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.
I love your Bookstagram series! It’s been really helpful!
Esther recently posted Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Dana @ The Unprinted Protagonist says
My family moved around quite a few times while I was in high school, so I was forced to keep my bedroom fairly minimalist. That became even more important when I went to LA to start at my new university. I actually don’t even own a lot of physical books for that reason. When picking concepts for book photos, I usually try to think of objects that relate to something in the book or the caption I’m planning to write. I like using clothing items a lot because they add texture. Handwritten notes can also add a touch of personality.
I actually haven’t posted anything on Instagram or my blog since starting at my new school! I’ve been missing it more and more lately, but it has been impossible to find free time.
Dana @ The Unprinted Protagonist recently posted I moved 2,500 miles away from home for college!
Reg @ She Latitude says
Love this, Joséphine! I really admire your Bookstagram style, so any insight into your process is always very interesting to me. I’m not a big Bookstagrammer – I wouldn’t really consider myself one at all, actually, despite having an account (however paradoxical that sounds) – and I barely use any props at all, but I always really struggle with making my photos look different from one another. It’s not really an issue because… uh, I guess I don’t care that much, but I’d love to be more creative with photo-taking in general. :P
I’ll have to check out Mini Backdrops, so thanks for that!
Reg @ She Latitude recently posted Book Looks: Queens of Geek – Jen Wilde
I love your account and I always admire Bookstagrammers that can use little to no props. I feel like I lose inspiration if I don’t have or change up my props a lot. I do need to change up my background, I think. That would be a nice refreshing change!
Hana Bilqisthi says
Thank you so much for the reminder :D I am buying lot props lately since joining bookstagram community but you are rigt at the beginning I started with my own personal belonging.. I think I will try to stop buying props :D
Hana Bilqisthi recently posted Golden by Jessi Kirby
I really like the idea of props, and some of my favourite bookstagrammers use them often. But I also find that the props that are used tend to be similar across different accounts, which makes them harder to distinguish from one another. I like your idea of changing up the background by getting outside – you could take 100s of photos in your backyard and have them all look a little different just because of the slight differences in background as you move around.
Bec @ Readers in Wonderland says
Props are something I’ve just started to use and I personally really like using them! They add a bit to my photos and also help make them look consistent because I use similar props in every photo. Saying that, I haven’t bought any of the props (though I do want to get more), they’re all candles, decorations, and other things I borrow from my sister haha. Books spines are the other props I’ve just started to use in the last week or so.