How I take and edit my photos
Read on to find out more about the camera and editing and scheduling apps I use for taking, planning, and posting my bookstagram photos.
I’d like to start out by saying that by no means would I consider myself some kind of bookstagram expert. My photos are far from perfect, and there are plenty of accounts out there with ten times as many followers as I have. However, I have maintained my account for over a year now and it is something I greatly enjoy doing, so I thought I’d share a bit of what has and hasn’t worked for me with you guys. Initially, I’d planned for this to be one big blog post, but I quickly realised that I actually have quite a lot of information to share on this topic, so instead, I’ll be creating a series of posts about bookstagramming. I hope you enjoy this first instalment! As always, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or comments.
What is bookstagram?
Okay, so I’m pretty sure y’all don’t actually need me to answer this question. If you’re viewing my blog, it’s probably because you clicked on the link in my Instagram bio and found your way here. However, on the off chance that someone has stumbled across this post and has no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a quick definition. Bookstagram is a sub community of Instagram users who post about our love of books. We take photos of our books, fan girl over bookish merchandise and art; stalk our favourite authors, and much more. It sounds so simple, and maybe even silly, but it’s a fantastic community, and being a part of it has brought me a lot of happiness and introduced me to some amazing new friends.
What I use to take, edit & post photos
I feel like there’s a fair bit of debate on bookstagram about whether it’s necessary to use a high quality camera for photographs, or whether you can just use your phone. I definitely don’t think a DSLR is necessary for bookstagramming; you can totally get away with using a phone camera. However, the camera on my phone (a heavily used, and somewhat abused iPhone 6) is TERRIBLE for indoor photography. It’s fine if you’re outside in the sun, but in my study, where I take most of my photos, everything comes out dark and blurry. Thus, I use this bad boy; a Canon EOS 550D.
I received this camera a few years ago as a graduation gift, but before then; I knew literally nothing about photography. I still only know the bare minimum. But, I have had a read of the instruction manual and with the help of some Googling, I was able to suss out the basics of using a DSLR. One of the most helpful guides to using a DSLR for book photography I came across was this post by Unbound Pages. Rebecca even has a handy cheat-sheet about the best camera settings for bookstagram photos. I downloaded it when I first started my account, and initially, I relied on it quite a lot.
- The first thing I do once I’ve taken my photos is resize them using paint, shrinking them down till they’re around 1080 by 720 pixels. According to the Instagram help centre, “when you share a photo that has a width between 320 and 1080 pixels, we keep that photo at its original resolution as long as the photo’s aspect ratio is between 1.9:1 and 4:5”. As a technophobe who barely scraped a C in high school mathematics, I find this kind of talk quite confusing. But I am willing to take Instagram’s word for it that posting photos around that size optimises quality.
- I then upload the photos I’ve resized to my Dropbox account, and save them to my phone.
- Next, I edit my photos using the VSCO app. To achieve a consistent theme, I use the M5 filter on all my photos. This gives them the brown, autumnal look that I’ve been loving lately. I also turn up the grain, turn down the brightness, fade them, and increase the sharpness slightly. I’m not suggesting these edits would work for everyone, this is simply what I do to achieve my current aesthetic.
If, like me, you’re fussy about what your feed looks like, it can be helpful to use a scheduling app to plan your posts in advance. This can also help you stay organised and post regularly. Honestly, I found it quite difficult to find the right scheduling app for me. There are just so many options out there, which was quite overwhelming. I tried researching different apps, but I didn’t find a lot of helpful information (just a whoooole lot of advertising), so I ended up downloading a few of the most popular apps to try them out. The first app I tried was Later, which I found very easy to use and initially helpful, until I realised that you can only post 30 times per month on the app’s free plan. Personally, I’d say I post about forty times a month, so Later isn’t quite the ideal app for me. If you’re particularly fond of Later, you can upgrade to a Plus plan and post 100 times a month. However, this service costs $9 USD per month, which is a little out of my price range. Especially considering there are a lot of rival apps out there offering similar tools for a lower cost.
After dismissing Later, I recently started using the Preview app and thus far, I haven’t had any problems with it. Unlike Later, there’s no limit to how many times you can post using the app, and you can also do some cool things with hashtags, like saving them to groups and viewing your top performing hashtags.
And that’s about it for now! The next step is simply posting the finished product to Instagram.
As I said earlier, I am planning a few more posts on the topic of bookstagram. Part two of this series will be on how to interact with the bookstagram community! If there’s anything else you’d like me to write about, please do let me know.