Hooray! It’s my birthday today! (Hey, that rhymes!) I’m turning 21 today and that’s why I decided to make a list of 21 tips and tricks for Bookstagram and bookish photography. Taking bookish photos is definitely one of my favourite things to do, but it can be a bit difficult sometimes. Putting together this list was a lot of fun and I really hope these tips will be useful to you!
1. You do you and that’s what’s important. This is definitely the most important tip ever. If everyone did the same thing, our Instagram feeds (and the world) would be pretty boring. So no matter what tips and tricks I give you in this post, just remember that this is not THE way to do it. It’s just ONE way. Another thing to remember is that not everyone might like your style, and that’s okay too!
2. You don’t need a fancy camera. When I started my blog and Bookstagram, I was simply lucky I had a Canon DSLR. Is it necessary? Nope! Phones these days have wonderful cameras and they sometimes have more megapixels than a decent camera. Don’t go spend a fortune on them (yet)!
3. Practise makes (almost) perfect. When I compare my photos from May last year to now, there is a HUGE difference. And that doesn’t only have to do with all the new props that I got. It’s due to the fact that I’m getting better at photography and editing. I can’t tell you exactly how I did it, because it happened naturally. I’ve developed my own style, techniques and tricks.
4. Using other people’s photos for inspiration is okay. I love the ‘save’ option on Instagram, because that’s where I keep the photos I love and would like to “recreate” someday. I don’t exactly copy photos, but I do have a good look at them to learn new things and get new inspiration for my own photos.
5. Using an iPad or tablet (or eReader!) for bookish photos works just fine. The proportions for you device and the book might not match, but if you room in the cover a little, it looks much better! If you’re worried about glare and reflection, try this: keep the camera/your body away from your device as much as you can and zoom in a bit. Tadaaaa! You’ve just taken a beautiful bookish photo without an actual book!
6. Backdrops don’t have to be expensive. If you get your backdrops in the “wrong” place, it can cost you a lot of money. First of all, you can use tables, desks, floors, beds or any big enough surfaces in your house as a backdrop and it won’t cost you a thing.
7. Contact paper as a backdrop. You don’t need a “backdrop”! My first marble background was simple and cheap contact paper I got off eBay stuck to a MDF board I got at a construction store. I think it cost me last than €10 and it’s wonderful quality and durable too!
8. Minibackdrops. My wood-texture backdrop came from Minibackdrops. It’s a webshop with gorgeous backdrops for a very reasonable price! and they’re the perfect size for book photography. If you do want a “legit” backdrop, that’s the place to get it!
9. The best props are the ones you already own. Walk around your house and pick up any item that could work in a photo. Candles, vases, blankets, pillows, art… You name it! When I just started Bookstagram and my blog, my props were the things I could easily grab in my room. Candles, a fake flower I had lying around, stationary… You don’t need to spend any money!
10. Props don’t have to be expensive. Confession: the most expensive “prop” I use in my photos was about €8. It’s my turquoise coloured, rose shaped candle holder. It wasn’t specifically a photography prop, since it’s always on display/in use in my bedroom, but I do consider it a prop. All the other stuff I use, like fake flowers and candles were really cheap!
11. Think of the season! And by season I don’t just mean Autumn and Winter. I mean Christmas, New Years, holidays, birthdays… Anything! For Autumn, I bought some fake branches with leaves on them and I tried to use Autumnal colours. I’m already thinking about pictures for Christmas as well!
12. Got any old jewellery laying around!? Use it in your photos! I have lots of old jewellery that I used to wear in high school but eventually stopped wearing. Mostly it’s necklaces with pendants, charm bracelets and things I can cut apart to use beads as confetti. It gives your photos a brand new look!
13. Aesthetics. Personally, I suck at aesthetics. I try, but… fail. Anyway, you can get really far by using the same colours and filters in your photos! For example: I often use my wood backdrop in combination with my little white/orange/dark red bouquet and shades of brown from nature. Take a series of photos like this, and there you’ll have it: “matching” photos!
14. Take tons of shots! Oh goodness, this is so important! And I don’t mean “click your shutter ten times in a row”. I mean, once you got your set up right, take a bunch of photos from different angles. Even an inch/centimetre can make the difference! There’s nothing worse than taking a photo and not being able to use it.
15. Make sure you have enough natural light. I always take my pictures in front of a window and I make sure that I face the window so nothing can block the natural light! You could use expensive studio lighting, but nothing looks as good as natural light. I also wouldn’t suggest using your regular home lights, because it can look very artificial.
16. Take multiple photos at once. When I just started my blog and Bookstagram, I often just took the photo I “needed” or wanted to take and left it at that. Eventually I needed more photos for blogposts and decided to take a bunch of photos every week or every two weeks. It really helped me be as creative as I could be! Yes, my room was a disaster (really more like a bookish apocalypse) but I really think my photos got better!
17. Posting daily REALLY helps you gain followers, likes and interaction. I don’t have any solid stats as proof, but the first thing I noticed when I started posting daily, is the amount of likes I got, and the number of followers I gained. I remember posting about being close to 250 followers. Then I had another look and found I’d passed 260 already!
18. Get yourself out there by networking. With the new algorithm, it’s really hard to get likes, followers and interaction. I mean, I have 260 + followers but I only get 40 max. likes on my photos! You have to get yourself out there! I like to take about 15 minutes a day to leave comments on photos that I like. Not just on my own feed, but the ‘Discover’ feed as well! I follow new people, like photos and leave comments. Not everyone will return the “favour”, but trust me, it does help.
19. Rome wasn’t build in a day, neither is your Bookstagram. I’m often amazed by the amount of followers some people have. Why can’t I have that?! Well, do you know how long it’s taken them to get to that point!? Usually, you don’t. There are some rare cases of people just getting a huge amount of followers in a little amount of time, but usually you really have to work hard gain followers. Be patient!
20. Try to work with a schedule. This might not work for some people, but if if you really want to work on getting better at Bookstagram and grow your account, posting daily is a must. It’s easier to do if you plan ahead. For me it’s easy to plan a whole month since I schedule my blog posts. A week is fine too! Just plan a few hours each week to plan ahead, take the photos, edit and schedule. It’s easier than you think. I use Hootsuite to schedule my photos and it makes like a billion times easier.
21. It’s okay to delete “weird” and/or spammy comments. I always feel really awkward when some random person why I don’t know and who has a weird profile comments on my photos with “Beautiful!” “Nice picture!” or just emojis. Mostly these comments are for their own promotion and have nothing to do with your own photo. Just delete them! Chance is they don’t even care about your reply. Deleting those weird comments keeps your profile tidy and probably looks better if you ever participate in a rep search.
That’s all I have for you guys today! Do you have any Bookstagram or bookish photography tips and tricks to share?