Props for Bookstagram: Do You Need Them?

Hello everyone! I hope I find you all positively splendid. I myself am mostly okay but slightly traumatised from having to get rid of multiple spiders today. Don’t you just love Australia in the sprintime? *shudders*. TODAY we shall be doing the exciting task of examining the crucial aspects of BOOKSTAGRAM PROPS and whether they are an important contribution to our photographical masterpieces or not. Moreover, I thought I’d discuss what to do about props when you’re just starting out and I might even find myself kind enough to share suggestions of what you can do before you have any props

Inkheart

Before we go any further, however, let’s just start this off by saying: these are my own opinions based off my own experiences. I like using props so this is a guide of how to get on your feet in the bookstagram world before you commit to buying any knick knacks. The bottom line, at the end of the day, is you definitely do not need anything more than a book and a camera to make amazing pictures.


What Are Props

Simply put, props are anything you use in your pictures to add to them – using flowers, Funko Pops, coins, dice – anything. It’s when people take a step further than just taking a photo of the book against a background and actually create a set up for the photoshoot. Props can be anything: they can be something you already own but more times than not, bookstagrammers end up spending small amounts of money on buying craft items to add to their photos.

Azriel Candle 1


What I Use and Why I Use Them

When I first plunged into the world of Bookstagram I was understandably slightly intimidated by the enormous amount of effort people seem to put into these photos. I thought they were brilliant – godly! How could I ever aspire to be on the same level of them? But the important thing to remember at this phase in your photo-creating hobby is to have fun. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. Whilst it is sometimes frustrating to not receive the recognition you think your photos deserve, as long as you had fun creating the image and putting everything together, who cares? This is my favourite and most important thing about bookstagram: it’s fun.

So, after my initial shock, I plodded on creating interesting photos that were sometimes good and sometimes ouch on the eyes. My interest in seeing what I could create and the fun I had doing it have been a domino effect – of the good kind – that have led me to the photos I create now, which I absolutely love making. But to start with, the questions of what background to use, what items to include in the photo, what lighting to use and simply what book to pick were baffling. My photos, for a while, looked a little like this:

There were basic but not horrendous. I took them on my iPhone so the quality is fairly standard. Yet I felt like there was something missing and something more I could do. But before I go any further again let’s just pop in to interrupt myself and say if you’d like to know how I take photos then please, have a watch of the HOW TO video I made over on my YouTube channel (yes I have one of those if you didn’t know) and from that you’ll learn things such as what camera I use now and editing techniques.

But I digress. I’ve always been someone who admires CHAOTIC photos – ones filled to the brim with colour and STUFF. Any of Cait @ Paper Fury’s images will suffice and are perfect example of what I can only hope to create. The big factor that I realised I appeared to be missing, was props. But props cost money – the good ones, right? Not everyone has stuff just lying around. This meant I went through an experimental phase of using what I did have. This resulted in pictures like:

I liked the photos I was taking at this point and whilst I’d been on Instagram for a while, I was adamant that I was not going to spend money unnecessarily on “props”. If you’ve seen my Instagram page lately (CHECK IT OUT) then you might have noticed this was an utter lie I told myself and I have since developed quite the tendency to buy all sorts of random things to scatter in my pictures. Do I own 100 miniature dice? Why, yes I do.

L1050273

Through my time within this community and through experimenting with the types of pictures I personally really enjoy creating, I’ve discovered what it is I love to use. I have my dad’s fancy-pants camera (it’s a Leica, I have no idea what type #professional) and I use a serving tray as my back drop. I’m lucky in that my mum likes to decorate the house with vases of fake flowers (because they last forever, the real stuff is HARD. WORK.) so I can use those as props. I love flowers in pictures. It’s my weakness. I’m also very attached to my miniature dice. Thus, my pictures now look something like this:

I really enjoy making my pictures bright and colourful and filled with STUFF. I use anything (usually in miniature form) from small shells, mini dice, mini paper butterflies to charms, coins and fake flowers. Even now, I still play with what I do – it’s always good to be inquisitive and never just settle (although that being said who cares whether you settle or not – it’s about the FUN remember). My favourite thing about props is that it gives me an excuse to go craft shopping. I love crafts, but lord knows until recently I’ve never known what I would do with small bows that are just so adorable. Just the other day I saw a pack of assorted buttons and went OH YES PLEASE. And now you’ll probably be seeing a lot more photos with fewer dice (although I’d never give them up) and more buttons, like so:

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that Bookstagram is a journey of discovery. Whether or not YOU want to use props is a personal decision. But I hope that by showing you how far I’ve come, you’ll be encouraged to keep at it, to have fun and to not let the amazing-ness of other people’s photo ever deter you. Screw the statistics, it’s about loving what you’re doing.


Where To Find Props & How To Use Them

Props should never be expensive, really. I’ve stolen items no longer wanted from family members or have gone on a shopping spree in a $1 shop. Heck, I’ve even collected shells off the beach (I always like to tell the tale of one particularly beautiful shell I have that I collected on Inch Strand in Southern Ireland. How’s that for commitment). But yes, craft shops are always amazing for gathering random things – my advice is simply to do it slowly and to keep an eye out.

Bookstagram
my drawer of goodies

I’ve collected all the worldly props I have over the course of two years. I didn’t rush into things because who knows? Maybe you’ll decide bookstagram isn’t for you after a couple of months. I like to prove to myself that it’s worth investing money into something after I shown that it’s something I’m going to do for the long run. But again, that’s just me. So when you’re out shopping poke your nose into those thrift shops or the random isles of Target and Kmart and see what you can find.

When it comes to how to use props my advice, a technique I’ve found to work in my favour is don’t try too hard to arrange them. I’m a big fan of sploshing things down on my tray and going YEP, that’ll do. That previous picture, a couple up, with The Red Ribbon and the buttons scattered? I nearly dropped the jar of buttons and they fell like that. I just rolled with it. But if you’re unsure, take a few pictures with the props arranged differently. Once you’ve uploaded them onto the computer for final revisions it’s a lot easier to make the decision then as to which arrangement you prefer.


What To Do Before You’ve Acquired Any Props

And thus we come to the clincher of our discussion today. What do you do now? You’ve started your account, you want to use props, but you don’t want to spend money. Well, my friend, as I have possibly mentioned already: use whatever you like. However! For the sake of you not stressing, here is a list of common objects you might find around your house that you can use in the meantime whilst you start collecting some props:

Mugs

Funko Pops

Fake flowers

Flowers in the garden (but don’t pull them up, for goodness sakes!)

Pencils/pens/textas

Clothing (SCARVES ARE GREAT)

Ribbons

Hair accessories

Jewellery

Photo frames

Other books

Headphones

Phone cases

Any stationary

Old cards

Shelf sitters (I have heap of vegetable shelf sitters, but hey, I don’t know your life)

Linen

Puzzle pieces

Jenga!

Money (coins in particular)

Artwork

Cutlery

Figurines

Chess pieces

Candles

Food

Game board Pieces

So you see? You really can use anything. Lots of people use paper with different prints on it for backgrounds if you don’t have a suitable surface or a random serving tray of the right size like myself. I hope you found this post helpful guys and PLEASE ask away down below if you do happen to have any questions. I promise I won’t pelt you with my beloved mini dice.


Happy Reading

~~ Kirstie ~~

Instagram

14 thoughts on “Props for Bookstagram: Do You Need Them?

  1. Definitely! For now I don’t use props or even have a good set up for bookstagram. I consider myself more of a nature photographer. I hope to find time to get a cart for props and indoor lighting so I can give it a go. So, I appreciate the tips!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been wanting to get into Bookstagram as in purchasing a lot of books now, but I’ve always been SO intimidated looking at all the fancy pictures people take. Thanks for this introduction and the advice to just have fun. It’s really helped. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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