Backgrounds can make or break a photo. When framing photos, it’s easy to get stuck on the items intentionally included — books and other props in the case of bookstagram. Is the book cover visible? Does the mug fit the theme? Which vase to use? These details matter, of course, but the background is what ties everything together. That’s why this edition of Bookstagram 101 rounds up seven backgrounds to add variety to your Instagram feed.
1. Daily Life
Snap photos on the go. Works well if you’re like me and never leave the house without a book. Fuel the literary stereotypes of bibliophiles at cafés. Roads, bus stop, pavements, buildings can be fairly mundane on their own. Add a book though, and you’re opening up your world to fellow book lovers.
Using daily life as your background lends the most authentic voice to bookstagram. You’re sharing things in the moment rather than trying to set up the perfect one.
Important note: Remember to stay safe when posting photos that could help strangers identify your specific location. Unless you’re travelling or take photos in town (provided you’re comfortable with disclosing general locale), avoid including road signs, distinct landmarks, etc. Post these only after you’ve left said places. Although, when it comes to exhibition grounds, author signings, publisher events and the likes, your location is out there.
Most important is to take charge of how much information you share. Know that you could inadvertently be sharing your location on Instagram. To combat that, I outlined some bookstagram safety tips.
Tables, bureaus, shelves, beds and even stools and chairs are readily available backgrounds. Beds especially are popular on bookstagram. Ruffle white bedsheets, prop up a book, maybe add flowers or fairy lights and the iconic bookstagram photo is born. Holding up books and other related items against bookshelves also is a perennial favourite.
Forests, lakes, beaches and mountains add a breath of fresh air to bookstagram. Even if you live in the middle of a city, gardens and parks bring nature to your doorstep. Personally, I’ve a thing for trees and water. Reservoirs and beaches are easily accessible in Singapore, so I love to make use of them.
4. Foam Boards
White backgrounds are so easy to come by with foam boards. Even though I have a white desk, I rarely use it for photography. It’s heavy, so I can’t shift it around according to the light conditions. Foam boards, however, can be taken out onto the balcony on cloudy days when it’s dark indoors. Here’s my tutorial on how to optimise white backgrounds.
Foam boards are available in many colours. If you’d like bright popping backgrounds, these too are your answer. They’re pretty sturdy, so definitely worth the investment.
5. Adhesive Film
You know that adhesive film often used for countertops and wallpapers? Mount them onto foam boards, plywood or other portable bases, to add texture to backgrounds. That’s the secret to the marble backgrounds popular among lifestyle bloggers and Instagrammers. Wood grains are available but they’re best reserved for flat lays. Photos angled from the side tend to show reflections, so it’s obvious they’re vinyl and not real wood.
6. Wood Panels
Wood paneling is so versatile. Combine several panels, align them side by side, then nail or screw them onto two perpendicular panels placed near the edges. Varnish or paint them and voilà! Used as backgrounds, they look like elegant flooring or rustic furniture. Chris from Shared Appetite shared a step-by-step guide.
7. Photography Backdrops
Another option is photography backdrops. These aren’t reserved for pro photographers. The only problem is that the large ones used in studio set-ups are very costly. This is where Mini Backdrops comes in. Most book photography frames don’t require a lot of space. At 60cm x 60cm, the vinyl backdrops are large enough for most occasions. I’m partial towards the wood and stone collections, and you can expect to see more of them from me on Instagram in the coming weeks.
Disclosure: I’m a brand ambassador of Mini Backdrops. The backdrop featured above is partially sponsored.