Blog · Bookstagram 101

bookstagram: part 4 – tips on taking pictures


Welcome back to my Bookstagram series! In this part, I will talk about the picture taking and editing process as well as all the tips and tricks I have for this category. Unfortunately, this will not be an editing tutorial because I edit every photo differently; however, I will provide you with the basic outline of what I usually do when I take a photo.

This is probably the most difficult post I’ve had to write throughout this whole series. This is because, I really don’t know what to say/or how to explain how to edit and take photos. Photography is one of those things that is very subjective. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Therefore, I can only do my best to explain to you what I do, but I cannot tell you this is the right or wrong way to take photos. Everyone has a different photography style, so please keep that in mind.

Starting off, the most common question I get is…

What camera do you use?

Although it might not be too obvious, I have changed cameras a few times on my Instagram. I honestly just used what I had, and I suggest you do the same.

However, for the majority of my photos from the beginning of my Bookstagram (April 2015-November 2015), I was using my Samsung NX1000. This is a mirrorless digital camera. I first bought this camera when it first came out, I loved it so much! It is very light and compact. It definitely did the job for me.

But, since I used it for around 4-5 years, the button started wearing down and the camera was getting really slow. Therefore, I saved up and purchased a new camera for the holidays.

So, ever since December 2015, I’ve been using the Canon 70d. With this DSLR, I’ve been using the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.8-5.6 III lens + the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens.

Recently, I’ve been also using my iPhone 6s camera occasionally when I’m on the go because nobody wants to lug a DSLR around all the time.

Photo Comparison


Please note, these are not the actual full size and quality photos. I took these off my Instagram so they are fairly compressed and not at full quality.

What do you use to edit your photos?

I use Photoshop CC to edit all my photos as well as adding a watermark (I can do a separate tutorial on how to watermark on a computer later. However, I learned from Google so that is a great source. Many phone apps allow you to watermark your photos as well.) You can purchase a subscription for Photoshop on the Adobe website. My subscription is $10 USD monthly for both Photoshop + Lightroom. I own an online shop so having both of these tools are essential to me. However, there are many free alternative programs such as Gimp… etc.

On Photoshop, I mainly mess with Levels, Curves, Hue/Saturation, + Color Balance. This mainly depends on how good lighting and composure of the photo was. I always use natural lighting because I find that it is the easiest for me to work with (when editing). This is definitely difficult, especially during the winter because the sun sets by 4pm ish. However, I feel like the results are very rewarding and worth the tricky lighting.

After I edit, I upload the photos to my VSCO library. I do this on the computer by using the browser uploader VSCO provides. You will need a VSCO account to do this. I used to email myself photos to get them on my phone so this is much easier for me. This is what the web looks like:

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 9.38.18 PM.png

Once uploaded, you can access all of the photos via the vscocam app on your phone in the “synced” section of your library.

On vscocam, I usually add more exposure (because I love bright photos), saturation, sharpen, contrast, + a filter. Some filters I like are A6, C series, F series, G3, HB1/2, M series, + S series. I did buy the filter pack because I got an iTunes gift card. However, it is not necessary to buy more filters. The basic filters it comes with are really nice as well.

And that’s pretty much it…

I honestly went through a lot of trial and error, if you go through my feed, you will see me change my photography “style” many times. This is normal, and you might go through it too! That’s perfectly fine. With time, we will find what we like or don’t like.

Additional Book Photography Tips

  1. You don’t need expensive equipment or have to spend money on equipment for Bookstagram. Any camera/phone camera and good lighting are all you need to take photos.
  2. Take lots of shots! Every time I take a photo, I take at least 3-5 shots of the same “set”. There will be blurry pictures or not quite the right angles. It sucks when you check back later and realize you didn’t get the shot you wanted.
  3. Don’t be afraid to use props. Make yourself a mess. Color coordinate props, theme your props with your photos. Honestly, props can be anything you having lying around the house. Some examples are: mugs, fake flowers/plants, stationery (pens, papers, stamps, letters), knick knacks (clocks, keys, spoons, figurines), stuff animals (tsum tsums), clothing (sweaters, blouses), accessories (jewelry, nail polish, makeup), etc. The possibilities are endless!
    Don’t sweat too much if you don’t have a lot of props. When I first started using props, I went a little too crazy with buying random stuff to include in my photos. Now I have a lot of junk I don’t know what to do with anymore. If you do want to buy props, craft stores (Joann’s, Michaels, Hobby Lobby etc.) or stores like TJ Maxx, Ross, etc. are your best friends. Craft stores always have sales after holidays are over, that’s your chance! Don’t forget to look up coupons.
  4. To get inspired, you can always use Tumblr or Pinterest for themes or ideas. However, I find that a good way to start is to have the book inspire me. I think one of the best examples with I can provide you is this one:
  5. Have fun with it! Book photography is about expressing yourself and expressing your love for books.

Now what are you waiting for? Grab that phone or camera and snap some photos!! If you have additional questions about book photography, please leave them below and I’ll add in a supplement section for this blog post 🙂



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