How to Make a Reel with Photos on Instagram [2024]

Updated on December 7, 2023

10 min to read

Content Writer

Published September 26, 2022

How to Make a Reel with Photos on Instagram [2024]
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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. 

Table of contents

What you’ll learn:

  • What are Instagram Reels?
  • How to make a Reel with photos for Instagram
  • How to make Instagram Reels with multiple photos
  • How to make Instagram Reels with photos using tools
  • Tips when promoting Instagram Reels with photos
  • How to make a Reel with photos: FAQs
  • Boost your Instagram Reels with Vista Social

What are Instagram Reels?

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.

Sample Reel in IG.
Image Source: Instagram app

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. 

How to make a Reel with photos for Instagram

Here’s how to create Instagram Reels using photos: 

1. Launch the Instagram app

Launch Instagram app.

Launch the Instagram app from your device.

2. Create a new Reel

Creating a new Reel.
Image Source: Instagram app

Tap the plus button in the top-right corner of the app’s interface. Swipe the bottom menu to go to “Reel.”

3. Open your device’s gallery

Go to your device’s gallery.
Image Source: Instagram app

Tap the gallery icon in the bottom-left corner of the interface to pull up your photo gallery.

4. Choose the photo you want to use

Choose the photo you want to use.
Image Source: Instagram app

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.

5. Build the rest of your Instagram Reel

Build the rest of your Instagram Reel.
Image Source: Instagram app

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. 

6. Finish sharing your Instagram Reel

Finish sharing your Instagram Reel.
Image Source: Instagram app

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. 

How to make Instagram Reels with multiple photos

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.

How to add multiple photos.
Image Source: Instagram app

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.

Check the order of the photos.
Image Source: Instagram app

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. 

How to make Instagram Reels with photos using tools

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. 

Reasons to Use Canva

Here’s why we recommend Canva:

  • Free. Canva’s free plan offers a myriad of professional-looking templates. Though the premium plan offers more templates, images, and other features, you don’t need them.
  • Desktop to Mobile. Since using high-resolution images is always encouraged, editing is also almost always done on desktops. With Canva, transferring high-res images from your desktop to your mobile device is hassle-free. You can design and edit on your PC, then download and post the final video on your mobile app. Easy-peasy.
  • Templates and Transition Options FTW. With so many templates, animations, and transitions to choose from, you can create reels in a jiffy. You can also replicate a design by simply swapping photos for your next reels.
  • Diverse Fonts. Match your branding with the myriad of fonts Canva offers.

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.

1. Create a new design

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.

Create a new design
Image Source:

2. Choose a reel template

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.

Choose a reel template
Image Source:

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. 

3. Upload your images to Canva

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.

Upload your images to Canva
Image Source:

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. 

Reposition, adjust and resize
Image Source:

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. 

Drag your photo to the new reel
Image Source:
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Repeat these steps to continue adding all the photos to your reel.  

Below are tips when creating your reel with Canva: 

  • Don’t hesitate to use templates. Templates cut the time it takes to create reels by half. They also help you create professional-looking reels with minimal effort. 
  • Explore animations. Unless you want to add photos for simplicity’s sake, consider applying animations to make your reel more dynamic. Canva animations, like “fade,” “breathe,” and “stomp,” spice up the presentation of your photos—perfect for creating thumb-stopping reels.
  • Take advantage of stylized fonts. A key advantage of creating reels with Canva is the versatile text tools. Mix and match different font combinations while making each line pop using effects like shadows, neon backlights, and colored backgrounds.
  • Use data visualizations. Apart from shapes, logos, and photos, Canva makes it easy to insert data visualizations into reels. Use charts, graphs, and tables to make data-driven information more digestible to Instagram users.  

4. Download your Canva design

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. 

Download your design
Image Source:

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.’

Adjust settings if necessary
Image Source:

5. Upload (or schedule) your reel

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's homepage

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.’

Vista Social's Publish Tool

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.

Add video in Vista Social's publish tool

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.

Select reel

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.

‘Schedule’ or ‘Add to queue’ option

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.

Schedule manually or choose from suggestions

After setting your posting time, click ‘Schedule’ and you’re done—your reel should now publish automatically.

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Tips when promoting Instagram Reels with photos

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:

Use other elements to convey your message

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.

Mind the optimal Instagram Reels length for specific goals

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. 

Repost your reels 

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. 

Use high-quality photos

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. 

Adopt a consistent theme

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.

Optimize your captions

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 reels

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. 

Track your analytics

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.

How to make a Reel with photos: FAQs

Can you do reels with photos? 

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. 

How do you make an Instagram reel with pictures and videos? 

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. 

How many photos can you add to a reel? 

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. 

Boost your Instagram Reels with Vista Social

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

Content Writer

Jimmy Rodela is a social media and content marketing consultant with over 9 years of experience, with work appearing on sites such as, Yahoo, SEMRush, and SearchEnginePeople. He specializes in social media, content marketing, SaaS, small business strategy, marketing automation, and content development.

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