Please Help This Instagram Newbie!

On June 5, I tiptoed into the 21st century by opening an Instagram account and posting my first photo.  It was a picture of Trouble, napping on a dining room chair.  I'd post it here, except that's one of the many things I haven't figured out how to do.  Which is why I need your help.

First, some background.  I'd looked at Instagram before, but figured it wasn't for me because I had never taken phone photos.  Let me repeat that for you, because no one ever believes me. Before June 5, 2014, I had never taken a photo using anything other than a camera.  No phone photos.  I don't mean that I didn't regularly take phone photos.  I mean that I had NEVER taken a phone photo, despite having a smartphone for 3 years.

I'm not a phone person.  I don't like talking on the phone and I don't have a texting plan.  I use my phone for emergencies, to IM with Steve, and occasionally to check email or get directions when I'm out and about.  I don't carry my phone around with me 24/7 the way everyone else seems to do.  I do carry my point-and-shoot camera around.  I never leave home without it, and I almost always carry it up and down the stairs with me during the course of my day.  When I want to take a photo of something, my camera is right there.  My phone is not.  Because of this, I've never felt the need to take a photo with my phone.  And because I'd never needed to take a photo with my phone, I'd never understood the appeal of Instagram.

It has become increasingly obvious to me that I'm being passed over for certain opportunities because I am not active on Instagram.  For creative professionals, Instagram is huge and growing.  As someone with a toe in the professional world of crafting and scrapbooking, it doesn't make sense for me to ignore something that could be helping me professionally.  Beyond the crafting world, all sorts of businesses offer discounts and deals to people who use their hashtag to post a picture of their burger, their store, their logo, their whatever.

So I've been using Instagram for exactly three weeks.  What I should have done was find a friend who could walk me through it in person.  I've figured out the absolute basics, but the process has been more frustrating than fun.  So far, I don't love it.  I want to love it.  There's where you, my Instagram-using friends, come in.  Help!

Here's what I'd like to know:

1) Is Instagram the same on all phones (iPhone vs. Android, various phones within the Android umbrella, etc.)?  Does everyone have the same features?  I feel like I'm missing some really obvious things that a camera can do. 
2) For example, is there a way to crop my Instagram photos?  Or zoom?  Do I really need to physically walk forward or backward to properly fill the square?  I tried taking a photo of swim lessons from the edge of the pool.  Without a zoom, I couldn't get close enough for an acceptable photo.  Same with baseball practice. The opposite happened during Book Club when I tried to take a group shot.  The room was too small for me to back up enough to get all the kids in.  (I ended up posting this photo of the books they'd read.  Even that was cut off, but cutting off books is better than cutting off kids.
3) Can I edit photos after they've been posted?  As we were leaving The Squeeze Inn on Tuesday after baseball, I noticed a sign on the wall offering a free drink for posting a photo of a Squeeze Burger with their hashtag.  I'd JUST posted a photo of the Squeeze Burger I split with Trevor (that thing is huge!), but I haven't done any hashtagging yet.  I tried to find a way to edit the photo to add it, but couldn't find a way.
4) Can I upload to Instagram via anything other than my phone?  There doesn't seem to be a way to upload via computer.  I do see that I can view other people's photos on the computer, but that seems to be it.
5) How do I get my photos off Instagram and onto my computer?  I understand how to print them directly from the phone (Groovebook, for example), but what if I want to post the photos to my blog?

I know there are about 100 other questions that have come up for me in the past two weeks, but this is enough for now.  If I could get these figured out, it would HUGELY improve my Instagram experience.  Thank you!!


  1. I so wish I could help ... i am also new to Instagram (cuz it was just recently added to my phone type) ... and still haven't figured it all out :(

  2. 1. Yes

    2. IG automatically crops your pics. The problem I have is it can sometimes crop them too much which is why I sometimes use a photo grid app to upload my pictures...it leaves black "bars" on the side of my pic , kinda like wide screen movies leave bars on the top and bottom, but I get the whole picture. Look at my pics on my acct and you'll see a few like that. And no, there is no zoom.

    3. Nope, sorry, I wish! Once you post if you want to edit your picture, you have to delete and re-upload. However you can comment on your own pic w/ a hashtag or anything else you want to add... if it's text.

    4.Again, no. IG is strictly phone uploads

    5.I e-mail myself the pictures I want to print, then I save them to my computer and then I send then to my online photo printing acct. A lot of extra steps and one of the things that frustrates me about IG.

    One more thing... when someone comments on your picture and you want to reply back to them, you must "@" them or they will not know you responded unless they happen to look at your picture again. For example, when I commented on your Barnes and Noble "cookie" picture, you responded back, but because you didn't "@" me I didn't get notified of your response. I just happen to look at your picture again so I saw it. So next time you would simply need to add "@mrs_david_vasquez" and then type your response and then I will be notified. The good thing is, since you follow me, as soon as you start typing in my user name, it should just pop up and you can select it instead of typing the whole thing out.
    Hope this makes sense!

    I think I answered all your questions!
    Good Luck!

    1. Thank you! Very helpful. I'm disappointed and surprised that I can't zoom, crop, upload elsewhere, edit, etc. Why do people love it so much if it's so limited?!

    2. People love it so much because in this "Look at me!" instant gratification type of world we live in, they can quickly upload pictures to share w/ friends! I admit even I get caught up in it and I am no where near as bad as some people I know!

  3. Oh 1 more thing... IG pics don't always print well through professional printing sites; they cut a lot off! So I suggest you take pics w/ your phonecamera and not the IG camera, this way you can save the original picture in your phone. The original size will print better. If all else fails, they print fine on a home printer.

    1. Something else to figure out, since the 12 total phone photos I've taken so far have all been through Instagram!

  4. I'm not a huge Instagram user personally, other than to follow other people. I liked the filters when it came out, but would never TAKE the photo using the Instagram app. I would take the photo with my phone camera, then import it into Instagram, use the filter(s), save it to my camera roll, and usually delete it from my Instagram account. Since then, I've found several other apps that I like much better, that do all the things you mention - zoom, crop, add text - in addition to the cool filters and I can save them to my camera roll. I can post them to FB, Twitter, blog, print them - anything you want after that.

    About once a week, I plug my iPhone into my computer and when it comes up and asks if I want to "import files" or whatever that pop-up is, I chose to navigate through my phone, find my photos, and just copy them into my picture files onto my computer, same as I do from my camera cards. Or, you can email your photos to yourself and save the attachments to your computer as well.

    I hope at least some of that helped! :) I haven't messed with Instagram enough lately to be too knowledgeable, and I know they just did an update, so I'm sure it's different than I remember anyway. Good luck!! :)

    1. So I'm getting the sense that no one actually uses the Instagram camera. Seems like a lot of steps to do the workaround. I'll have to keep experimenting. Thanks for the info!

    2. The IG camera is good if you want to know exactly what the picture will look like when you upload to IG because it doesn't crop those pictures.
      But yeah bad for printing!

  5. Oh dang! You should have called me!! :) Okay, I'm going to attempt to give you everything I can think of while I eat my lunch!

    1. Yes! It's the same on EVERYTHING. And you can edit your photos as though you have photoshop on your phone in a separate app, then just load it here. I do a little of that and mostly just edit in the app on instagram (that's actually my favorite reason to use it is the filters it has!)

    2. Yes, you can crop your photos. And zoom. After you take your photo -- there is a step called "scale and zoom". You can only zoom in obviously :) These are not meant to necessarily be used like regular photos, they are square, so you have to adjust your eye to taking photos in a box! As I already said, I almost never take the photo IN instagram. I take it just straight out of the camera on the phone -- that gives me the ability to zoom and all that. I use instagram to crop to a square and add filters. You can use another app to edit the photos -- there are a bunch of them that I LOVE to use! I use an iPhone and my favorites are ABM (A Beautiful Mess), PicStitch (it makes photo collages), Pro HDR (takes AMAZING photos), PicTapGo (my favorite filters aside from Instagram), TimerCam (allows you to set the phone down and get in the photo -- exactly like a timer feature on your camera!). One other app I just love to play with my photos is called Waterlogue -- it turns your photos into a watercolor :)

    3. No you can't edit a photo after you post it. Forgot a hashtag? Not a big deal. Add it as a comment. Or you can post a separate photo with your hashtag! :)

    4. You can only upload through the mobile devices -- not a computer. It's meant to be a quick, social photo sharing medium, so loading photos from the laptop kinda defeats the purpose? I think that's why they don't allow it anyway! :) You can get around it by loading a photo from your computer to your phone, then uploading it if you really want to go that far! :)

    5. I don't know what kind of phone you have, but on my iPhone, my instagram photos automatically save to my photostream so when I download my photos, they are there! I can then share them anywhere I want.

    As far as the appeal, I love the medium. I actually check it everyday and upload to it several times a month. Some people are insanely clever and have excellent feeds. Do you want some to look at so that you can see the potential of using it? :)

    1. I'll look for the scale and zoom. I don't know how I could have missed it. I have an HTC Thunderbolt.

  6. Oh and as far as how to really use it for the purpose you are ultimately intending... a quick crash course in using the @ and #.....

    First the hashtag:
    For example on your first photo, you could have used these hashtags to connect Trouble to all the bunnies of instagram...
    #rabbitsofig #bunniesofig #rabbit #bunny #bunstagram #bunniesunite #instapets #instabunny #instarabbit

    You could also create your own unique hashtag for Trouble's photos so you could sort all your Trouble photos. Suggestion? #deRosierTrouble OR #TroubledeRosier OR #TroubleBunnydeRosier
    Key is something unique. You can test it before you use it by searching for it and seeing if anything comes up!

    The @ to send it to someone:
    Example for Starbucks (I know you don't drink it, but I'm familiar with their IG feed, so there ya go ;) LOL): I take a photo of my drink. When I post it to IG, an example of what I could post would be: "getting my afternoon @starbucks fix #addicted #yum" That will notify them that I sent them a comment. If I took a photo with you, I could put as the description "hanging with one of my favs @cindyderosier today!!" You would get a notification :)

    How to apply that to crafting? Example from me:
    I post on rare occasions using my business products. I do this:
    "Getting crafty today!! @stampinup"

    Hope this is helpful info? :)

  7. Actually, I don't use Instagram to take photos at all. For my project photos, I still use my camera and save it to a folder on my computer which I then sync with my phone. I only use I Instagram to upload my photos. Try to make sure your photo is a square otherwise, it will get cropped off. For the photos you do take with your phone, you can play around with filters to enhance them. Lots of free apps to download and try.
    P/s: I'm only on Instagram because of DT gigs.

  8. I belong to Instagram, but never really used it because it is so confusing. Your blog post has really enlightened me, too. THANKS!!!

  9. I also just started using it, right before we took a road trip last week. I have all the same confusion and frustration with it as you do! I decided the only thing I really like about it is all the actions you can apply to the photos. I'd be interested to know what other apps Tanya has found that do similar things.


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