Over the years I’ve come across more than a handful of people who wanted to join bookstagram but didn’t. Why? Lack of props. Whenever I hear this reason, I’m sad because this means one less voice in the bookstagram community. The primary topic of conversation is books. Props are just that — props. Sometimes they’re the focus but most of the time they aren’t. This means that ultimately, props are not required.
In fact, I use few props myself and have been at it for nearly three years. That hasn’t stopped me from gaining a modest following, engaging with fellow bibliophiles, and making friends. Once in a while I do buy decoration that can also double up as props for bookstagram photos but only if I really love those items. Another condition is that they must be put on display. If I would more likely store them away, then I’d rather spend my money on books or something else entirely.
Of course, I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy props. If you have the budget, love getting creative with booktography, have fun with that! My point is that, you can go either way, and neither is a better choice than the other. Just don’t feel like acquiring lots of props is a must in order to join bookstagram. With that, here are some tips for book photography with minimal props:
Use What You Own
When taking photos to post on Instagram, there are two approaches: 1) snap photos in the moment, or 2) set up a scene specifically to photograph. If you’re into “real time” photos, include your coffee, your table, your armchair or whatever else you’re surrounded with while reading. Add your scissors when opening parcels, and maybe your blanket if you’re cozying up in bed.
If you’d rather set up your frame, reach for things you own. These could include your headphones, stationery, a vase of flowers and so on. Take note of novelty items you have around the house. Maybe you own a globe, have a cool lamp or a vintage camera. Use these! You don’t have to specially buy props for bookstagram if you don’t want to.
Book Stacks and Shelves
Book stacks and bookshelves are the bread and butter of bookstagram. Share how you organise your books, feature your book hauls and unhauls too. Pull together monthly wrap-ups, get motivated with TBR piles, and give topical book recs (eg. top 5 feminist characters, favourite fantasy books, great sibling relationships, etc). Books stacks are wondrous for book spine poetry and rainbow arrangements as well. With such concentrated focus on the books, few will notice the absence of props.
Get Out of the House
Stepping outdoors opens up a world of possibilities! Take a stack of books out to your garden, the woods, the beach, or a nearby park. Look out for low tree branches, benches, rocks, and so on. These spots are all come free and don’t necessarily require you to add props. You can also take your books to town and look out for nooks and crannies in and around buildings. And next time you’ve settled down to read at a café, don’t forget to capture that!
Backgrounds Add Variety
Backgrounds can make a huge difference if you want to inject variety into your bookstagram photos. A slight change in scenery can make your photo look different without the addition of elaborate props. Should you need inspiration, here are my suggestions of seven types of backgrounds.
Personally, I’ve found Mini Backdrops to be particularly versatile. Just by rotating among some of the designs, the feel of my photos change. Since I take a minimalist approach to bookstagram myself, mixing and matching the few props that I use expands my options as well.
I hope some of these suggestions are useful to you and that you will try them out. If you’ve been on the fence about joining bookstagram, please don’t hesitate anymore! The bookstagram community is made up of some of the loveliest people and we’re always happy to welcome new people into our fold.