Industry News

Photo Mode: TikTok Takes on IG with New Tool for Photographers

October 11, 2022

By Jacqueline Tobin

© TikTok

As Instagram pivots more and more towards video in an effort to compete with super successful short video app TikTok—TikTok appears to be clapping back by appealing to still photographers with its recently announced Photo Mode tool.

The new photo feature has been rolled out in the U.S. and other regions globally as part of a new editing tools update for the app that allows creators to adjust their video clips, or post a still image on its own or as part of a carousel format. “For when you’d prefer to express yourself in formats other than video, we released Photo Mode, a new carousel format available on mobile for photo content that’s ideal for sharing high quality images on TikTok,” the company said in a blog post last week. Users can also add a musical soundtrack to their photos if they so choose—as well as stickers, text or filters—and viewers can swipe through the images at their own pace or watch it as a slideshow. (Those posting video can edit clips, edit sounds, edit and position text, add overlays, adjust video speed, frame content and add sound effects.)

[Read: Photographer’s Viral TikTok: Why She Cancelled On Bride]

It’s no secret that Instagram has been pivoting more and more towards video in an effort to be more like TikTok, and as we reported last month, photographers have been more and more disgruntled over the move. Photographer Tati Bruening went as far as to create a petition to “Make Instagram Instagram Again,” criticizing the platform’s attempts to be like TikTok and asking to go back to an algorithm that favors photos. (Currently, the petition has 314,516 signatures, with the goal of reaching 500,000.)

The recent move by TIkTok seems to be working. “We’ve already seen incredible ingenuity from our community with Photo Mode,” says the company—with user slideshows that feature artwork, fashion diaries, photography, and more.”

[Read: How to Make Money as a Photographer: Six Figures and Counting]

In addition to Photo Mode, expanded character descriptions allow for up to 2,000 characters, for both video and Photo Mode content. “This allows for both SEO optimization as well as allowing creators to expand their captions to include more information about their content,” says the video platform.

Want to know how to use Photo Mode? Screen Rant just posted easy-to-follow directions on how to create a carousel post of photos, likening it to posting a video: “Open the app and tap ‘+‘ to start a new post,” writes Kristen Billingsley on the Screen Rant site. “Tap ‘Upload’ to the right of the red button to display all the photos and videos in the phone’s library. Select the desired pictures and tap the ‘Next’ button at the bottom right. Like TikTok videos, the post-editing page will appear. To ensure the carousel is in Photo Mode, the icon near the bottom should read ‘Switch to video mode.’ If it says, ‘Switch to Photo Mode,’ tap to activate. When the editing is complete, select the ‘Next’ button to head to the posting options. Describe the post, add links, and tag people. Finally, tap ‘Post’ when ready.”

Currently, Photo Mode is currently only available on Android and iOS TikTok apps but that is likely to change soon. Make sure you have the most recent version of TikTok to access Photo Mode.