I know I’ve been putting up a lot of very long posts recently, so I thought I’d write something a little shorter and more light-hearted today. If you didn’t know, I have a Bookstagram account, which is an Instagram page dedicated to books! I actually started my bookstagram a good year before i started this blog, although some of the older pictures are questionable to say the least! 😂 If you want to check it out then you can find me under @theoriginalbookdragon
I have been running this bookstagram account for almost 3 years now I think, so I am fairly experienced in it and have picked up a good few tips and tricks along the way for making my feed look how I want it to and how to take photos. Today i thought I would share it all with you to give you an idea of what I do and hopefully the confidence to start your own Bookstagram if that’s what you want to do!
How to set up an account:
Starting a Bookstagram account is incredibly easy! All you have to do is create an Instagram account and start posting photos of books! I know I was apprehensive about starting a Bookstagram account for the longest time because I thought my pictures would never be as aesthetic as the people I had followed for years and no-one would ever really care what I was reading, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
You’re probably tired of hearing the advice “Just Do It” and “There’s no better time than the present” and honestly, I am too, but every word of it is true and I think once you learn that and implement that advice into everything you do, your life will become 100% better in so many ways. One of my favourite quotes is “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” because it is so damn true. It isn’t necessarily giving advice either; it’s just a fact that is stated clearly for you to interpret how you like. 12 year old me NEVER would have believed that I would have over 800 followers on Instagram, a book blog and truly feel as if I deserve to have those because I never thought I would be able to create content people would care about, but here’s the thing…. You don’t have to create content people care about. Once I made the leap and started the account, I fell in love instantly! I was following so many inspiring people and had other like-minded people to talk to about books, which was my one light in the dark at that time in my life. Just over a year later, I started this blog and here we are almost a year and a half later!
The only real advice I would give to you when setting up an account is to really put some time and effort into your bio and your profile picture. If you feel comfortable, I always think it is better to have yourself in the photo (probably with a book as well given what kind of account were talking about), but it doesn’t have to include your face – mine doesn’t. Keep your bio short and sweet, but tell people the information you want them to know. Some good things to include are things like what country your from, what hogwarts house your in, the book your currently reading, a few hobbies/job etc. Your pictures might be what attracts the followers, but it is the personality that makes people stay and engage with your content!
What you will need:
You do not need any fancy equipment. You do not need any fancy equipment. You do not need any fancy equipment.
Have you got the message yet? I don’t want anyone to go away from this post thinking they have to buy a really expensive camera, loads of books and props and god-knows what else because you don’t. I am very lucky and I did start my account after I already owned a damn good camera, but that was bought for other reasons and trust me, it didn’t help much. Having a good camera means nothing if you don’t know how to take and edit photos, which I didn’t at the time.
I would honestly say that the only things you need to start a Bookstagram account are:
- A few books
- A phone (you can get editing apps on there too – I highly recommend Snapseed by the way!)
- A passion for reading and a desire to share it with the world
At the end of the day if you love reading and want to share that with the world, then all you need is a phone to capture the photo you want and the rest will come from there.
A lot of people use some sort of ‘props’ in their bookish photos as well and I agree that it can add a lot of interest to the photo; however, they are not necessary and you don’t have to worry about not having any. I didn’t have any props when I started, but you will start collecting things over the years and you’d be surprised what sort of things actually make really good props. A good example is Pop Vinyls. I’m sure you’ve all heard of them and I know I desperatley wanted all of them when I first found the online bookish community because I thought they’d look great in photos and everyone else had them, so naturally I wanted to feel included. I do have a few Harry Potter pop vinyls, but I’m going to let you in on a secret here… They aren’t great props…! A lot of people use them, but they are honestly really difficult to work with because most of them are so top heavy that they won’t stand up, they rarely fit with the ‘aesthetic’ of the picture and some (like thestrals or creatures) just won’t sit right for a flatlay. So don’t worry about it and just use what you have or can obtain easily and cheaply: dried flowers are so easy to get and free if you just pick some from outside (only ones you’re allowed to though), shiny rocks, bookmarks, a house plant, your journal. All of these things can be used as props, so don’t feel like you have to buy all of the popular bookish merch to take good photos – although it doesn’t hurt to spoil yourself sometimes!
One super easy prop is a few old books too! If you have an old book you don’t mind destroying, then rip out a few pages for backdrops, make some origami related to the book out of book page, highlight your favourite quote from a copy of the book you found at the charity shop for 50p, crack the spine to use as a backdrop or chuck it in water! It’s yours so do what you want with it! I always have a few old books on hand for when I’m feeling particularly pissed and need to rip something up and it helps me create something at the same time, so get down to the charity shop and give them a new home 🙂
BTS – How I take my Bookstagram Photos:
You will find your own method of taking photos that suits you as you go and how you take them will, of course, depend on what style of photos you’re taking. I personally mostly do flat-lays, but do occasionally delve into bookish self-portraits. There are some who do far more extravagant photos and Photoshop loads of stuff in or make wings and towers out of books, so if that is what you’re looking to do then I suggest you have a look at @frombeewithlove or @elizabeth_sagan. If you are looking to do more complicated photos, then you may need to invest in a tripod or get someone to take the photo for you, if your comfortable with that. I know I wouldn’t be though, so one trick I do have is if you take a cardboard box, cut a hole in it big enough to put the camera of your phone through and then set it on a self-timer or to repeatedly take photos and stick it to the ceiling!
On the rare occasion that I do take bookish self-portraits, I put my camera on my tripod and connect it to my phone because I have an app on my phone that allows me to control my camera remotely, which is amazing and perfect for self-portraits when you’re shy or just don’t have any friends like me 😂. I happen to have the proffesional equipment anyway because I am a photographyer, but I didn’t always have a tripod, so I had to balance my camera is some strange places. One amazing example was the time I lay on the floor and balanced it on my feet that were sticking up in the air and there was the time I took almost all my books off my shelf to make one MEGA book stand that acted as my tripod for me. One hot tip for trying to stick your phone in weird places is bluetack. If you use enough of it, then it will hold your phone for a while, but just be quick! Bluetack also works if you need your camera to be angled up a bit, so just put a wedge of it under the front of the camera!
For my flat lays I personally use an old white bedsheet as a background (because my own is permanently stained bluish from my black leggings!) and then I just arrange the photo I want and take it. You can use your phone for this if that is all you have though. I will get onto coming up with ideas for your bookish photos in a minute, but I wanted to take this moment to remind you all that it’s okay if your photos ‘suck’ at first. You aren’t going to instantly be amazing at it, but I PROMISE you will improve. I look back at photos I took over a year ago that I was super proud of at the time and wonder what the hell I was thinking because it no longer suits my style and is pretty crap in comparison to my photos now. My point is that you will impress yourself with what you’re able to do and the more you do it the more you will improve.
Coming Up With Ideas:
As someone who has been running a bookstagram account for over 2 years now, I know first hand how difficult it can be to keep coming up with new ideas. My top tip for this is to utilise the ‘save’ feature on Instagram photos. Follow accounts that you love and that inspire you and everytime you see a photo you really love, save it to a separate collection, so that when the time comes to take some photos, you can go back to that collection to get inspired.
Try not to fall into the habit of just copying the photos from your favourite account; however, having said that, a lot of bookish photos are fairly similar to each other because there really are only so many ways you can photograph a book. The real magic comes from how you edit the photo! It might also be a good idea to try and replicate a few of your all time favourite photos from other people, but with your own spin. Like I said, it is quite difficult to get an ‘original’ flat lay, so don’t worry too much about seeming like copying and just do you.
I always feel more inspired to take book photos when I’ve just bought new books because I have some new covers to photograph and I’m already hyped up from buying them. You don’t have to go out a buy new books to feel inspired though. If you find you want some new book covers to photograph then you can always borrow books from your local library or buy them cheaper from a charity shop. I find it equally as good to just look at the books I already have though and see what different ways I can photograph them. Some covers will be more photogenic than others, but that all depends on your editing style and the aesthetic you’re going for. My advice would be to start with a book you really love and then see what other fun covers you have or props that you want to find a book to match. Remember to open the books as well because some will have cool maps, chapter headers or pictures, which all make great photos!
- Don’t compare yourself to others because the chances are they’ve been at it a lot longer than you
- let your personality shine through
- Use hashtags relevant to the post (i.e. if you’ve posted a photo with a Harry potter book in it, then use hashtags such as #harrypotter #jkrowling #harrypotterandthechamberofsecrets etc.
- Ask questions in the caption to get people engaged
- comment on other people’s photos to improve engagement and make friends in the community
- Take part in sfs (Shoutout for Shoutout for those who don’t know)
- Have fun and enjoy your time in the online bookish community! – It’s a great community that has brought me so much joy and I’m sure it can do the same for you 😊😉❤
And that is all the advice I have for you all! I hope that you give it shot and start up a Bookstagram because I promise you won’t regret it :). I hope you’ve found this post helpful, but feel free to leave a comment down below if you have any more questions because I would be happy to answer any of them! You can come and chat to me over on my Bookstagram too: @theoriginalbookdragon and give me a follow to see my bookish photos several times a week!
Goodbye for now!
Over and Out