If you’re an avid bibliophile, who also happens to be well-versed in social media, then you probably have heard of the subculture on Instagram called bookstagram. It’s a wonderful community of readers who share their love for books, but more specifically, share their love of taking photos for books. Here are a few tips on taking photos and navigating your way through being a #bookstagrammer.
I know everyone says this, but good lighting is essential in taking good photos. Natural light is always better. When taking indoor photos, it’s best to set up the photo near windows to maximize the effect of natural light. I personally have gauged which hours of the day when lighting is best to take indoor photos, and I highly suggest noting the times when natural light is at its finest in your household.
For outdoor photos, it’s actually best to take pictures when it’s cloudy or downcast because that makes the light softer, versus extremely sunny days where the contrast between shadows and highlights are too dynamic, therefore having extremely bright highlights and extremely dark shadows.
Props are a fun way to add a little extra something to a photo. They can be as simple as a bookmark, or you can get a little more creative and add a few more elements. My personal favorites are Funko Pops, but you can use absolutely anything for props. Posters, mugs, loose papers, pillows, even books! One of my favorite bookstagrammers, Christine Manzari of @xenatine uses books to make amazing backdrops for photos, and sometimes even uses soda cans!
If you’re feeling EXTRA creative, you can even make your own props. Paper stars definitely jazz up a photo, and origami can be a fairly simple way to add props to your photo, without having to spend a lot on fancier props.
If you have old, unused, and tattered up books, rip out pages to make cool vintage-inspired background. Alternatively, you can experiment with dyeing paper with coffee or tea.
Try out different book poses Don’t be afraid to get dynamic! Take a photo of your books with the pages flying, or put your book up in a tree and take a picture of it. You can even do something as simple as taking off the dust jacket, or zooming in on a chapter title to show off what you’re currently reading. Show off those pretty spines, or deckled edges. Take photos of book-related merchandise. Variety is always appreciated!
Filter and Edit
Let’s face it, even with the perfect lighting, we still won’t be 100% happy with a photo, and that’s when editing comes in. If you’re comfortable with using Photoshop, kudos to you! Keep on doing what you’re doing. But if, like me, you have no idea how to work that thing, fear not, for Instagram has editing features that can help with that. It helps to stick with one filter you use every time, to have some cohesiveness in your photos. You can even adjust how filtered your photos is by clicking it once more after you’ve selected it, and moving the circle along the slide until you reach your desired look.
Additionally, you can choose “Edit” on the lower right hand corner, next to filter, and adjust other photo features, such as brightness, and shadows. Play with those settings, until you’re satisfied with your photo.
Write down your photo ideas. It can be in a journal, notepad, or you could just type it up as a note on your phone. Sometimes ideas strike you when you’re unable to take photos, so it’s best to jot them down for later on when you have the time for a photo session.
Stock up on photos. Have a photography session when you have free time and feeling particularly creative. Pictures turn out better when you’re having fun taking them. Take photos from different angles, that way you can choose which photo you like best, or have extra photos to post later on.
Give credit where it’s due! If you were inspired by someone’s photo, or would like to recreate a photo by a favorite account, definitely mention that in your caption. They will definitely appreciate the gesture.
Join photo challenges. There are those times when you feel uninspired and may need a little help on what to take photos of. Fear not, for there are a lot of people who make photo challenges. @bookstagramphotochallenges is a great account to follow to look up photo challenges. You can take inspiration from the prompts; let them guide you, and unleash your creativity.
Make friends and have fun! The main purpose of bookstagram is to connect with people who share a love for reading. Don’t be afraid to comment on a photo you love. Let the person know how much you admire their photo, or your opinion on the book they posted about. You can even send users DMs (direct messages) if you intend for a much longer or more private conversation to avoid revealing spoilers in the comments section. And lastly, don’t take yourself too seriously. Bookstagramming isn’t meant to feel like a chore. Read and post what you love, and make use of those hashtags so that people with similar tastes can find your post.
Zyra Yuzon grew up in the beautiful shores of the Philippines. She has since traded the colorful tropics for the neon lights of New York. Her grandfather accidentally taught her how to read when she was three, and she hasn't stopped reading since. Her favorite genre is fantasy. She owns 8 different copies of the first Harry Potter book, likes to dress up as fictional characters, is an avid collector of Funko Pops (202 and counting!), and is a self-proclaimed Book Hoarder. She runs a bookstagram account called @bookhoarderproblems and is convinced that she can rebuild the Library of Alexandria out of her ever-growing TBR pile.