Anyone can learn how to make a reel with photos, but our six-step guide below shows you how to do it in record time.
You don’t need to buy or use third-party apps to make reels on Instagram using only photos. However, leveraging certain tools will take your Instagram Reels marketing several levels higher.
Stick around until the end of this IG Reels tutorial for proven tips for promoting photo-only reels.
Let’s get this show on the road.
Instagram Reels let you promote entertaining and educational video content to other users.
Customize reels with effects, filters, stickers, layouts, and audio clips to create unique content experiences. If you don’t want to record reels from scratch, use the “Duet” feature, upload clips from your device, or use editable templates to quickly create engaging videos.
Unlike Instagram Stories and feed posts, your reels can be found by users even if they don’t follow your (or your client’s) account.
Reels can be discovered from the native Instagram app’s “Reels” page, including reels from accounts you don’t follow. This is a huge benefit for new brands looking to widen their Instagram reach.
Another key difference between Instagram Reels vs Story is length.
While Instagram Stories are capped at 15 seconds per clip, reels can be up to 90 seconds long. This makes reels preferable if you want to share detailed videos, like tutorials, product reviews, and interviews.
Here’s how to create Instagram Reels using photos:
Launch the Instagram app from your device.
Tap the plus button in the top-right corner of the app’s interface. Swipe the bottom menu to go to “Reel.”
Tap the gallery icon in the bottom-left corner of the interface to pull up your photo gallery.
While in gallery view, tap on the photo you want to use for your reel. Tap the ‘Add’ button in the upper-right corner of the preview to proceed.
Instagram will automatically apply the image as your reel’s background.
Back on the reel editing screen, use the toolbar on the left to use Instagram’s array of reel editing tools. If you want to add text, stickers, and drawings, tap ‘Next’ to reveal these options.
On the “New reel” page, you can write a caption for your reel, insert hashtags, tag other users, and add location information.
If you used an original audio clip (e.g. voiceovers, recorded original music), tap ‘Rename audio’ to give it a recognizable name. You can also use the “Also share to Feed” toggle if you want the reel to be visible on your client’s profile page.
Take note that a photo reel allots five seconds per image.
That means you have exactly five seconds to convey your message if you create a reel with just one photo.
To extend the length of your reel, simply add more photos from your camera roll.
The steps in how to make a Reel with multiple photos are straightforward.
Go back to the new reel editor and tap the gallery icon.
To add multiple photos, tap ‘Select’ above your gallery grid. This refers to the two overlapping squares icon.
Tap the circles on the images you want to add to your reel. It’s the same process if you want to post more than one photo on Instagram as a feed post or Story.
Tip: The timeline bar at the bottom should show the order of your reel photos. The numbers also indicate the order in which they appear, but you can change this later.
How many pictures can you post on Instagram Reels?
Instagram allows up to 50 multiple pictures in each reel.
That should be more than enough to create an elaborate reel that accomplishes your content goals. With Instagram multiple photos in a reel, you can create a comprehensive slideshow-type reel, showcase results with a voiceover, share event highlights with background music, and so on.
Note: You may also include video clips in your photo reel. Instagram will automatically trim video clips and adjust the display time of each picture to fit the 90-second limit.
Another way to make an Instagram photo reel is to weave the images together into a video file.
Use free tools like Canva to do this.
Here’s why we recommend Canva:
Canva for many. Stitching photos into a video with Canva allows you to seamlessly repurpose your reel on other platforms. It also lets you use social media management tools to schedule your reel at optimal times.
On the Canva dashboard, click ‘Create a design’ in the upper-right corner of the screen.
Search for “Instagram Reel” and choose any of the results.
Canva’s Instagram reel templates use the same dimensions, allowing you to create precise content that matches the app’s aspect ratio.
Different templates, however, give various, pre-made layout suggestions. These are fully customizable, including the headers, effects, and the background assets.
If needed, use the search bar to look for different reel layouts that perfectly suit your photos.
You can also use a blank template and build your reel using just pictures. In which case, skip ahead to creating your reel without clicking on any of the template suggestions.
On the Canva editor, drag the images you want to use into the empty page.
Canva will automatically assign it as the first, five-second clip of your reel. Take note that you can manually adjust the display time of individual pages using the timeline below.
Reposition and adjust the image’s size to your liking. Canva’s flexibility also lets you add multiple photos to the same page of your reel.
To add a photo as a new page, click the ‘Add page’ button indicated by the plus sign.
Drag your photo to the new, blank page to add it to your reel.
Repeat these steps to continue adding all the photos to your reel.
Below are tips when creating your reel with Canva:
Once you’re happy with your reel, click ‘Share’ in the upper-right corner of the Canva editor.
Select ‘Download’ to save the reel on your device. If you already linked your client’s Instagram account to Canva, you may also share the video directly—but only as either a Story or feed video post.
In the download settings window, leave the “File type” drop-down menu to ‘MP4 Video.’ This file type preserves the resolution and clarity of your Instagram reel.
Under the “Select pages” drop-down menu, specify the pages you want to include in the reel. In most cases, you can leave it to ‘All pages.’
Upload your reel to Instagram using the mobile app.
If you’re on a desktop device, send the downloaded file to your smartphone or tablet (Instagram for desktop browsers only allows uploads as feed posts).
Alternatively, you can use Vista Social to schedule your reel.
Vista Social is one of the few social media management platforms that feature direct publishing to Instagram Reels.
Select ‘Publish’ from the main menu and click ‘Publish a single post.’
In the “Publish” window, select the video icon and click ‘Add video’ below. See to it that your client’s Instagram profile is selected under “Social Profiles” on the left.
Click ‘Upload from computer’ on the pop-up menu and search for the reel you downloaded from Canva.
A preview of your reel should appear to the right, confirming if you chose the right file.
Add the finishing touches to your reel, like the caption, hashtags, and mentions. Just be sure to select ‘Reel’ from the “Publish as” drop-down menu, which is found under the preview.
If you don’t want the reel to appear on your client’s Instagram profile, disable the “Show Reel in Feed” toggle. Otherwise, leave this setting as is and proceed with the next step.
At the bottom of the “Publish” page, select ‘Schedule’ or ‘Add to queue’ (if you already have an automated Instagram posting schedule. Click ‘Next’ to proceed.
If you chose ‘Schedule,’ you have to manually set the publishing time for your reel.
Use the interactive calendar and drop-down menus to set your schedule. Or, click ‘Show optimal times’ and choose from Vista Social’s publishing time suggestions, which are based on your campaign’s past user engagement data.
After setting your posting time, click ‘Schedule’ and you’re done—your reel should now publish automatically.
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Now that you know how to add photos to Reels (or create new Reels from scratch with photos), here are tips to make the most out of them:
Using photo-only reels means missing out on the capabilities of video content to ramp up user engagement.
And since Instagram users expect to see video when watching reels, using only still photos leaves huge gaps in their experience.
Bridge these gaps by using helpful captions, text overlays, informative voiceovers, interactive stickers, and add music from your music library.
The more creative your client’s Instagram reels with photos are, the more audiences they can draw in and engage.
Think outside the box and mix and match other elements and add transitions to level up your client’s Instagram photo reel.
Use the right Instagram Reels length to maximize the marketing benefits of your video content.
For example, reels that are 30-90 seconds long are generally better for generating conversions. Reels that are only 3-15 seconds long, however, perform better in amassing views.
You can learn how to repost a Reel on Instagram to get the most mileage out of content.
Reposting can be done by downloading the reel you want to share and re-uploading it on Instagram. This gives your content another shot at capturing the target audience’s interest.
Instagram reposting also allows you to experiment with different hashtags, posting times, and caption copywriting strategies.
If your content production team is lagging behind, you can also repost relevant content from other creators. This is a surefire way to provide fresh and valuable content to the target audience—without creating the content yourself.
Using high-quality photos for your client’s Instagram Reels should be a no-brainer since poor quality images can ruin the audience’s experience and your promotion efforts.
Leverage top-quality images that are clear, vibrant, and visually appealing to help drive engagement and draw more eyeballs to your client’s Reels.
Consider using a theme when you post reels with photos. The theme should best reflect your client’s brand, campaign, and messaging.
It’s a great way to help raise brand awareness for your clients, making them more recognizable to Instagram target audiences.
Create attention-grabbing yet short, sweet, and to the point Instagram reel captions for your clients and don’t forget to add hashtags to make the reels on Instagram with photos more searchable and visible.
Tag or mention relevant accounts when sharing reels that feature or include them to help boost your client’s reach.
Share your client’s reels with photos across Stories, feeds, and other social media platforms to expand their reach.
You can also collaborate with other Instagram and social media accounts to cross-promote your client’s reels.
Keep an eye on each client’s Reels analytics to track reach, engagement, and audience demographics.
Leverage the data and insights to optimize your client’s promotion strategy for future photo reels on Instagram.
Yes, you can absolutely create reels with just photos. When creating a reel, tap the gallery icon and select your favorite photos to add them to your reel.
Create a reel and tap the gallery icon. Select the photos and videos you want to include in your reel—you can change their arrangement later.
Reels can have a maximum of 50 photos (including videos). Exceeding a certain number of photos automatically adjusts the display time of each to fit the 90-second reels limit.
So, can you make a Reel with photos?
The question is, how will it benefit your Instagram marketing campaigns?
Vista Social will enable you to reap the full benefits of Instagram Reels. It lets you schedule reels at optimal posting times, track user engagement, get hashtag suggestions, and more.
Create a free Vista Social account today to power up your Instagram marketing.
About the Author
Jimmy Rodela is a social media and content marketing consultant with over 9 years of experience, with work appearing on sites such as Business.com, Yahoo, SEMRush, and SearchEnginePeople. He specializes in social media, content marketing, SaaS, small business strategy, marketing automation, and content development.
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