Bringing Your Photos to Life!
Discuss how you bring life to your (book) photos for blog posts or Instagram! You can talk about your focus on composition, how you edit, or stay inspired, etc. Hosted by Lauren @ Northern Plunder
Hello Readers! I am by no means a pro at Bookstagram or photography, but I have been a bookstagrammer longer than I’ve been a blogger. While there are others out there doing a much better job, I thought maybe someone who’s just starting out or trying to work up the courage to try Instagram might get something out of my tips. Or if you’re one of those pros, you might have tips for me. 😉
Technically, I did spend some time as a photographer’s assistant. My husband did photography full-time several years ago. We used to shoot weddings. We were the couple dressed in black following the bride and groom around. While I didn’t know how to set up a DSLR–or professional–camera, he would set mine up and send me off with the bride while she was getting ready. It’s something I actually enjoyed–getting to be a fly on the wall behind the scenes. Sometimes I miss it. Although, he doesn’t. Ha! But he did teach me a lot about composition and lighting, which I’ve tried to carry over to my book pictures.
Your phone camera is fine!
I don’t use a fancy camera for my pictures–just my iPhone. There have been a few occasions when my husband has taken some pictures for me with his camera, but not recently. He is always encouraging me to use it. Maybe someday…
Lighting is key and plan ahead!
For me, the most important thing about taking Instagram or blog pictures is lighting. I always try to work with natural light, which means turning off the lights inside and opening the blinds. Even if it’s cloudy, it’s still better than indoor lighting, in my opinion. When I do have a nice sunny day, I usually try to take multiple pictures. If I’m participating in a Bookstagram challenge or I have a blog coming up, I’ll look ahead and see what pictures I’ll need.
The rule of thirds!
My husband taught me the rule of thirds. Basically just think of your photo divided into three sections. And while I don’t always consciously plan that out, I always try to keep it in mind. It eventually just becomes a habit. The rule of thirds is much easier to achieve now with the basic grid option included on our phones. And it’s okay if you have to fix the rule of thirds by cropping when you edit, too. Here’s a great explanation for beginners:
Rule of Thirds
Location, location, location!
I take the bulk of my photos in my dining room or bedroom, which both have great lighting. Pick a sunny room! Sometimes I will simply lay out my books on the floor. (My new hardwood floors make a perfect backdrop. Don’t think I didn’t pick flooring by test shots with my books, because I did! ;))
A rug tossed on the floor works fine, too!
My dining table also makes a great location! And I always make sure to take lots of book photos when I have pretty plants or flowers. Or a simple cup of coffee works nicely, as well.
I have a white bookshelf near windows that I keep an empty spot open just for pictures, too.
Some of my favorite locations are outside, especially on vacation. When I pack, I think about what books will work great with the setting I’ll be visiting. Or I’ll just buy books while I’m there. 😉
Level it up!
One of my own personal pet peeves is making sure a picture is level. Kind of like how incorrect grammar makes some people’s blood boil? If a picture is crooked, it’s all I see. What frustrates me is that it’s so easy to fix. Most photo editing programs have a straightening option. Aren’t sure whether to line it up vertically or horizontally? Typically, one will follow the other, but my husband always told me to straighten vertically first. Of course, sometimes you just have to go with what looks right, too. 😉
Here’s a nice example of where I tried to make the crease in the book vertically straight, but also make the horizon horizontally straight. A level horizon is the most important part in this picture. This photo is also a great example of the rule of thirds. It’s important to try to never put the horizon line in the center of the picture. Place it either closer to the top or bottom.
Sometimes, I do intentionally make the object of my picture crooked, and that’s okay, too! (A book cart also makes a perfect location for pictures. And it’s moveable!)
Now that you have the right lighting, a great location, and your picture is leveled up, I’ll tell you how I edit my pictures. There are a ton of great editing apps, but these are the ones I know and love. I would encourage you to try various ones out. Don’t be afraid to play around with them. Look up how-to videos on YouTube. Ask a friend. Whatever works for you!
I use an app called Priime to edit my pictures. It gives you the ability to ‘favorite’ filters and manually edit them if you want to tweak them, which makes it easy to edit quickly. I use an app called Over when I want to add words to my pictures.
Here’s a good example of a before and after editing. The picture on the left is unedited. I cropped, straightened, and added a filter to make it brighter and the colors pop!
Have fun with taking pictures! Experiment with locations, layouts, backgrounds. I delete more photos than I keep. Sometimes what doesn’t look good to the naked eye, looks great in camera or vice versa. So it’s important to not limit yourself. Be creative. For me, Bookstagram is not about how many likes I get on a photo. If I take a photo and it makes me happy, then it was worth it!
If you’re taking pictures for Instagram, find some accounts you admire to follow and get inspiration from. Just make sure you give them credit, if you copy something more literally. Monthly challenges hosted by more popular Bookstagrammers are a great way to practice and be inspired.
Make it live!
Now your picture is ready to go live! Post it, share it, send it to all your friends and family! <3