Instagram has announced a new feature which allows users to send direct photo and video messages to friends.
Until now, photos could only be shared publicly and seen by anyone using the service.
However, the social media site said they wanted to create a feature which allowed users to share moments which may only be relevant to a small group of people.
The new Direct feature will allow users to send a photo or video to up to 15 people, and will also enable consumers to have a real-time text conversation.
Once a message is sent, users will be able to see who has seen their photo, who has liked it and also read comments.
Users will be able to receive direct messages from anyone - including people they do not follow, and these will appear in a "pending requests" folder, where users can choose whether or not to view the message.
Instagram users can access the newest features by downloading the latest version of the app from either the Apple Appstore.
Chief executive and founder of the messaging service Kevin Systrom announced the changes during a press conference in New York .
The photo-sharing company claims to have more than 150 million monthly users who have shared over 16 billion photos on the service.
The company, which was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012, is seeking to bolster its appeal among younger consumers who are increasingly using mobile messaging applications such as Snapchat and WhatsApp.