Four Steps to Capture the Best for Bookstagram


I enjoy capturing moments. Whether it's through writing on my blog or another platform, taking photos, or saving tokens, I love to make memories. My bookish instagram account is one such platform; I share blue-tinted items of my imagination with other bookworms.

Bookstagram is a great community of ideas. Recently, I shared a figment of my imagination that, to my delight, resonated with others: a Shel-Silverstine, Falling Up inspired levitation photo in my bedroom, one of my favorite reading locations. 

After pondering the concept of this post for weeks, the positive response to my behind-the-scenes of this photo (originally posted on Twitter), inspired me to take action. Here's my four-step process to capturing moments for bookstagram, plus a look into my levitation photo!

1. Cook up a [brain]storm

Firstly, and arguably most importantly, is gathering ideas! For photos in particular, this might seem like an especially trivial step, but I find that having a general concept of a picture before snapping a photo yields great results. Don't worry, this doesn't have to be formal! Whatever form of preparation works for you, acknowledging your own ideas and concepts can be beneficial before snapping that picture. 
  • Some days, when I feel like planning in detail, I like to use bullet points on index cards or the 'notes' app on my iPhone to quickly jot ideas. The concept of my Falling Up picture was born in my notes app.
from my notes...
  •  On other days when I don't plan in depth, I like to take at least a moment after selecting the item I want featured to consider possible arrangements and surroundings before snapping the photo.
  • I've found that participating in photo challenges that provide daily prompts can help spark some ideas. This month, I'm participating in #prettybookselvesaugust16, a back-to-school themed challenge, and last month, I took photos for #julywithcj. 

2. Capture some moments

Once you've formulated some ideas, you can start the fun part: snapping photos! Of course, different photos will require different set-ups. 
  • A photo focused on a book modeling (e. g. holding a book, reading a book) might require more time dedicated to figuring out how to feature the books without becoming overwhelmed by weight (books are heavy, okay).
  • A layout photo may require greater focus on finding a clean background and relevant props. For these pictures, I like to alternate between using different sides of a blanket and a piece of white poster board. While many photographers purchase merchandise specific for props, I've found many props in items I just have around my room. I do use fairy lights, though.
  • For the levitation photo, I had to take measures towards my idea. So, I first photographed the background, plain, then took a second photo clutching the star while balancing on a chair. I used a tripod at the same standing for both photos to make the chair easier to erase.

3. Discover the magic in digital editing

The next step is where the magic happens: editing! Experimenting with different edits can shape photo themes. Personally, I like to target brightness, saturation, and exposure to give my photos a touch unique to my account. My already blue room makes highlighting colors seem natural, but I encourage you to play around with different settings and find a theme that works for you.
  • Primarily, I use the iPhone app Afterlight to edit my photos. Although it is currently $0.99, I've found the capabilities of the app to be worth the investment. I actually prefer Afterlight over VSCOCam, another popular app many photographers frequent for filters, and an affordable alternative to Adobe Lightroom. 
  • Unfortunately, I don't have Photoshop, so whenever I look to add special effects to my photos, such as bursts of magic or levitation, I use the iPhone app Superimpose or Microsoft PowerPoint. (Yes, I know PowerPoint sounds crazy, but 2010 enables you to stack .png files and erase backgrounds. It works!)
  • To edit the levitation photo, I first erased the chair using Superimpose, then applied my regular theme edits, including brightness, saturation, and exposure in Afterlight
  • Finally, to add a watermark, I use the iPhone app Phonto. The watermark ensures that my photos are not stolen or re-posted without my awareness.

Some alternative editing programs include the aforementioned VSCOCam and Photoshop, as well as websites PicMonkey, Pixlr, and GIMP, and apps Photo Editor by Aviary and Fotor. Find what works best for you!

4. Upload and enjoy

Finally, upload your photos to your favorite platform! I love the feelings of simultaneous nervousness and excitement I experience before presenting a product I've invested myself in. I can say with confidence that my pictures represent some of these products. As I've mentioned previously, these photos can also double as project backgrounds, headers, and more!

Use these steps to capture your best moments! How do you like to edit your pictures?


  1. Some awesome tips! I definitely want to float...or something. Maybe even fly.. OOH

  2. Awww definitely love your flying-while-reading picture! And it surprises me that you didn't use Photoshop for that. Haha. I love to use VSCOcam for photo editing :)

  3. Oh man, I'm definitely envious of your photos. I don't think I have the patience to do so much for bookstagram xD BUT GIRL, KEEP DOING THIS because I will keep appreciating how gorgeous it all is :)

    Molly @ Molly's Book Nook

  4. What a great post! I hadn't heard of AfterLight. Something I might have to look into. Granted, your photos are far more involved with mine, so mine don't require such extensive editing!! :D Thanks so much for sharing all of this.

  5. good tips, does spice up the boring book cover only scene

  6. You are an inspiration! I love taking photos for Bookstagram and I definitely needed these tips... I'll look into those apps... and I didn't even know about water marking!

    Emily @ Reader Rising

  7. This is amazing! Thank you for sharing your steps! I find it hard to found the right combination of brightness and exposure while editing... I'll definitely check out the apps :)

  8. This is so great, thank you! I don't have Photoshop either (really should invest in it one of these days) so I love that you can still make awesome photos like these.

  9. Thanks for all of the great tips! That floating picture is great, haha.