Everything in these posts are just my opinions and I’m obviously not saying my way is the right way/only way. You don’t have to agree with me and you don’t have to follow my advice.
I briefly touched on taking photos in part one of this series but I wanted to go more a little more in depth on the subject. The most common question I get on social media is how I take my book pictures and I think it’s the most intimidating part of starting a book account on Instagram. But it’s actually not as difficult or complicated as one might think.
What to take your photos with
Despite what a lot of people think, you don’t need a fancy, expensive camera to take really great photos. I know a lot of people with beautiful accounts that use their phone camera to take their photos. I currently use a Canon Rebel t3i and a 18-55mm IS II Lens, which is the lens that comes with the camera body, for all of my photos but I have used my phone camera in the past. So just use whatever you have available.
If you’re looking for high quality photos, it’s not necessarily the actual camera that will provide that. It’s the lens. So don’t be discouraged if you have the same camera body as someone else and your photos don’t look the same. They might have a different lens.
Setting up your photos
The most important thing about photography in general, in my opinion, is good lighting. Lighting will make or break your photo. Natural light is the best for pictures but artificial light works as well. So find a place that has a nice amount of light and start there. You can use your bed or a blanket, a wall or your bookshelf, anywhere you want. You don’t have to pick just one place either. Experiment with different locations, lighting, and filters. Find whatever style of photography you like best and roll with it. You don’t have commit to one setting, one filter, or one style for long term either. Do what you like and if you change your mind in a week or a month or a year, that’s totally okay.
When you’re taking your photos, try to get different angles. You don’t typically want all your photos to look the same. For example, you don’t want two photos with the book being tilted to the left to be posted back to back.
Try a bunch of different poses with your book(s), trying tilting the book or even your camera in different directions.
I like to take my pictures outside. I feel like I have more options for locations and I don’t get bored with my Instagram. Plus, I don’t have many places with good lighting in my house.
Editing your photos
There are a ton of photo editing apps out there and a lot of them are really good. My personal favorites are Afterlight, Vsco, and Aviary.
I mostly use Photoshop to edit my pictures because I’m very familiar with it and that’s what I use for my professional work as well but I’ll often use Vsco or Aviary for touch ups in adding brightness or changing the exposure. I honestly don’t think Photoshop is a necessary editing tool for book photography and I think Afterlight, Vsco, and Aviary can edit photos just as well as Photoshop.
Here are a couple of side by side comparison of unedited (left) and edited (right).
Because this picture was taken on a cloudy day, I added brightness and changed the exposure. I sharpened the overall image and added a few highlights.
For this photo, I added a higher exposure, took out some highlights, added more warmth and used the A7 filter from Vsco.
For this shot, I just added the fade tool from Vsco to +7 and added +1 brightness.
If I’m editing in Aviary, I’ll most likely use the “Lunch” filter from the pack #EEEEEATS. This gives a natural look to the photo and mostly just enhances the colors.
If I edit in Vsco, I’ll use the A7 filter or just use the fade tool. I really like that “Tumblr” look to pictures so I’ll often just use the fade tool.
Editing is a normal part of any type of photography. It doesn’t matter how expensive your camera is, editing is part of being a photographer. It takes time, sometimes more time than one would like, but it’s worth it. Don’t give up it you don’t like your pictures right away.
Picking a Theme
A lot of accounts have a theme and there’s nothing wrong with that but you definitely don’t have to have one. You don’t need to take all of your pictures in the same place, with the exact same lighting, and the same filter if you don’t want to. You can take some of your pictures indoors and some outdoors, you can use different lighting. If you take one picture that looks amazing with a filter that’s different from your regular filter, that’s totally fine. If you like it, that’s all that matters.
But using the same filter does help all of your pictures match so I do recommend trying to use one filter if you’re going to be using a bunch of different locations. But don’t stress about one or two pictures not looking exactly the same. Bookstagram is supposed to be fun not stressful.
Also, chances are, no one is going to notice little differences in your photos. I’ve spent a lot of time stressing over making sure my pictures all have the exact same lighting but in the end, no one noticed or cared about the small changes in lighting. You’re going to be 100x more critical of your pictures than anyone else and that’s okay. Just don’t let it get in the way of enjoying Bookstagram.
Taking Inspiration From Others
If you’re feeling stuck on your pictures, try looking at photos from around the Bookstagram community. I often do this if I’m lacking ideas for new pictures.
It’s totally okay to take inspiration from other photographers as long as you don’t directly copy them. If you use a direct set up or idea from someone, give them credit as the person who inspired you.
I think that’s all of the photo advice that I can think of. If you have any questions or I missed anything that you’d like to know about, comment below or shoot me a message on IG.