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How To Post a Live Photo on Instagram

Posted by Jamie on January 7, 2020

Live Photos are a great addition to newer iPhones that combine video and GIF imagery to create something more interesting than a still image.

As soon as the option was released, the major social networks–Twitter, Facebook, etc, decided to start accepting them. The hold out amongst the social media networks was the photo-centric Instagram.

Considering Instagram’s delay in rolling out this feature, it took a while to figure out how to post a Live Photo on Instagram, but now it can be done. Well, it can be done with just a bit of tinkering, at least.

Before we get on to posting a Live Photo to Instagram, let us discuss taking Live Photos first, just in case you have yet to try it. Once you do, I doubt you will ever go back to still images ever again!

How To Share A Live Photo On Instagram

Ignoring the contradiction of terms, Live Photos is a very neat feature added to the iPhone 6. Rather than taking a snapshot, Live Photos takes a 1.5-second video and audio recording, making Live Photos more like a video than like still photos.

That short recording contains both video and audio, which together comprise a Live Photo. Despite what the name implies, Live Photos aren’t happening in real-time and they aren’t exactly photos, either. Instead, they’re more like miniature animations that only show one frame (a photo) but can play like an animation if you long press on them (an animation).

The name is more so meant to evoke a photo that’s alive, rather than something that’s happening live. It’s a Live Photo in the sense that it seems like a photo that comes to life, animating itself, kind of like the photos in Harry Potter.

Here Are The Steps To Take Live Photos:

  1. Open your iPhone camera app
  2. Tap the bullseye icon in the top center of the screen. It should turn yellow once enabled.

  3. Frame your shot as you normally would.
  4. Press the shutter once, keeping your phone steady on the subject for at least 1.5 seconds.

The camera will then take its 1.5-second Live Photo. You need to treat Live Photos as video shots and not move the camera if you can help it. Framing the shot in advance is another way to ensure you’re taking great Live Photos.

Remember that it records audio as well as images, so be aware of ambient noise and what’s going on around you.

Live Photos can be taken with both the front and rear cameras. As the main camera is 12 megapixels and the Live Photo is 1.5 seconds long, if you take too many then you will soon run out of space. A single Live Photo is comprised of a 3-4MB .mov file and a 2-5MB JPEG, so they will quickly use up the storage on your phone.

For this reason, it’s recommended that you only leave Live Photos enabled by default if you have lots of storage or use iCloud storage for your photos. Otherwise, it’s better to only enable Live Photos when you are specifically trying to take one.

You can view Live Photos as standard photos the same way that you view the rest of your photos. Just open the Photos app and you’ll find your Live Photos with the rest of your pictures. The only thing that will set it apart is that you’ll see that same bullseye symbol in the top left of the image (this symbol isn’t actually on your photo, it’s just a display element.

To view your Live Photo as an animation, just long-press it and the video/animation will instantly start playing. You can edit it as well with all of the same options you have for editing a regular photo, as well as some additional options. For example, if you swipe up on the photo, you’ll get options to play the photo as an animated Loop, Bounce (a.k.a. Boomerang), or Long Exposure.

There’s also an extra section in the Edit screen for Live Photos. To view these options, tap Edit on the top right of your photo and tap the bullseye at the bottom left of the Edit screen. Once there, you’ll see options to mute the audio of your Live Photo, change the Key Photo, and even disable its Live Photo features (it will still be a Live Photo file, but it won’t play or appear as a Live Photo in the Photos app).

Sharing A Live Photo On Instagram

Despite being all about images, Instagram has been very slow to adopt the use of Live Photos. Sure, it’s an Apple feature, but with millions of iPhone users across the world then it would make sense for Instagram to at least pretend to support them.

At the time of this writing, Instagram only supports videos of 3 seconds or more. As a Live Photo is only 1.5 seconds long, it won’t work.

You can post the Live Photo as normal on Instagram but it will only appear as a still image, and that sort of defeats the point of it being a Live Photo in the first place.

There is a workaround, though: converting the Live Photo into a Boomerang.

Can You Make A Live Photo Into A Boomerang?

Converting your Live Photo into a Boomerang will change your Live Photo to 1 second, which is the length of a Boomerang, reducing the time of your 1.5-second long Live Photo by half a second. The good news is that Live Photos often end up being awesome Boomerangs.

Boomerangs are Instagram’s version of short videos. It uses your camera’s burst photo mode to take a series of shots that will create a moving image, and you can also use it to convert a Live Photo to a Boomerang.

  1. Open Instagram and select the camera.
  2. Create a new story and swipe up to select your Live Photo.
  3. Upload a Live Photo and press and hold on the screen. This uses 3D Touch to create the Boomerang.
  4. Post the Boomerang to your story and compose the rest of your post as you wish.

It isn’t the most elegant solution, but it gets the job done until Instagram catches up with the present and begins playing nicely with Live Photos.

Convert Your Live Photos To GIFs

If that solution really doesn’t work for you, you could always convert your Live Photos to GIFs and upload them to Instagram. Ironically, one of the best apps to convert a Live Photos to cinematic GIFwas created by Google.

Called Motion Stills, this useful app turns Live Photos into cinematic GIFs and video collages using Google’s stabilization technology. You can share your Motion Stills as looping GIF movies.

If you use Motion Stills, you don’t have to use the GIF format either as the app directly supports Live Photos.

Other apps such as Lively or Alive will also work, but Motion Stills gets the job done and you don’t even need a Google account to make it work.

It is surprising that even months after Live Photos was introduced, Instagram still doesn’t play nicely with them, instead opting to get left in the dust.

At the time of writing, at least, you still need to work around this limitation to post them. Considering Instagram’s photo-centered nature, it’s a little bit ironic.

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Do you have any other ways of posting Live Photos to Instagram? Tell us about them below in the comments if you do!

4 thoughts on “How To Post a Live Photo on Instagram”

Msprivatekitty says:
Upload your live photos to Google photos under your personal google account. Be sure they are saved on google. Delete them on your iPhone, then google photos will let you save the live photos to your iPhone as a video file.
Reply
Catherine says:
Instagram and Facebook won’t allow the live feature for Motion Stills — they only show a flat photo with the Motion Stills logo.
Reply
Mai says:
It does work for me and I don’t have 3D Touch. I have iPhone 6 (not iPhone 6s).
Reply
Dave says:
This doesn’t work. There is no 3D Touch response on the live photo once selected in Instagram.
Reply
Carly says:
did anyone ever figure this out? I have uninstalled and reinstalled the app twice. I dont know what else to do. it will not work for me and ive tested my 3d touch in other apps and it works fine.
Reply

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