Like many of you out there, I love the creativity which Instagram allows.  I’ll admit, it took me a while to get on board and figure out what I wanted to do exactly with this powerful social media platform.

I Heart Jennifer

Naturally, I choose video.  Sure, I sprinkle in a few photos here and there, but moving pictures coupled with sound or music is where it’s at for me. The stats don’t lie; Instagram is booming. A recent USA Today article from February 2015 might surprise you in reading Instagram has even surpassed Twitter in monthly users with right around 300 million.  The Instagram train has left the station, might as well jump on board.

Instagram video can be a challenge.  You are only afforded 15 seconds.  Fifteen Seconds! This can cause a creative conundrum at times during the micro-editing process.  I say it is a challenge, because I want my videos to stand out from the typical Instagram video you see.


My definition of a typical Instagram video: A video that is shot and uploaded directly from the app.  Nothing wrong with this tactic, but for me, my approach is two-fold.

  1. To produce an interesting and compelling video that has a definitive beginning and ending.  I’m shooting 15 second short films clips here and I want it to flow as best as it can within the time constraints.
  2. To have content that people/followers understand, enjoy looking at once or twice as the video plays and to establish an account other users want to follow. Simple as that.  Who doesn’t want followers these days?  Even my dad has an Instagram account and he makes the joke that he posted a picture and only two people liked it (my sister and me). He does have 11 followers though…

Here are some simple tips and style elements which I use to for my Instagram videos:

Shoot first, ask questions later.  What I mean by this is whether you are using your smartphone or a separate camera, you’ve need content in order to create a video, right?  Don’t worry about the end result, just hit record.  There are many times where I will just pack up my GoPro camera as I’m out running out the door with my kids. I do not own a DSLR camera the reason being is I have three small people usually with me, agility is my best friend.  That is why the small, yet super powerful GoPro HERO4 SILVER
and iPhone are the only two video cameras I maintain in my shooting arsenal.

This first video you see below is actually the latest one I have uploaded.  It was taken yesterday morning as I had to run out with the kids to the bank.  Downtown Athens, Georgia is such a vibrant city to live in with great architecture, cool people and an all out historic feel.  By no means did I set out to make a movie or even this very Instagram video.  However, as we were walking around in the slight rain/sleet the kids started having fun and it was time to get creative.  I probably shot about 8 minutes of total video for just a 15 second edit.  But shooting a good bit of video is what it requires.  The last thing you want when you sit down to edit is to have too little footage at your disposal.  Trust me, it has happened and there is no way to go back and recreate the shots.  So have fun, grab your GoPro and phone and hit record.

Once you have some footage, you’ll need to edit it.  This is where you can get as creative as you want with rolling shutters, video filters or slow motion effects.  For editing purposes, I typically keep it to three types of editing software.  iMovie for Mac, iMovie for iOS and a very cool iPhone app called Videohance.  Videohance really opens up some rad overlays that can make your clips unforgettable.  Once you’re done, your clip is easily shareable to your camera roll, which is where you’ll upload it to Instagram.  One advanced piece of advice would be to make sure your clip is ending at the 15 second mark or it might get cut off.  I like to have all of my videos end at 14.9, that way I know for sure that it will run true to the planned edit.

Here are a few examples of where I leveraged Videohance’s cool capabilities to help out with my filters and overlays.

If you’ve never “edited” a video, don’t let that intimidate you.  iMovie is super easy and very intuitive to use, especially the iPhone version of iMovie.  If you wanted to go that route, I would highly recommend this book, iPad and iPhone Video: Film, Edit, and Share the Apple Way by Jeff Carlson.  I read it in a matter of a few days and keep it close by for reference.

Another app that you will need for formatting purposes is Squaready for Video.  Instagram’s native dimensions are for a square picture.  The same dimensions are in place for video as well.  That’s great sometimes, such as the video above of my son crushing a golf ball.  However, at times, you’ll want to include the entire wide screen view.  That is where Squaready comes into play.  It is as simple as opening the completed video in the app, hitting save and let it process.  Once the video is processed, you will then be able to open Instagram directly from Squaready and voila, a perfectly sized wide screen video.

Surely, you will have more questions about leveraging Instagram’s video option.  If you have any questions on topics I did not cover here such as uploading your GoPro footage to Instagram or need any personalized help, feel free to shoot me an email: Also, you can follow me on Instagram and feel free to leave a comment.