There are a lot of “how-to” posts out there in the blogisphere when it comes to bookstagram. How to get the most engagement, likes, and followers. What to do (and not do) with your account. What time of day to post, how often to post, how many hashtags to use, and how long (or short) your caption should be. It’s exhausting. And the truth is you should make your account your own. Do what you love. That’s the most important (and sustainable) way to have a good account.
What I don’t see a lot of are posts about tips or tools bookstagrammers use to show off their photos in the best light. Yes, pun intended. They might be out there, but everyone’s tips, tools, and secrets are going to be different. I’m giving you a few of mine today. I hope you’ll find something useful.
Most of my secrets come at a pretty nominal cost, especially when you consider how often I use them. For the most part, they’re also all about making the most of the space and the lighting I have. If you live in an apartment or house with gorgeous lighting and all the space you could need, these might not be all that helpful for you. That’s not my reality, so I have to work with what I’ve got and make some adjustments along the way.
There are two spots in my apartment with halfway decent lighting (depending on the time of day). One is my reading nook, in case you’re wondering why you see a lot of photos there. The other is directly underneath the big window in my living room. I have a small cube bookshelf there, so I don’t have a lot of room to work with.
That brings me to my first must-have: the large corkboard. Mine is 36″x36″ and I bought it at Hobby Lobby for $19.99 (with an additional 40% off, naturally). It gives me a much larger surface to work with than the top of my shelf alone. This is kinda what it looks like while I’m taking photos. (But I’m usually using my iPhone. I only break out the “big camera” when I need some phone photos for my audiobooks.)
Of course, I also need to cover it because literally no one wants corkboard as a background for their book photos. 😂 I’d looked at several backdrops before ultimately deciding on this one. It does the job. I’m still in the market for a couple more options, provided the price is right. Of course, this time of year I’m all about scarves and blankets for a background so my backdrop isn’t getting as much use.
Now, arguably the most important part…
All About that Light
The struggle to find good, even light is real. At least it is for me when I’m at home. I love my little apartment, but the light leaves a lot to be desired sometimes. This is why I tend to take literally weeks worth of photos when the light is working for me. (It’s also why I take a bunch of blank Kindle screen photos, but more on that later.)
I’ve tried a couple of different photography lighting options, but I never like my photos as well as I do when the light is natural. Instead, I try to take my photos when the light is halfway decent and use a couple of items to help improve it even more. The cheaper solution is a piece of white foam board. I use that to help reflect the light coming in my window to more evenly hit my setup. If I need a little boost, I use a real deal light reflector. (Note: the latter really helps offset any weird shadows.)
One of my favorite setup secrets…
Mastering the Stacks
Do you ever see photos of perfect stacks of books standing up and wonder how in the world did they get them to stay like that? Is it magic? Luck? For me, it’s clear bookends! Shhhh.
If you get the right angle, you can’t see them at all. And you can always get creative and cover them with flowers or something if it doesn’t work the first time. 😉
Perfect eReader Photos
If you’ve followed me on Instagram for any length of time, you’ll notice I have nearly as many eReader photos as I do physical copy photos. I struggled and stumbled for a long time on how to make them live up to my expectations. I’ve seen dozens of tutorials for using programs like Canva to place covers or take a better photo the first time around. Me? I use Photoshop. I’m a perfectionist. I also don’t really like true flatlays, so the other tutorials never worked for me. With Photoshop, I can distort the cover image to get the perfect fit and even overlay a plain black layer to remove any annoying glare. It’s not a cheap solution, but I have a Photoshop subscription for my design work so I choose to make the most out of it.
(Bonus: taking dozens of Kindle images with blank covers lets me come up with a quick photo on those unmotivated days or when I need a quick cover reveal photo.)
(Bonus #2: I can easily reuse photos and swap out cover images if I need to down the road if I’m particularly unmotivated because I save the PSD versions of every photo.)
Those are a few of my bookstagram secrets. Maybe I’ll give you a few more of mine down the road if you’re interested. If you have any to share, let me know. I’m always down for more tips and tricks!
Do you have any bookstagram secrets you’d be willing to share?
Want to see all my Blogtober posts? See them here: blogtober19.