Before starting, I wanted to thank you all for your words on the first part of this guide. It means a lot to me to see that my advice can help some of you or made you want to join this beautiful community.
For this second part, I will focus on editing and planning your theme. I will start with some general advice, then will move on to how I edit my pictures then will talk about mantaining a feed.
Quick reminder that you can do whatever you want with your account. Having a theme isn’t something you have to do – the only thing you should do is be proud of your work and loving what you are posting. Those are only tips and explanation on how I work. I am no professional and I do not know everything.
- Use natural light
That’s the big advice: Use natural light – it will make your pictures way more beautiful, they won’t be blurry and you will edit them quicker. Unless you have a camera and can take beautiful shots in the dark, taking your pictures during day time when the light is great will really help you. This also means that you have to organise yourself to take pictures when the sun comes out (I usually take my pictures on the weekend so I can wait for the perfect moment).
- Do not force colours on your theme
With Autumn coming, that’s a thing I saw a lot on Instagram. Many accounts used orange filters to make their pictures look more autumnal but sometimes it just didn’t work out. Instead of “forcing” your pictures to look a certain way so it can go with your feed, find those colours out there. Add some props, go outside. If you want an autumnal thing for example, take pictures outisde with all the dead leaves or use things that remind people of the season. Use natural colours and your pictures will already look more beautiful.
- No need to have a camera
As I already said, you do not need to have a camera. I have been using my phone since I started and never had problems with it. The quality was good enough and I have been able to edit my pictures for free. A camera won’t necessarily help you make more beautiful pictures.
- Try new things
If you are lacking of inspiration, or even if you are not, try new things. That way you will improve. I used to take only pictures inside, so I went outside. I then only took pictures at the same place in the same way, so I changed once again. Do not be afraid to try new things and experience: new angles, new props, new places etc. That’s how you’ll grow.
- Have your own identity
The best compliment I ever received was when someone told me that a picture reminded them of my work. I love it when you know who took the picture just by looking at it, and that’s what you should keep in mind. Find something that makes you.
HOW I EDIT MY PICTURES
- My photoshoots
I know that it doesn’t go with the editing part but I thought it made sense to explain to you all how I organise myself to make enough pictures while still having my jobs, studies and a social life.
I tend to plan a new outdoors photoshoot every two weeks. I go with my other bookstagram friends because it is always fun. We also use this time to go to exhibitions or discover new places in Paris. I use one day of the weekend for this and I stay home the other day to take pictures in my room as well. I always take a lot of pictures so I can always have some. To this day, I can post without taking new pictures for two months – some of them are very similar so it won’t be interesting but I still do have a lot of pictures.
If I am home early on another day (which barely happens), I try to take new pictures as well. I do not miss a chance when the sun is still out.
It is important to know that I don’t do that on every pictures. I can sometimes play with the lightning or saturation more to make them all look good together – it all depends of the picture. What I will present you today is what I usually do and what usually works.
VSCOcam is a free application available on Apple and Android.
I first upload all my new pictures on the application so I can have them all and start working on them. I open the first one and apply the A6 filter – I used to not use filters for a while but this one doesn’t change much and only gives more contrast to the picture.
I then move to the parameters and goes first on the exposure. It depends on every picture but I change it a bit to make it more clear. I then play with the contrast which I move sometimes a lot. I need the objects to pop out of the screen. I can also crop my pictures if I don’t like the original setting.
Then I work with the colours and start with the saturation. I take it down a lot so it isn’t as colourful as it used to be. My feed is mostly white and I want the background to be as white as possible. I also turn down the temperature a little so it gives it this cold vibe and erase all the yellow/orange parts. I work on the skin tone and turn it down to add just a little bit of colour.
I can then go back to the exposure and contrast to correct it, as I did for this one because I wasn’t happy with how the book looked like.
Most of the time I am done here. However, when pictures are too hard to edit I switch to Snapseed to correct some colours there.
Snapseed is a free application available on Apple and Android.
As I said, I can turn to Snapseed when I need to make the background of my pictures more white.
All I do is edit my picture entirely to make the background looks like I want, even if it touches everything else. Then, I click on the arrow at the top and on “View edits“. From there, I click on “Tune Image” and then on the little square with the brush icon. Now I can only draw on the background to apply the previous editing: this way, only parts I touched will be edited as I did earlier.
I also use Snapseed to add my name on my pictures and blur them to put it on my Instagram story when I tell my followers that I posted.
To add my name, all I do is go to “Tools” then to “Text“. It’s as simple as that.
To make my picture blurry, I click on “Lens blur” in “Tools” again and turn down the “Vignette strength” to 0 before playing with the “Blur strength” until I’m happy with it.
CREATING AND MANTAINING A FEED
- Try and plan it
The most important tip I can give you to make sure your feed won’t become messy is to plan it.
The first thing you need to do is to imagine it. Think of the colours you want your theme to have, the pictures that have inspired you for this. You can make yourself a collage of all those things to have a mood board of how your theme is supposed to look like.
Then, you need to start taking picture. Do not take them all the same day: they will all look alike since they’ll be taken under the same lightning, but you actually have to understand how to create an harmony by yourself. Many people change their feeds after having another photoshoot, but you shouldn’t have to do that. Plan several photoshoots and try to stick to your mood board.
When you have all of your pictures, or at least enough material to start working on them, you have to really plan your feed. I use the app Preview which is free to do so. All you have to do is to upload your pictures on the application and then play with them until you find the perfect combination. That way you will be sure your pictures look great together without being afraid of ruining your feed. I usually schedule every pictures for the week, so I’m sure my theme will stay the same.
- Move and use different props
Many people take their pictures with the same setting and at the same place, and it’s okay. That is something that I used to do as well. However, I realised that most of the biggest bookstagram accounts didn’t work like that.
I know that it’s easier to maintain a feed when all your pictures have the same setting. But trust me, your theme will be more striking if you take your pictures with different angles and in different places. Try flat lays, go outside and take pictures of your book in a tree, put it on your bedside table, take a selfie with it etc. Your feed will instantly become more interesting to look at because everything will be new.
- Do not be afraid to post non-bookish pictures
Ah, here we go. How many times have I seen people being afraid of posting non-bookish pictures and asking for permission? Well let me tell you: It’s your account and you can do whatever you want. Sure, if you are a bookstagram account, you are meant to talk about books but you can also post landscapes, outfits or anything else that makes you happy. Plus, having different kind of pictures will make your feed look way more beautiful and personal! It’ll be all diverse and it will look amazing. So dare present other things to your followers and show them your photography skills! Do not be scared to be yourself on Instagram: We want to know what you like besides of literature!
I hope that those tips will help you!
Again, it is important to know that you can do whatever you want with your account. There’s no better way to run a bookstagram; we all do as we can and all improve through time. As long as YOU are happy with yours and are loving how your account looks like, then it’s perfect! This article is mostly to explain how I work, since many people asked me how I edit my pictures over the months.
Do you like having a feed? Does that make you follow an account quicker than if it didn’t have one? What are some of your favourite themes?