Monday, March 20, 2017

Navigating Bookstagram - Stories & Tips From a Small(er?) Account - Pictures (Part 2)



Hi everyone! Sorry about the lack of posts. I'm trying to get back on top of our bookstagram and our blog, so just hang tight!

Speaking of our bookstagram (and also our blog, actually), what seems like forever ago back in December I had promised to make a part 2 for "Navigating Bookstagram - Stories & Tips From a Small(er?) Account - Pictures (Part 1)", since I had too much to say for just one post. Unfortunately, that never happened. But, don't fret, because here it is, only a few months late! (Heh heh...)

So, what do I plan to cover in this post? Well, I plan on talking about the following subjects (click the links to jump to that section):



Props

First up is props! Props are helpful, especially with indoor pictures or maybe winter ones as they make everything a bit more exciting. Props are used for the more extravagant styles. In other words, if you're going for a more simple theme, props might not be the thing for you. Sure, they can be used, but there's usually a more specific type of prop that's used in this case. (I briefly talked about styles in part 1.)

Props in pictures can pretty much be anything, from food to book merch to jewelry, as long as you know how to use it correctly. Here's some more info on some types of props:
  • Book Merch - One of the most common props seen on bookstagram. Includes anything from candles to bookmarks, clothing and jewelry, mugs and buttons. More information on some below.
  • Candles - For some reason, bookstagrammers love candles. (I'm sorry if this offends you.) While we've never used candles in any of our pictures, I have seen them used quite a bit.
    • Outdoor: Can be stacked on top of books or placed besides them.
    • Indoor: Same thing as outdoor pictures, but if you're doing flatlays, sometimes colorful or lit candles are used or they are placed on their sides so that the candle front can be viewed.
  • Bookmarks - Wow. Bookmarks in...book pictures. Surprise. (Excuse my sarcasm.) So these guys can pretty much be used anywhere, heck, pictures of just bookmarks are popular on bookstagram. They fit nicely into flatlays, look fine in open books, or even in your hand. If you use several in one shot, it always looks nice to fan them out.
  • Jewelry - While this can be something bookish, it doesn't have to be! I most often see necklaces on bookstagram, but bracelets and pendants or whatever other jewelry exists (not exactly my area of expertise) works, too. They might be dangling from a branch in front of a book, if you're an outdoor bookstagrammer, or maybe spread out across a page if you're an indoor one.
  • Mugs - Mugs are usually filled with tea or coffee, sometimes hot chocolate, but they don't have to be. They can be on top of stacks of books, placed gently in the background, or in your hand. They work well for indoor and outdoor pictures, although incorporating them into flatlays is a bit more difficult.
  • Food - Hey, us bookstagrammer get hungry too! (Sorry, that was kind of...cheesy, sort of. Yeah, I know. Oh, wait - cheese is a food, and....This isn't going anywhere good.) When picking food to put in pictures, make sure the food looks good, okay? Not that murky green pea soup is necessarily bad-looking, I just wouldn't recommend using it in pictures. Some ideas are fruit, nuts, pastries and other sweets. 
  • Notebooks - There are a lot of beautiful notebooks out there - inside and out - that look lovely in pictures. What I most often see is pictures with notebooks with nice covers or ones that have writing in them, sometimes book related, such as a book review or some quotes.
    • Outdoor: Next to books, fanned out; spines of notebooks; open with a book in it, or reversed (an open book with the notebook in it)
    • Indoor: Pretty much the same as outdoor pictures, but if you're doing flatlay pictures, they are also helpful as filler space.
  • Fairy Lights - Fairy lights are very common among bookstagrammers, whether they're soft or bright or multicolored, bookstagrammer absolutely love them. They can be used as background for pictures, or wrapped around the book(s) or even your hand!
  • Leaves & Flowers - We have used leaves and flowers in a lot of our pictures. They're great for outdoor pictures, but I have seen them used in indoor ones too.
  • Random Odds & Ends - Practically anything can make a good picture, and a lot of everyday objects are used in flatlays. Here are some examples below:
    • Pens, pencils, and other writing utensils: These look nice in flatlay pictures, or sometimes lying across an open page.
    • Decorative Tape: Sometimes used in flatlays.

I apologize if all of this wasn't too helpful, but a lot of this is found out through trial and error. Even some props that works for some don't work for others, and it's all a matter of your own personal preference and skill.

Editing

Editing! I know that some people don't believe in editing pictures, but it's just a part of photography and something that you have to do if you want to get big on bookstagram. First, let's start off with some do's and don'ts, okay?

Do:

  • Play around with filters! The more you explore, the more you'll know! Mix and match them to create the blend that's right for you.
  • Try different styles. (I'll get into that in a bit.)
  • Play with shadows and highlights.
Don't:
  • Overedit pictures. Going overboard with saturation or filters can make a picture look unnatural and over edited. While it is usually noticeable if pictures are edited, there's a certain limit to how far you can go and still have the picture look good.
  • Shy away from the tools. Don't let my advice from above prevent you from doing everything you want to do.
  • Get into the mindset that you need fancy editing software to make your pictures look wonderful. You do not need expensive editing software. Similar to what they always say with photographers and cameras, it's the editor, not the app.
Now let's explain some basic tools that will come in handy on your editing adventures:
  • Brightness: This tool will help you to achieve that brighter look that seems to be more popular these days. Unless, of course, you go in the other sorta popular direction, which is a darker more mysterious theme.
  • Exposure: Exposure and brightness are very similar, and are often confused with one another. However, are they different? Yes, they are! Take a look at the pictures below. What do you notice? The one in which the brightness was changed, the whole photo appeared to become more (I guess) bright and full of light, while the other had a sort of faded look to it. (The latter is more "exposed".)


  • Saturation: By turning up the saturation, you can make your photo very vibrant and colorful, and by turning it down, you can make colors more dull.


  • Shadows & Highlights: Shadows and highlights can be helpful in creating a sort of feeling to your picture. Adding more shadows helps with a darker, more mysterious look, and adding more highlights can make it nice and cheerful without making the whole picture too bright (possibilities from adjusting brightness). I would be careful if you tried to take away shadows and/or highlights, however. At times, this can create a sort of faded look that doesn't look natural. (Unless, of course, you are going for a faded theme. I see this a lot with indoor pictures; for outdoor pictures, faded isn't always the best.)


  • Fade: Ah, the fade that I was talking about earlier! Increasing the fade effect on a picture will make it look less clear, almost as if you're looking at it through a gray-ish window. Be careful in how much you use this, as too much of anything is never good.


  • Temperature: When you select the temperature option on editing apps, you can usually slide left and right to make it warmer or cooler. Some might even have it labeled to help you out. If it's not, here you go: To the left (usually the negative numbers in other editing applications) is where you can make it cooler, and sliding it to the right will make it warmer. These might be wanted to create certain feelings towards your pictures, or maybe for seasonal themes as well.
  • Sharpen: Using this tool will allow you to make your pictures look sharper, which is wonderful if it gets a bit blurry. (Still be careful with this tool! This is an easy one to mess up.) However, if it's not that bad, I would suggest that you use more of the clarify option offered by some editing programs. 



I'm not sure how helpful this was for you, as I am still exploring many editing techniques myself, but as I have repeated multiple times, it is all about trial and error, experimenting with a variety of styles until you find one that fits you. 

Best of luck, J.

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