hello everyone. it's nova... back from the dead with some amazing tips on how to bookstagram. i'm going to be covering all the basics, information you may have seen on others' bookstagram tips videos and posts. however, i'm going to be doing something i think is interesting. i'm quite literally, going to walk you through the process of how i take a photo that does [and is!] appear on my bookstagram.
*this is kind of a long post - bear with me*
info about my photography before we begin:
- my bookstagram is here.
- i've been doing this since march '15
- yes, i realize i don't have a theme but for me, themes limit me to a certain color scheme or idea so i prefer to be...
- i use a nikon d5500 but only started using that in october so 95% of all my pictures are taken with an awful nexus four and to be honest, i think they turn out alright
- i use photoshop elements thirteen and afterlight to edit my pictures
- to get my pictures from my laptop to my phone [to post] i use dropbox. thanks so much to xan for showing me how to do this! she has a bookstagram "how to" here.
- a book [or however many you want!]
- an idea - optional [this is very important, i will elaborate]
- a camera
- props - optional
- photo editing tools - optional but recommended [this is where you fix weird lighting and add fun filters that separate your pics from others!
- an instagram account!
- a jacket if you're going outside [i wish someone told me about this one because i got stranded in the woods without a jacket sometime in the fall. the things i do for bookstagram, i swear]
- patience [probably the most important thing, not gonna lie]
- a book? well, that's pretty obvious, isn't it? [no one is going to tell you this but be aware: popular books get a lot more attention than unknown ones. for example, i got two hundred likes on a photo of winter by marissa meyer but less than half for a book that people haven't heard as much about. however, that means that you must push those unknown books even more to drive some hype so they become popular!]
- an idea? i find that life is a lot easier when you have a vision of what you want to do. it could be something like "sea of books" or something like "i want the flowers over here, the books there and the sun to be hitting right on that title so it glows." just the idea of trying to roll with a shot without artistic vision makes your life a lot harder. i wouldn't say it's impossible. there have been lots of times where i went into the forest with a bag full of books going, "okay, i'll find my artistic design in there."
- camera? okay, i feel as though, i have to say this: you do not need a fancy schmancy camera to do well on bookstagram. there's this thing where people believe the equipment equals talent and hahah, no. even if i'd gotten a proper dslr this march when i'd started, my photos would still be pretty mediocre. sure a camera that is very high quality helps but it is not, by any means, the only way for people to bookstagram. i used to get by with using flash and my nexus four [which is awful, tbh. i wasn't able to photograph anything inside the house because the flash wouldn't look right. but you know what? I MANAGED.]
- props? what bookstagram picture doesn't have some kind of prop? but don't mistake props as limited to fairy lights or fake flowers. once, i used forks and spoons as a prop, cupcakes, my dad's car, candles and even my sweater. it's all about your vision - see everything goes back to that freaking vision.
- an instagram account? i guess i should be more specific: an account that stands out. something like "novalovesbooks" [which coincidentally, is my email] would never have made it in the bookstagram world. give people a user they're going to remember. that's where "bookstatography" comes in. people immediately know it's about books because it's right there in the title but it's also a made up word which gets people wondering what it means. that also means my user is in their head; they're thinking about it. goal achieved. [bookstatography = bookstagram + photography]
- photo editing tools? you are most likely going to want to edit your photos after taking them. you can do this two ways: photoshop or an app. fortunately for you, i use both.
- patience? by far the most important thing. so many times, i've heard people say that bookstagram is easy and sorry guys, going to have to laugh in your faces here. bookstagram is not easy. i'm about to walk you through the effort it takes to post one picture to instagram. have patience in your ability to make beautiful art but also have patience because you're going to end up quitting before you start if you walk in with the wrong ideas about this.
taking the picture [the process is shockingly long]remember how i talked about having an idea? well, for this shot, i had an idea but no idea how to execute it. what you're about to see may be a little shocking. there is so much work involved with one photo but it's also interesting because viewers don't see this behind the scenes work; they only see the final [which i guess makes bookstagram look like less work than it is.]
vision— i wanted to create a series known as #lushandbookstatography. as part of that series, i wanted to pair my lush lip scrub with a book of the same color scheme. that led me to pick the book, "a court of thorns and roses." so what do i have so far? i'm going to use acotar and it's going to have that lush product. everything else was up in the air and took forever to get right.
so the biggest problem here? the angle. as in, there is none. this angle doesn't compliment the picture or the prop. it makes the entire space look empty.
also, just saying: this shot is taken with a _____$ camera and it still looks like crap so imma say it again, it's about the technique, not necessarily the equipment.
by this point, i've realized that this "white sheet" thing is not working and i do not like it. this trend is on bookstagrams a lot, most/all of which are successful and artsy bookstagrams because it's a very monochrome and modern style which can look amazing or disastrous. it also heavily depends on the person. if you know me, you would know that my hair is a blue turning to purple. someone like me with a feed like this? no way! work with what you want to - don't follow trends. it won't work out for you in the long run.
this is a background that's good because i don't have much going on with the book and the tiny product so the background almost acts like a prop on its own. by this stage, i work on angles, starting with a straight one like this.
now, doesn't the background make all the difference?
because i accidently deleted it, i don't have a landscape version of the final photo before editing. i took one more photo after the one before this and that ended up being my final. so when you see the random square below, that's why. i make all my pictures square because it's easier to upload to instagram [and i take all my pictures with the mindset that they will be squared in the end - but you don't have to do that because of instagram's new landscape/portrait feature!]
sending it to my phone + going to instagram!
when it's on my phone, this is where filters come in. i don't like instagram's filters. i feel like it reduces the quality of the pictures because their filters are so unflattering to the pictures. i don't even know why they offer those filters. sorry for the mini rant, haha.
the free editing app to use is vsco cam but me, i prefer to use afterlight. afterlight on a nexus is pretty terrible [i think there are less options than on apple] but the particular filter i use is on afterlight. unlike some people, i try to use the same filter on all pictures but my filter is weird around pictures that have a lot of orange or beige [not the best filters for selfies, unfortunately] so it's about discretion. basically, use filters wisely to make your pictures go from dull to... not dull. wooow, i am bad with words.
in the end, after i play with filters and do some more adjustments [sometimes, i'll change the brightness, contrast, exposure and temperature because my filter doesn't compliment warm temperatures properly] to compliment the filter, i'll take a look and then post!
side by side:
fun fact: for every bookstagram photo i post, there are thirty similar shots that weren't picked and got deleted. this post is meant to show you the different shots i do to get the best results.
the point i want to get across is that bookstagram takes a lot of effort but it's worth it. and honestly, all of us start out awkward and mediocre and we grow as we continue. this isn't really a post that helps with the whole "how you can bookstagram" because i wanted to be different. i'm hoping something that i do can inspire you if you have no idea what to do yourself.
also take a look at this beauty:
it's all trial and error. be yourself, comment on peoples' pictures and immerse yourself in the community. sooner rather than later [if you're social] you'll have tons of friends! [and for the love of God, do not pressure yourself in following a theme. some people find it easier, some like me, find it more difficult and seeing people say "it's the way to go" makes my eyes roll so far into my head that my vision blurs.] DO WHATEVER MAKES YOU HAPPY. you are an artist;
now go out there and fill that canvas.