Sep 15, 2016

Editing for Bookstagram: A Ritual

Hiiiiiiiii! In case you didn't know, there's this great big thing over on Instagram called #bookstagram. (Think #catsofinstagram or #foodgram, but with books!) I looove bookstagram and the outlet it is for books, making friends, and fueling creativity. This is mine:

The thing about bookstagram is that every account is different. A lot of bookstagrammers have feeds that are themed, whether that means the photos are bright or darker, have a white background or a constant and consistent background, the same filter is used every time, and so on. Some accounts are sporadic and eclectic, which I also love--and that's what my account used to be. My pictures were based on a few things: my mood; what kind of photo I could accomplish given the time of day, what I had on hand, how busy I was, etc.; the book itself and whether the photo was based around the book; lighting. (More on that in a bit.) And I liked doing that because I get bored and my photos are based on so many factors, and sometimes I love to get so creative that I make a mess.

Then I moved. And I did a photo or two outside--I'm surrounded by trees and natureish bits--and I really like how those photos turned out. Even more so, I liked the look of a few outdoor photos in a row on my profile, and then I didn't want to break that--so now all my photos are outside. (Which is just great because I live in Washington and fall is approaching, and rain + books = ABORT MISSION.) And now my feed has a theme, and I love it--there's something very appealing to the eye when a feed is so cohesive. (But I've been getting bored and missing the creativity but that's for another post.)

Today I'm going to show you how I EDIT my photos--because maybe people are wondering (I wonder how others edit theirs!), and maybe it shows how the little things can make a feed cohesive? Before I show you a video (ooooooh!), here are a few facts about my photos:
  • Lighting. Is. Everything. I tend to like my photos darker, so I have to watch for placement when taking photos, because if there's too much sun my usual editing process isn't going to work. But if there's not enough sun--basically, if it's too dark--the quality of the photo is going to be bad. I have taken some photos later in the day when the sun is still up and it's a bit shady, but I have to watch what I'm doing. My favorite lighting is when it's overcast--I loved the mood it creates in my photos. But NO RAIN.
  • I take all my photos on my iPhone 6s.
  • I'll occasionally use an app for a blur effect (Blur Editor)--and I did use Pixlr to brighten backgrounds when I used a white one--but otherwise every single one of my edits is done with what Instagram offers.
  • I like to use something in my photo, aside from the book/focal point, that's purposely out of focus so that it puts more focus on the focal point.
  • My editing process is basically like so:
    • Take 5,000,001 photos
    • Find one that looks good (and you'll see in the video that I edit more than one photo to see which I like best and compare screenshots, then I'll re-edit the winner because screenshots take away photo quality)
    • Filter: Stinson
    • Take brightness and shadows to -100, vignette to 100
    • Highlights 100, see if lux benefits/hinders photo
    • Go through other editing options (possibly altering vignette, brightness, and shadows--especially the former and latter if there's more sun in the photo)
      • Adjust: Fix angles, centering, and balance of photo
      • Contrast: Don't touch much these days, except maybe a touch of or a touch less
      • Structure: I very rarely use this because I feel like it takes away the quality of a photo
      • Warmth: This depends on the photo--and my lighting for the day--and I tend to take the warmth down because I like darker photos, and sometimes too much warmth gives the photo too orangey/old of a feel
      • Saturation: Lately I up this since most of my other edits are so dark--this adds color and some light
      • Color: I don't use this
      • Fade: Unless it makes the photo look too old or adds a weird tint, I tend to use at least a bit of this
      • Tilt Shift: I use this to put focus on the focal point of my photo--or cover up whatever already is blurry if it looks funky
      • Sharpen: I'll use this a bit if a book could use more focus, but I don't a lot of this because it takes away quality (photos look fuzzy for me!) and I like soft edges on my pictures
Here's a video (which I should have angled better I'M SORRY) showing my crazy editing ritual.

I think that's it? As you can (maybe) see, I'm picky with numbers and I'll go back and forth between photos and certain aspects of editing. (Now that I have a theme of sorts I'm quicker with edits because what I do stays rather consistent between photos, but I could--and can--spend half an hour decided whether or not I want tilt shift or some other editing option.) It can be stressful, but it's also fun!

Do you bookstagram? If so, what's your editing process? Or do you just rely on a super nice camera to do all the fancy work for you (I wish I had one of those)?


  1. Thank you for sharing your process! I don't really consider myself a bookstagrammer since my pictures are basically just of books and my cats, sometimes the two together haha. I'm always impressed by people's dedication and your feed looks beautiful!

  2. I love your outdoor pics. I liked seeing something different when I'm on instagram bc so many pictures in my feed can all look the same. It's also cool that you go darker bc I feel like not that many people are. I also use my phone and instagram to take and edit all my pics. I don't have the will to do anything more in-depth than that. I want to take pictures and have fun with it. I'm super hard on myself, so if I start getting too nit-picky with my photos I have to back off for my own sanity! It's really cool that you shared your process :)

  3. Since I just started a Bookstagram account I loved reading about your process! I have no theme and so far I like it that way. I am still new at really taking photos in general. I will get there. I am loving your outdoor pics!

  4. I have to be honest, I really really love your feed! Those outdoor pictures are so beautiful and I once thought you used a DSLR for your pictures. Haha. Thankiu for sharing your editing tips, love! And oh, I adore your new hair color <3

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  15. Editing for Bookstagram is an important ritual. It helps to bring out the beauty of a book and amplifies its message through visuals. The editing techniques used by bookstagrammers are incredible and truly inspiring. Thanks for sharing this useful article that can help us all improve our content!

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