I have taken a lot of photos of books over the last few years. Some of them bad, some of them good, and some that I’m actually really proud of.
I love books (surprise, surprise). And I love photography. So a combination of them is a match made in heaven for me. My booktography style has evolved over the years, mostly through trial and error and chance. I’m sure it will continue to shift and change in the years to come, but there are things I’m consistently drawn to when I take photos and I thought it might be interesting to share them.
My favourite thing to utilise is light and shadow. I don’t think you can beat natural light for pictures, which means I end up taking most of my photographs outside. And taking most of my photographs outside has resulted in me becoming (perhaps worryingly) obsessed with the shape shifting silhouettes of the plants (and other random things – lawnmowers, tables, a passing cat) by the paving slabs in my garden. It means I’m at the mercy of clouds and rain (living in England means I’m at their mercy a lot a lot), but I kind of like the ephemeral nature of it and maybe also the tiny adrenaline rush of getting a good shot against all the odds (what can I say, life is short and you’ve gotta live it on the edge).
Sometimes (so so many times) the weather just won’t play ball and I’m left to hunt down interesting backdrops that compliment the cover I’m shooting. This can be surprisingly hard and often means I have to edit the photos to within an inch of their lives to fix things like lighting issues and colour clashes – which isn’t my favourite thing to do, but the results can be unexpectedly good. And sometimes it’s actually really fun to mess around with filters, saturations, and contrasts. I can end up with ten different versions of the same photo, which then leaves me with the tricky, but also kinda fabulous, dilemma of picking which one to use.
I tend to take photos on both my phone and my camera. I like having copies on both to fall back on (I’m not sure what disaster I think will happen, but it makes me feel better so I’m sticking with it). Sometimes, though, the perfect shot (shadow, cat, pretty background) presents itself when I only have my phone to hand – the photos never turn out quite as clear, but I’d rather get a nice photo than lose the opportunity. You can edit an okay quality picture, you can’t edit one that doesn’t exist in the first place. (Note to self – remember this when it comes to writing.)
Because I err on the “take lots and pray one of them is good” side of photo taking, I have lots of book pics that never get used. I photograph pretty much every book I read, but I don’t post about anywhere near all of them which makes for a lot of images that never see the light of day. And although that might not be super efficient of me, it’s kind of nice to have a visual scrapbook of my reading list to look back on. And hey, one day I might want to include the book in a list-style post so who’s the efficient one now? *tries to look like it was the plan all along*
Every photographer needs an assistant now and again, and I’m lucky to be able to count on my cats to come to the rescue should it look like I need help with a photo. They’re on hand to make sure I get the purrfect angles and lighting, although it’s pawhaps suspicious how often this help coincides with breakfast/dinner time.
And, sometimes, even the chickens like to get involved.
Here’s to many more book photos, and to trials, errors, and chance.
Do you take photos for your blog? What are your favourite techniques? Has your style changed over the years?