A little less than a year ago, I wrote up a post about bookstagram and my struggles with the standards that seem to be in place on the platform: what makes a picture “good,” what people engage with more, etc. And all of what I said in that post still holds true for me but I’ve spent the months after writing it attempting to perfect a method that works for me to take pretty pictures with minimal time/effort.
Why? I don’t have the time for more.
I’m not someone who has the space to dedicate to taking book pictures. I use my bed because it has the best lighting in the house and is closest to my books. I take pictures between working two jobs and doing all the other things I have going on. And I highly doubt I’m the only one who’s busy and doesn’t always have the time to take pictures, which can be discouraging.
Fear not! I have a guide for taking bookstagram photos in 5 minutes or less for you!
This post will be broken up into parts so it doesn’t get too long and I’ll be revealing a new post each day this week!
- book(s) and/or eReader
- camera (can be your phone or a digital camera, your preference)
This guide will walk you through the steps I take for my own pictures in the order in which I generally think about them. Obviously it doesn’t mean it will work for you so you may want to adapt sections to suit your preferences.
Once this guide is complete, I will link to all the posts in the series on each post for easier navigation.
Step 1. Picking the Book
When it comes down to it, bookstagram is just instagram with books. It’s the commonality across all bookstagram accounts and, to me, that makes picking a book to photograph the very first step.
Why you might pick a book:
- You love it. It’s always good to show your support for your favorite books and authors. A great way to do that is show off their books in your photos!
- It has a pretty cover. Admit it. You probably judged a book by its cover a time or two (or three…). A beautiful cover can catch the eye and makes photographing it all the more fun.
- To start a discussion. Maybe you want to talk about certain elements of a book. A great way to start it is by using that book in your photo.
- Currently reading. This is a great option for choosing a book. Talk about what you’re reading right now!
Whatever your reason for picking the book(s) you do, you have your book now. So how do you want to photograph it?
Staging the Book
Books hold all sorts of possibilities for taking pictures. You can show off the cover art with a flat lay or drop it up against the wall. Maybe you want to get in a spine shot and show off a stack of books. What about opening the pages and displaying all those beautiful words? There’s no right or wrong way to take a picture so pick the one you like the most.
Physical Books vs e-Readers
You don’t need physical books to be a bookstagrammer.
You don’t need to own physical books to be a bookstagrammer.
You don’t need to own e-books to be a bookstagrammer.
The book community on instagram is about BOOKS. The format doesn’t matter. Do you use your library a lot? Use those books! Like eBooks? Snap a pic of your eReader with the cover of your current read or one of its pages! Listen to audiobooks? Take a picture of your device while you have it open!
Don’t feel limited because you don’t own brand new hardcovers. I think there’s a level of privilege that comes with having a large book collection on-hand and it’s not something that many people have access to. You shouldn’t feel limited or disconnected from the community because of that. If you read, then you have books in SOME form. The source doesn’t matter. The format doesn’t matter. If you want to have a bookstagram , do it!
When photographing eReaders / phone screens
These can be tricky to capture without a glare so I recommend finding a spot that has good light and testing angles to place your device. I don’t know of any tried and true method of photographing device screens (if you do, please let me know so I can link it here!). It comes down to trial and error depending on where you’re taking pictures.
Considerations when Choosing a Book
While bookstagram is open to all kinds of readers, certain books do tend to do better in pictures compared to others. This isn’t always the case, it’s not the rule of the platform, but it does happen. So I encourage y’all to think about what books you’re picking. Is it one that you see everyone else use all the time? Try something new, maybe a book you don’t see get as much love.
The great thing about instagram as a photo app is that you can use any book in a pretty photo and find a new reader for it. So share those diverse books, those underrated books you love, indie/small pubbed books! It doesn’t mean you can’t share your fave titles that are already popular, just change things up sometimes!