January 8, 2018

One question that I get asked a lot is how I make my Instagram stories. So I figured talking through my process in a detailed blog post should help some of you who’ve asked in the past. For those of you who don’t already follow me on Instagram, I tend to create short professional films as a way to express my creative side. I’ve heard some folks say but why spend all that time creating something that will disappear after 24 hours? Well, it would seem that this is no longer the case as Instagram now archives stories and lets you keep them on your profile after the 24 hours has elapsed. I’ve also heard some folks say stories are meant to be filmed in realtime and natural, but I couldn’t disagree more. Nothing that allows for a medium of expression is meant to be a certain way unless you deem it so, even then you are allowing yourself to have a perception that will often stifle creativity and not let you stand out from the crowd. And the latter is just what you need to succeed in an ever growing industry such as blogging.

Going solely off the number of social media followers I have, I wouldn’t class myself as a big blogger. Sooner or later you’ll realise that the numbers is only a part of it and content ultimately remains king. Hence why I’ve been able to leverage my Instagram stories as a means to booking certain campaigns that might otherwise prove difficult. I was even paid by Instagram to create two unique stories for them to showcase on their community platform. Okay, enough of my waffling. Let’s get into how I go about it.

The Story

In many ways you have to be a creative at heart to tell a story. Before filming, I tend to have a rough idea at the very least what the underlying story is and how I intend to capture it. I play it in my head over and over again which always helps when it comes to planning.  Sometimes I already know the music that I intend to use for the story and use it to drive the storyline. A good example of this was when I booked a party collection campaign titled “The Art of The Party”. I knew how many looks I was going to showcase and the settings I hoped to utilise in order to drive home the party feel. That helped me pull the concept together. Without a story, all you have is just some footage. So try to spend sometime working on a story as it’ll set the tone for the whole process.

The Equipments

I shoot all my stories on my DSLR camera that is the Canon 5D MK III together with the Sigma f1.4 50mm lens. The footage is always captured in portrait style as that is the format that best works with mobile devices when uploading to Instagram stories. It is important to note that you can also get quality footage using your mobile phone depending on the brand and model. The latest iPhone and Samsung models tend to do a pretty decent job.

For stabilisation, I use the strap of my camera by wearing my camera on my neck and pulling it away from me until my arms are fully stretched out. I then swing from left to right to give the feeling of motion. When it comes to steady footage, I usually just place the camera on my tripod and record.


My go to editing application is Final Cut Pro. I use it to stitch the footages together to create the story. For those of you who don’t know how to use Final Cut Pro, there are tones of tutorials on Youtube that teaches you the basics. As the application isn’t free, you might want to take advantage of any free editing apps that already come with your computer such as iMovie and Windows Movie Maker. It is very important to scale the video to the format for Instagram stories which is 1080×1920. The footage you shot in portrait style should first be rotated a portrait style then scaled afterwords. If you shot your footage in landscape style, you can still scale it to fit Instagram stories format. This video does a good job of showing you how to go about it. I tend to colour grade (apply a filter) the footage as well in Final Cut Pro using the free luts that come with the mLut plugin extension which you can download here. Alternatively, you can do a search on Youtube to find out how to colour grade with other applications you might use for editing.


Finding copyright free music that you like can sometimes be an arduous task. Performing a search on places like Google and Youtube can help point you to some copyright free music which you have to listen to and get a feel for it before deciding if you like it. Sometimes I go for songs covered by other artists which don’t usually have a copyright attached to them. Once I’ve found a song I’m happy with, I usually download it and import it into Final Cut Pro so as to apply it to the footage to complete the story.

15 Seconds Splits

Instagram stories currently limits one upload to a maximum of 15 seconds. Which means if your story is longer that 15 seconds then you’ll need to split it accordingly. I use the app called CutStory to do this. It is a free app that will split your stories and save it to your phone ready for upload to Instagram. The free version puts a watermark of the app on your videos but this can be undone if you pay for the pro version at £1.99.

That’s it guys! I hope you’ve found this post useful. I’d encourage you to read a similar post written by Carrie Santana da Silva of @wishwishwish, who also creates amazing Instagram stories. She shares how she goes about it which might seem a lot practical for anyone creating stories using their phones.
***If you want to edit like me, you can! Get my Lightroom preset or grab a copy of my eBook here.***

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  • Kachi

    Thanks for the tip Onyi. I can always rely on you for the best blogger tips. *hugs*

  • Manuella Luniq Etchri

    I love your post.
    Thanks a lot.