5 Tips to Take #Bookstagram Worthy Photos

Taking gorgeous Instagram photos of books that gain follower attention and likes doesn’t need to be that hard. You don’t need to be a professional photographer lugging around a DSLR camera and six different lenses to get that photo that’s going to have everyone saying ‘wow heart emoji heart emoji’. 

Tips for Bookstagram Photos Blog

Here are 5 tips to get you on top of your Bookstagram photo game.

Whether you just want to take really artistic photos of your Harry Potter book collection (basically me) or you want to launch your own #bookstagram page, these tips will have you mastering the ‘gram in no time.

1) Walk, Don’t Run

I’m gonna start off with some pretty common sense – plan out your content. 

We’re not chasing likes here. Have you ever known someone to finish a marathon who just started running yesterday? (If you do, please let me know. But I don’t think the Flash is running marathons.)

Planning out your content allows you to take a step back and make sure that everything you are putting up on your feed offers value to your followers. So, here’s a few quick tips to get you through the Instagram Marathon without passing out at the first water station:

  • Create a content calendar. This will be your life saver. You can print out a calendar and write out what you want to do everyday or there are dozens of project management softwares out there to help you plan. Especially if you’re working in a team, programs like Trello and Smartsheet can be very handy. (Note: some of these are free while others require a subscription.)
  • Block off a few hours a week to take photos. Instead of rushing to take some photos in between going to work and reading all the books on your TBR, take a few hours a week just for photos.
  • Find sources of inspiration. We’ve all been there. Sometimes you just can’t find the motivation or that damn light bulb won’t turn on to tell you what picture to take. So look for inspiration. Take a notebook with you when you leave the house or use a note taking app. Write down images, locations, or books that inspire you. Create a Pinterest board (my personal favourite option – although I admittedly end up scrolling and pinning for hours and hours on end). Save images you like from accounts you like on Instagram. 
Screenshot of Book Pinterest board
Here is an example of my Pinterest board

2) You Don’t Need to Go to School to Learn Basic Photography Skills

  • Lighting
    • Do not disregard how important lighting is to your photos. Lighting can overexpose or wash out your photo if not used correctly. The best thing to do is find natural sources of light. Take photos outside, next to windows, by streetlamps, and other forms of ambient light.
    • Natural light is your best asset. The best time to take pictures is at golden hour, which is the time shortly after sunrise and before sunset. This can create a soft lighting effect on your photos. Shooting directly in afternoon sun can create harsh qualities. If you’re shooting during the day, choose a time when it’s slightly overcast for the best effect. So don’t stay inside when it’s cloudy, get out there and start taking photos!
Photo of The Nightingale in harsh light
Harsh overhead indoor lighting
Photo of The Nightingale in natural light
Natural light through window
  • Rule of Thirds
    • Composition is extremely important to your photo and rule of thirds is the best way to balance your photo. The rule of thirds is a 3×3 grid applied to your photo that helps to line up the subject and objects in your photo. With this you can play around with symmetry or asymmetry to create different creative looks with your photos. 
Photo of The Nightingale on phone
  • Negative Space
    • Play around with negative space – the parts of your photo where subjects and objects are not taking up space. Negative space creates breathing room in your photos and gives space for focus on your subject. As well, if you are looking to edit the photo into something more creative, it leaves you space for graphics or text.
Photo of Frankenstain with negative space

If you do want to take up some courses in photography, Coursera and Udemy are some online platforms with affordable photography classes.

3) Your Phone Is Your BFF

I think sometimes there is this misconception that you need to have the newest Canon or Nikon camera to take a good photo. That’s a lie. You don’t need to go buying a $700 camera right away when the tool you need is already in your pocket.

Play with your phone settings and take some time to explore everything that you can do. I just discovered that my phone (a Samsung S10) has an actual Food setting, you know, for when I want my fish tacos to look just right in my Instagram story. While you can’t do as much as you can with a fancy digital camera, your phone is a trusty sidekick that will not let you down.

4) Use Your BFF’s Skills (Especially When They Offer Them for Free)

You don’t need Photoshop or some fancy expensive editing software to edit your photos like the pros. Remember your BFF, your phone? Well your BFF is more than just a pretty face. There are hundreds of apps out there, both free and paid, to edit your photos. My personal go-to apps are Snapseed and Adobe Lightroom.

  1. Snapseed is available on Android and iPhone and comes with preset filters as well as dozens of tools to edit contrast, white balance, and more. You can even get creative with text and frame options. 
Picture of Wuthering Heights with Rose - Before
Image of Snapseed settings
Snapseed Editing Options
Picture of Wuthering Heights with Rose - After
  1. Adobe Lightroom has all of the best features of Photoshop squeezed into a free mobile app. If you just need to do simple editing, forget subscribing monthly to Photoshop. This little app is all you need. You can select preset filters, adjust exposure and colour, crop, and more.

5) Be Bold and Get Creative

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your photos. Everyone on #bookstagram is a person with a camera and a 1000 books, so find ways to make yourself stand out in the crowd. My favourite thing to do is use props. Household items, surfaces, fun decorations on your shelves – all of these things can make perfect additions to your photos.

Use your surroundings. Make nature your canvas and use trees, flowers, and buildings as backdrops and props. Your world is unique to you and what you can photograph is not the same as what another can, so use it to your advantage. Have fun with what’s around you.

Find us on Instagram @bibliomavens for our #bookstagram content. Check out our Blog for more tips and tricks for your Bookstragram account.

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