From its beginning, Instagram has been all about the square. It's been a distinctive feature. Many have relished the creative challenge, enjoying having to look at things through a square frame when visualizing a shot.
But a square aspect ratio doesn't always work. Sometimes it might mean cropping people out of the photo. Or some visual stories just look better as a panorama. There have been workarounds, but they've involved padding the canvas to add borders on the sides or top and bottom. That's what 3rd party apps like this one do.
But Instagram has now relaxed its square obsession. You can now upload landscape (horizontal) or portrait (vertical) photos as well.
There's still an emphasis on the square. The Instagram grid still uses square thumbnails, the Instagram app still only shoots new photos as squares, and if you're importing photos into the Instagram app for posting the default you see is the square aspect ratio.
But you can now choose to preserve the landscape or portrait aspect ratio using a subtle button that's been added to the edit screen.
How to Post Non-Square Images to Instagram
Because Instagram strictly controls its API, you have to use the Instagram mobile app to upload--you can't use another program to do it from your computer (there are a couple of workaround exceptions, but they're jury-rigged solutions).
If you shoot a new photo from within the Instagram app, you can still only shoot square, at least at the moment. If you import a photo into the Instagram app that's not square, you'll first be shown the regular square crop. This one, for example, is in landscape orientation:
There's now a small icon in the bottom left of the image where you can toggle between square and not-square. Hitting it results in this:
And when you upload to Instagram, it looks like this when people view it in the app:
And like this when they view it through the website on a desktop:
In the thumbnail grid, it still uses a square thumbnail, like this:
You still can't go crazy with aspect ratios. Instagram still has limitations on what non-square aspect ratios you can use.
For landscape (horizontal) photos, you can use aspect ratios up to 1.91:1, which is this shape:
For portrait (vertical) photos you can use an aspect ratio up to 4:5, which looks like this:
And you can still use square, of course. But you can't use very narrow banners or panoramas.
So if you've found that the square aspect ratio just doesn't always work for you, it's now much easier to share them on Instagram.