How To Photograph Your Books for Instagram
In a world where your sunset photos have to be perfectly aligned and your food artfully arranged on quirky mismatched dishware—how do you up the Instagram ante with your book photos? Here are some tips to help you become a master of the perfect Bookstagram photo. No messy, disorganized bookshelves under this #shelfie tag.
image via @bookmarauder
Think outside the box – or book jacket
Don't be afraid to strip down your books. Take the book out of its jacket and see if it has a cover in a striking color or features a cool font. Open the book to take a picture of the splayed pages or take a picture of the spine. Some instagrammers like to feature books with complimentary-color covers together, or books with contrasting-color covers. You can group by author, genre, almost any common thread you can think of – and bonus points if it’s one other people haven’t thought of before.
image via @subwaybookreview
Have a signature style
Your shots should have some kind of recognizable quirk that your followers can quickly pick up as your signature style. Another way to stand out is to focus on a certain genre. Photographing fantasy books or YA exclusively gives your insta a distinct niche and point of view, and fans of those genres are more likely to follow you. Alternatively, you could always put your personality forward in your captions. You could try always giving a 5 word review, tell where you bought or read a book, or make comparisons to more well-known books to let your followers know the vibe of the novel.
image via @blueeyedbiblio
One of my favorite things about the best #bookstagrammers on my feed are the awesome props they use in their photos. You might not think of a coffee cup or a cute pen as a prop, but that’s what they are when you’re composing a photo. I love unique bookmarks like the one by MyBookmark, featured above, or the wooden #currentlyreading booksmarks by nook & burrow. Everyone can enjoy a new bookish find like bookstore-scented candles or a Divergent necklace and featuring those items in a book photo can provide a way more interesting way to showcase them. It can also be fun to use something that expresses another part of your personality as a prop – like your Captain America bobblehead, or a combination outfit/book photo to show off your fashion. Maybe place a book next to your iPod showing the album you’re listening to. Don’t feel like it has to be just about books.
Location and Lighting
Unless you have some a professional studio, I generally advise sticking to natural light. It’s, well, the most natural! Photographing books can be tricky because the covers can reflect the glare of a flash or an overhead light. You don’t need your book to look like it is specially lit, you just want consistency and at a bare minimum to be able to see everything and not to have a fuzzy photo. Selfie rules apply – if your bed isn’t made and it’s not intentionally part of the shot, don’t include it in the frame of the photo. You might want the photo to be a snapshot of your life, and your life may include clutter, but unless it’s artfully arranged it can make a photo too busy or just not aesthetically pleasing.
image via @strandbookstore
Here are some of our favorite bookstagrammers.
I love @blueeyedbiblio and through her account I’ve discovered her whole awesome book dragons pack. I’m regularly inspired by @bookmaurader, @tinybookreviews, @lastnightsreading, and @subwaybookreview. Some publishers and other companies I enjoy on Instagram are @ChronicleBooks, @QuirkBooks, @litographs, @harperperennial. My own Instagram is @shinyandrea, and is a mix of books, fashion and food.
You can also follow popular hashtags like #bookstagram, #currentlyreading, #books, #reading, you get the idea. Using those hashtags can help you gain followers. When it comes to publishers and authors, following your favorites on Instagram is a great way to make connections. Don't forget to tag them in posts about their books!
Andrea Kiliany Thatcher was a member of the first generation of bloggers to make a living off the medium. Her mother doesn’t believe this is a thing. She writes on the topics of fashion, lifestyle and books and combined these passions with her book The SFP LookBook: Atelier to Runway. She is a book marketer, cocktail enthusiast and punk rock fan.