Bookstagram Tips: How To Take Better Pictures

Instagram is considered the premiere social media site for pictures. There are so many different ways to connect with other book lovers on this app, so whether you’re just throwing quick reviews up, posting super aesthetic pictures for your collection, or even just taking random snapshots of your little posing pet. Some of the more popular book accounts are filled with artsy shots that showcase covers in vivid color or with cool backgrounds. Now, I know many people feel like they do not possess the necessary photography skills to pull off some of the more intricate, but it all comes down to one thing: planning

Step 1: Decide on the subject of the photo.

Are you going for rich color schemes? Are you posting because you think a particular cover art is interesting, or because you want folks to know you’re having an amazing afternoon reading with a lovely companion? Deciding what the focal point/subject of your photo is the first and most crucial step.

Step 2: Perhaps include some props.

If you’re reading in some beautiful location, you probably don’t need any props. The ocean is naturally gorgeous without any help. But if you’re just posting from home or some other general location, consider adding something extra. For example if it is autumn, a scarf, some shells or pieces of jewelry, or even a cup of piping hot coffee will do the trick. Sometimes, it’s easy to match some props with the subject of your book. If you’re reading a book with loads of flowers on the cover, you could add some more around it. Play around with it to see what works for you.

Step 3: Choose an appropriate backdrop.

Now, this is where it starts to get only slightly complicated. In general, you don’t want to clutter the photo too much, because then whoever is looking at the photo won’t know what it is they’re meant to look at in the first place. Remember step 1? Keep the point of your photograph firmly in mind.

The background could be a wooden surface, your tiled floor, a wall, a table top, a pretty bed sheet or other cloth that isn’t too wrinkled up. Look up the complementary colors of the main shade of your book and try to use contrast to your advantage. If your book is blue, you can use a yellow or orange background to really make it pop. If the cover is super busy, consider whether it might get lost in a patterned background. Try different things until you get something you like or is visually appealing. Simple is great. Cluttered can also be great. Experiment to find what looks best to you.

Pro Tip: play around with depth perception. Want your background to be blurry and low-key? Make sure it’s far away from your subject so your camera doesn’t capture it in focus. You can also make certain things look much bigger (or smaller) than they actually are by placing them at different distances from the camera lens.

Step 4: Good lighting is a major key. 

Natural lighting yields the best results. You can filter sunlight through white-colored materials such as curtains to make sure you get some nice, soft coverage on your subject, or use shades to your advantage to make cool patterns. If you need a little bit more light on one side of your image, grab something reflective, like a white piece of poster or cardboard, or even some aluminum foil to bounce a little more light onto your subject. If that does not work for you try uneven lighting. And if you must rely on artificial lighting – again, it works just fine.

Step 5: Drop the filters.

Don’t rely purely on the Instagram filters. Some of the most interesting photos come out of tinkering with the general settings. Drop the filters, and just play around with the contrast, fade, highlights, and other built-in tools. You can play with colors, make the image sharper or less in focus, isolate what you’d like to be in focus, and etc.

Your job isn’t over once you’ve snapped the picture – always, always do some touching up. At the very least, make sure the colors are on point using the contrast, brightness, warmth, and saturation tools. Some tips: warmth goes from blue (cold) to orange (hot). If you’re indoors and your photo is looking a little yellow because of the lighting, just slide the warmth bar to the left and cool your photo down a bit. Saturation, on the other hand, tends to add a bit of a red, so those are the colors that’ll be affected the most if you slide them right. If you slide it left, you’ll take your picture to black and white.

Need some inspiration? Check out some book-related hashtags, like: #books, #bookstagram, and #bookaholic, #booknerd, and much more. Make sure you play around with them and see what fits your picture the best. The worst thing you can do is hashtag your pics with stuff that has no correlation.

Pro Tip: Also, make sure follow our Instagram page @uncutbookbox