If you love to share photographs of your family life on social media, you may have shared photographs of the books your children are reading.
These days you can take brilliant social media photos on your phone, and with huge hashtags like #bookstagram trending on Instagram creativity is encouraged!
So how can you make sure that your book photos stand out from the crowd?
In this special guest post, Clare from Clare Murthy Photography shares five practical tips for taking better book photos with your phone (although they can be applied to all cameras), and walks you through three setups that you can try yourself at home.
Five Tips For Better Book Photos
1. Make sure your photo is in focus
The number one problem I see with photographs on social media, is that they aren’t properly in focus.
There are a few common reasons for this. The most obvious problem is usually that the camera wasn’t properly focussed on the subject when the photo was taken. But, it’s also common to see photographs that were originally sharp appear blurry on social media – usually this is because they were cropped from the original, and the resolution isn’t high enough for it to appear in focus, or the photograph is actually a screenshot of the original.
To make sure your photographs are sharp and in focus you can follow this phone photography tutorial. Also make sure that you always upload, share or print from the original file rather than a screenshot or copy.
2. Exposure / lighting
Good lighting can make or break a photo. Too dark, and you lose lots of detail and will probably end up with a very grainy image. Too light, and you also lose detail. So how can you make sure that your photographs are well-lit?
I recommend taking all of your book photographs during the day. This way you should have plenty of light for a well-exposed shot.
If you’re indoors, take your photograph close to a window, so that you are in the brightest part of the room. If you’re outdoors, aim for light shade – this will give you nice, soft light for your photographs instead of direct sunlight which can be harsh.
3. Consider The Composition
The composition of a photograph, or any work of art for that matter, can change a photograph from ok to brilliant. Composition is essentially how the elements of your photograph are organised. So where you decide to place your subject, and any other components of your image will change how it feels.
There are a few ‘rules’ of composition that you can experiment with to add impact to your images. One that’s quite easy to implement is the ‘rule of thirds’ which you can read about here.
Another way that you can experiment with composition is to embrace negative space – don’t feel that you have to fill your entire photograph with ‘things.’ Leaving some of the space empty can actually create more impact.
Similarly, you don’t have to show everything when you are taking your photograph – zooming in on a certain part of a page or book may be more impactful than showing the whole page as you can see in the two photographs below.
4. Experiment with angles
Shooting from different angles can give your photograph a completely different perspective.
Once you have your scene ready to photograph, challenge yourself to find at least three different angles to photograph it from. Once you’ve finished photographing you can take your time to look through what you’ve captured and decide which angle gives you the best effect.
You can see how I used different angles to capture one scene in different ways in the photographs below.
5. Edit your book photos
Once you’ve taken your photograph, do edit it before you post it to social media.
There are many different apps that you can use to edit photos on your phone – from those that apply filters, to others that offer very comprehensive editing tools. I’ve written about my favourite photo editing apps in this post.
When you first start editing, all of the different functions can feel overwhelming. But actually, simple is usually better.
I suggest treating editing as a bit of an experiment. Start by adjusting the exposure or brightness, contrast and saturation and see what happens. Over time you can try other adjustments, and you will naturally find your own style.
3 Book Photos To Create At Home
Now that we’ve looked at some practical tips for taking your photographs, here are three setups you can try at home.
Create a Book Flat Lay
You can’t scroll through Instagram these days without seeing a flat lay, so why not create one yourself?
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Gather your chosen book, and some items that you associate with that book.
- Choose the backdrop for your photograph. This could be as simple as your table top, wooden floorboards, a blanket, or something more interesting – for example for a ‘Snail and The Whale’ flatlay you could use a map of the world as your backdrop.
- Give yourself time to arrange everything on your backdrop, and to try different things out – arranging a flat lay to your liking will take time, so be prepared to experiment and try different things.
- When you think you’re ready to take your photograph stand directly above the flat lay to take it.
Photograph Your Child As They Read
Photographing your child reading a book sounds simple enough, doesn’t it. But a little planning beforehand can really help to make it your best possible shot.
- If you have young children, get everything ready before you bring them into the photo. They’ll probably only have a short attention span, and so you’ll need to be quick!
- Consider the best location for your photograph. In my house the sofa is out, as it’s in the darkest part of the room, so I would choose to set up a beanbag or blanket close to the window or in the garden for my daughter to sit and read on.
- Make it interesting by adding in props that match the theme of your book. This could be fancy dress, toys that match the theme of the book, or your choice of backdrop.
Photograph your child holding a book
This last idea is nice and quick, and very easy to set up:
- Find a neutral background for your child to stand in front of – a wall usually works well but make sure it is well lit.
- Ask them to hold the book out in front of them, with their arms fully stretched and the book facing you.
- Focus your camera on the book, not your child and take your shot.
- For added interest dress your child up as one of the book characters!
Over to you
I hope that you’ve found these ideas helpful in taking great book photos. I’d love to see what book photos you create – do tag me in your photos over on Instagram. You can find me @claremurthyphotography.
Clare Murthy is a family and baby photographer, based on the Surrey / London border where she lives with her husband and three year old daughter.
Clare helps families document their family story, and as well as photographing babies and families across Surrey and London in her signature natural style, she writes tutorials to help parents take better photographs of their children on her blog.
Find Clare at www.claremurthy.com, or on Facebook and Instagram.