By Elizabeth Sagen (@elizabeth_sagen)
It all starts with a notebook and some poorly drawn sketches. So poorly drawn that no one but me would understand what’s there.
I’m often asked where my inspiration comes from. The nice answer is life, with everything that is has to offer, like books, movies, events; I’m using symbols that people can relate to: a hand, a heart or logos that are fandom related. But the more honest and somewhat funny would be despair (haha, that’s a joke, only a joke!). But there is as much as you can do using books and after that many months, I’m always surprised and relieved when I get new ideas for a new batch of pics. Sometimes I find a concept that I like on Instagram and I want to use it (always crediting the account that inspired me) and sometimes I feel the need to upgrade my feed – lately I started using colourful backgrounds and moving images that offer me much more options that just the wooden floor that I used a few months ago.
Anyway, after the sketches, there comes the long way to the only place where I can take my pics, and that’s my friend’s house, because he has a great book collection, a big room and a lot of time on his hands (the last one is a lie).
And here I need to mention two rules of taking good bookish photos:
1. Good lighting. I can’t stress enough how important this is. In fact, when I’m taking my pics, I’m at the light’s mercy; and, surprisingly, the worst thing possible is having too much sunlight (at least in my case), because it creates shadows on the floor and the photo is ruined. I’m the happiest when I get a cloudy, even rainy day.
2. Symmetry. This is why the geometrical forms work so well on Bookstagram. A circle, a square, a triangle; there’s something inside us that make us long for symmetry, for things that look well-balanced, and for math classes.
And then there comes the long process of setting up the pic, process that can take up from 30 minutes to two hours (or even more, but it rarely happened). I’m using a camera that has a flip screen which has been a lifesaver and helped so much with the flatlays and also a stick that we use to take the pic from as high as possible. As for the camera that I’m using, it’s a Nikon 1 NIKKOR, but in my opinion as long as it takes clear pic any camera is good to go.
And now to the editing, that can also take up from 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on the complexity of the pic. The first step is Photoshop, where I’m adding special effects like sparks, lights, wings etc. I’m trying to use it as little as possible because the less edited looks the pic, the better. I’m mostly using it to crop the pic and make it look symmetrical. You don’t want to fill your picture with sparks and spells, making it look fake. A drop of magic is enough. Plus, it takes less time this way.
Then I’m transferring the picture on my phone and I use Snapseed (for structure, contrast, saturation and adding a few filters) and then Lightroom (that is such a great app because you can desaturate and saturate only the colours that you want, not the entire pic).
The last part is writing the caption. I used to struggle with this one, until I realised that the best strategy is honesty and just saying whatever goes through your mind. Be honest. Be relatable. Talk about what you’re reading, about your day, about your random thoughts and your insecurities (we all have them). And engage as much as you can, because if someone took the time to write a comment on your post, then you should also take the time to reply to it.
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About the Author
So I'm Elizabeth Sagan and I'm a fiction junkie. I love the written words and if this would be a fantasy book I'd either be the Storyteller or the Dragon Sla... Tamer. I would never kill a dragon. Now joking aside, I'm an avid reader and I have been since 7th grade. A few years ago I took an unfortunate reading break, but fortunately I managed to come back to my one true love. We've never been happier haha.
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