Instagram’s obsession with TikTok has reached crisis levels. It’s so bad that it doesn’t understand its own product anymore. Case in point: a new plan to introduce 9:16 aspect ratio photos as an option (I pray it’s not the default) in your feed.
Instagram CEO Adam Moserri revealed the new photo format plan during a recent Ask Me Anything session (as seen by On the edge (opens in new tab)). Mosseri explained that currently, as you may be aware, you can have vertical videos in your feed (it often feels like we don’t have anything else) “but you can’t have tall photos on Instagram. So we thought maybe we should make sure that we treat both equally.”
I already hate all the vertical videos on my Instagram feed, not only because they push away pretty much every photo I really want to see, but also because, thanks to Instagram’s idiotic design, I can’t see the entire video unless I touch it. At this point, I’m inside an interface that is essentially interchangeable with TikTok. This is intentional, obviously.
While Instagram has vacillated over how TikToky will make its interface – essentially a measure of what its users won’t launch a Change.org petition to stop – it really hasn’t been shy about making tweaks that can keep users swiping fluidly through a endless video feed, while belittling the photos to the point where I sometimes wonder why I use Instagram.
There are still snippets of classic Instagram in my feed, a good half a dozen 4:3 aspect ratio photos that hark back to a simpler Insta time.
My use of Instagram, with a few exceptions, has mostly focused on the still image. I take a lot of bird pictures and often pre-edit them in Apple’s photo app, even cropping them to the near-perfect Instagram 4:3 box.
My camera shoots in 16:9, and there have been a few instances where I will upload a full-frame photo to the platform. It’s always a smaller image floating between two thick white edges.
a eureka moment
The answer is so obvious, I can’t believe Instagram and Mosseri lost.
We don’t want vertical photos. No self-respecting photographer is eager for oblong images better suited for full-length shots (perhaps fashion photographers would disagree). Most professionals are shooting wide-angle. Whether it’s birds, portraits or landscapes, all of these images look best in something approaching 16:9 rather than 9:16 aspect ratio.
If Instagram insists on adding vertical photos to the mix – as the plan clearly is – it should at least give us the ability to upload some in a 90-degree rotation, meaning you’d rotate your phone 90 degrees to see them. it in full-screen landscape view, or better yet, introduce the ability to run Instagram in landscape mode.
Imagine what a game changer it would be if, seeing a landscape, a 16:9 image on Instagram, floating in all that white space, you could rotate your phone 90 degrees and see the wide image the way it was meant to be viewed: on screen. full and, with one tap, free from most of the Instagram interface.
Instagram and Mosseri won’t listen to me, though. They will come up with new vertical photos and say this is a big leap for the popular social media platform. But we will know the truth. It’s just another desperate attempt to keep up with TikTok, a platform that knows what it is and understands its audience.
Where did Instagram go that thought like that?