This post is a part of a blog mini series on the topic of bookstagram.
Previously. . .
You’ve now selected the book (or books) that you want to photograph. Next up, you need to put something in the background of your photo!
Choosing a Background
Once I have a book in mind to feature, I have to think about the rest of the picture. When choosing a background you either want to think about your theme (if you have one) or the book.
If you don’t have a theme that uses a specific backdrop in each photo, think about your book. What colors would contrast with it? Is the cover art light? Try placing it against a darker background (or vice versa). Look at the colors in the cover. What backgrounds make them stand out? It’s not an exact science and may take a few test photos before you find something you like.
Many accounts adhere to a photo theme. Many don’t. It’s a personal preference what you decide to do. Personally, I’ve worked without a theme, I’ve done a checkerboard (switching the backgrounds between light and dark each picture), and currently I use a woodsy theme.
Themes can be anything from a consistent background to using certain props or certain filters to using a particular color scheme. It’s a matter of keeping SOMETHING consistent in your pictures that ties all of them together.
Do you need a theme? No. It’s a matter of whether or not YOU want a theme.
Types of Backgrounds
A photo background can be anything from your floor to a sheet to a piece of furniture. Reading in the park? There’s a backdrop right there. At a coffee shop? Snap a pic! Your background is whatever you want it to be.
If it’s something that can’t be moved (like the floor), pick a spot with decent natural lighting (I’ll get to that in a bit). If you can move your backdrop, then again, think about the lighting.
Backdrops on a Budget
Bookstagram is great but you don’t need to spend money to get pretty pictures. If you don’t have anything in your house (or don’t like anything) for your pictures, you have a few options that won’t break the bank:
- Poster/foam board. Head on over to your local dollar store or the craft section at stores like Wal-Mart and I bet you can find a piece of poster board or foam board for no more than a few dollars. These make great white backgrounds but can also help to bounce light.
- Craft signs/wood panels. Again, that craft section is your friend (though it may depend on the store). These are smaller wood boards already attached and generally either square or rectangular in shape. They’re perfect if you want a more rustic background as well as something that you can move around easily.
- Make your own! If you have old wood boards lying around your house (I dug up a few in our basement) you can make your own background!
- Adhesive vinyl/floor panels. These are those squares you see used for flooring that look real but are really just giant stickers. Depending on the size, one or a few of these attached to a board can give your photo that extra something. Sites like this one can help you out!
- Blankets & sheets. Your blanket, quilt, or sheet can be perfect for pictures. You can pull it taut or give it that rumpled look and you’re good to go.
- Nature. Step outside! Anything from the grass to a tree or a particularly nice bush can be the perfect background. Even better, it’s completely free!
I use 5 different backgrounds currently because I like all of them and can’t settle on one so to give you a few examples (I chose not to feature other accounts as I didn’t want to post without their permission but I encourage you to look through the #bookstagram tag on instagram to get ideas for backgrounds and photos in general!)
The ones on the left are using a wood panel board that I made using old boards I found in our basement. I attached them on the other side with two thin boards on either end, and then sanded and stained the top to give the wood that darker color using stuff we had around the house from past projects. The cost? Free.
The pictures on the right are using the SAME board. I painted the underside white so I had the option to use either background and all I have to do is flip it over.
The next 3 sets are using different colored craft sign boards that I picked up at Wal-Mart or online, all for $10 or less. Depending on the photo, I use some for flat-lays or sometimes as the “back wall” for a picture while another acts as the “floor.” Get creative with what you have!
You can do all sorts of things with just one backdrop regardless of what you use. The background sets the stage for your photo but it’s not the real star. That’s the book. So how do you make the superstar shine? I’ll be talking about props and lighting next!