With the turn of the decade, it’s likely many of us have compiled a fresh set of goals we’re eagerly planning to pursue throughout the course of 2020 and beyond. For some of us, one of those goals might include taking a leap of faith and finally kick-starting that bookstagram account we’ve always dreamed of. For others, it may be a case of continuing to creatively evolve an already-established bookstagram. Either way, a vital component to the success of any bookstagram account — irrespective of whether it’s brand spanking new or been around for years— is of course, a feed comprised of eye-catching bookish photography.
As someone who’s been on bookstagram since 2017, I’ve come to learn a bit about bookish photography styles during my time on the platform. And while it seems obvious to me now, I’ll never forget the cluelessness I experienced in the early days of running my account, when I was tasked with figuring out different ways to showcase my books in order to snap an aesthetically-pleasing photo. As such, in an effort to help out any bookstagram newbies who may be facing a similar dilemma, or perhaps experienced bookstagrammers struggling in a creative dry spell, I’ve decided to compile a short list of bookish photography styles that I’ve found to be really effective when it comes to sharing your beloved reads with the bookstagram community. Sound good? Alright, let’s dive in!
Bookish Flat Lay:
Ah, the good old flat lay. A personal favourite, and the first bookish photography style I experimented with on my account. For those unsure, a bookish flat lay refers to a photo taken from a bird’s-eye view of a book and (possibly) other items arranged on a flat surface. The book is usually the main focus of the photo and any other items (such as props or digital embellishments), strategically placed to enhance or complement the book.
Flat lays are a great way of showcasing the front covers of books — allowing you to capture small artistic details that are often missed when utilising other photography styles. For this reason, flat lays have become my go-to style when promoting books in collaboration with publishers or individual clients who typically want the book title, author’s name and cover graphics clearly displayed in the photo. Flat lays are also handy as they allow you to distinctly feature multiple books in the same picture, and in my experience, are usually the easiest and fastest bookish displays to set up, photograph and pack down —perfect for beginners and those who are time-poor!
If you’ve ever perused bookstagram, chances are you’ve come across the odd bookish display or fifty. A bookish display usually features a stack of books arranged in varying configurations intermixed with a number of different props. Typically, the size and positioning of the books utilised in each stack will determine the overall shape of the display. I’ve seen people create everything from bookish pyramids and spirals to bookish bridges and towers of various heights (some as tall, if not taller, than the bookstagrammer themselves!). I personally prefer to create displays that showcase a small to medium stack of books as I find this more manageable to setup and photograph, but it’s totally up to you to decide how simple or elaborate you want your bookish displays to be —and guys, the possibilities are honestly endless!
In regards to sourcing different props to showcase in your displays, I find objects that balance upright are usually the most effective (as most bookish displays are vertical in structure). Whilst props can typically constitute any aesthetically-pleasing objects you have laying around your house, I’ll take a moment to list down a few ideas to help you out. Props I regularly find myself reaching for include: candles, vases, clocks, statues, mugs, ornaments, cameras and flowers. I’ve also discovered the Funko Pop! vinyl figurines tend to make great props—I’m forever using my Harry Potter character collection to liven up displays! So, there you have it. Overall, I think bookish displays are an extremely versatile photography style that can really enhance any bookstagram feed!
For the mega-committed bookstagrammers amongst us, there is always the option to try out a bookish photography style I’ve come to know as ‘book art’. Put simply, book art refers to the use of books arranged to create a range of different images or symbols. These images are usually captured in flat lay format, but I have seen a few talented bookstagrammers snap pictures of 3D book art from differing angles. Throughout my bookstagram career, I’ve only attempted book art a handful of times in which I’ve managed to create a love heart, rainbow circle and Deathly Hallows symbol.
And the verdict? Well, despite being both difficult and very time-consuming, I found the challenge of creating book art both exciting and rewarding! Certainly not something I’d encourage the novice bookstagrammer to attempt, but worth a shot if you’re looking to catapult your creative photos to a new level. Below are some examples of my book art creations, but if you’re interested in seeing how the pros do it, I’d implore you to check out the likes of @elizabeth_sagan and @james_trevino —their work is seriously astonishing!
Books Gone Wild:
Okay, for my lucky last suggestion, allow me to pose a question: what happens when you mix books with nature? Well, you get a bookish photography style I’ve effectively coined ‘books gone wild’ of course! ‘Books gone wild’ is a nifty technique that sees bookstagrammers utilising outdoors landscapes as a backdrop for their bookish photography. Whilst I’ve never personally tried this out (as it’s not conducive with my feed), I’ve seen numerous other accounts feature this style, and, in my opinion, if done well, it looks stunning.
Picture this: instead of photographing the last bestseller you read on a boring wooden table, why not head to the beach and snap a bookish picture in front of the crashing waves? Live near the woods? Well, what better location to show off your new YA fantasy than amongst the pines? Utilising natural settings can really enhance the aesthetics of a bookish photo—especially when the natural setting is matched to the setting of the book. Who doesn’t want to see the Harry Potter series photographed on a hill in front of a castle wall? Or the Chronicles of Narnia books showcased by a gloved hand in the glowing snow? Making use of outdoor landscapes is both a unique and captivating way of spicing up your bookstagram account —so, if your feed permits, why not give it a go?