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So, #bookstagram is pretty popular, in case you’ve been under a rock or something. Lots of bookish folks like to partake. Some of those aforementioned are really, really good at it. Their pictures of books and book-related things look like unicorns jumping through meadows with rainbows and fluffy clouds overhead. I always “like” those pictures. They are pleasing to my eyes. 

My pictures are not like those pictures. They never have been, and I have come to realize, they never will be. Could they be? Maybe, if I worked at it. Spent money, and lots of time on it, found good spots, etc. But the thing is, I don’t have an endless supply of time or money, so I have to prioritize. And #Bookstagram? I’m not the best. Everytime I post a picture, I’m pretty much like…

I am not quitting #bookstagram, mind you. In fact, when Val comes to visit me next month, I told her that we are taking books on a field trip! But I have recognized my limitations. And here is why I fail at #bookstagram, in just a few bullet points:

  • My house is not photo ready. I live in an older house with about as much natural light as your average prison cell. So I feel like no matter what I do, everything looks… washed out. There are a handful of indoor pictures I have taken, but for the most part? The only pictures I have ever taken and REALLY loved have been outdoors at my parents’ house. Because my yard is also not great. Hence the need for a field trip!

    Bookstagram9
    Yay for outdoor pictures, yes?
  • Along those same lines, my floors are not great. So I bought flooring! But even so, I don’t think I know what to do with it?

    bg67
    Dear ugly carpet that was no doubt the cheapest for the guy who flipped this house, you’re being not-really-replaced by these 6 squares of flooring. Only in pictures. Also, I decided not to crop my toes out because I just painted them and I like the color. So there’s that.
  • My shelves are in complete disarray. Blame #booksfortrade. Nah, just kidding, blame my laziness. This is what they look like. Which is why I don’t really fancy taking pictures of them:
    bg5
    I couldn’t find a book if I tried!

    And for a more up close look at the madness… 

    bg3
    Because Christmas candles and frames for my wall totally belong on my bookshelves. 
  • The shelf I did spend time organizing… well, I didn’t do a great job on. I wanted to color coordinate, but alas.
    bg1
    It’s… not the best.

    The reds actually turned out decently! 

    bg2
    Who even knew I had so many red books? I didn’t.

    But I legit do not have any idea what is happening with this mess:

    bg6
    That color combo makes sense to literally no one. Not even the weirdo who did it.
  • My props are… lacking. Kelly @ Diva Booknerd did an amazing hashtag awhile back called #randominstagramprop and I LOVED IT. My life is basically summed up well as “Random instagram prop”, so this was fitting. Usually I just grab stuff from a shelf and throw it in a picture. And then never put it back. So here is basically junk that I use:

    bg4
    What do I even do with this stuff? I don’t know. This is where #bookstagram props go to die, methinks.
  • TIME and STRESS. Guys, this is really the biggie. I spent two hours trying to take one photo a few weeks ago- and I didn’t even like it! So, when push comes to shove, do I spent time blogging, reading, reading your blogs- which are all things I really enjoy? Or do I spend time being incredibly stressed over my crappy floors and shit lighting and the fact that you can see my laundry in the edge of a picture and my props are stupid?

    The former, my friends. I choose the former. This way I am not bleary eyed, screaming at some books that simply will not stand up of their own accord (yes, that is an actual thing that happened). Instead, I can post when I have inspiration and desire, and if people happen to like it, awesome. If not, I can live with that too, because I didn’t just devote $100 and seven hours to creating it. Plus, I can still admire everyone else’s prettiness! It’s a win all around! 

And because I really don’t hate every picture I have taken, why not end this with a few that I actually like that are in my own weird house?

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Let’s talk about this! Do you do #bookstagram? Are you awesome at it? Or are you kind of like me? 

Either way, feel free to leave me a link or your username, I LOVE to follow people on there because BOOK PICTURES. 

Posted September 23, 2016 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Discussion, Discussion Challenge / 110 Comments


110 responses to “My #Bookstagram Ineptitude (And Why I’m No Longer Bothered by It)

  1. This is awesome. I’ll probably suck at Instagram. Do guys even do Instagram? I dunno, but after ignoring it largely or occasionally going “oh that’s cool” and moving on, I got an invite but I don’t have a clue what to do. Will I line some books up next to a bitchin background? Probably, and it will be sad. But back to your post. And yes I’ve noticed- some people ace this. I was just looking at one earlier and it was like a photography portfolio.

    I can see that props are important here. 🙂 Noted for later. And FWIW, your pics aren’t bad. I especially like the Like a River Glorious one, with the water (how did you not get the book wet?) And your shelves aren’t bad, mine are a mess. Am I the only person BTW who doesn’t have Funkos? I get it though, the time involved could be serious. I agree with you, if someone has the skill to do it awesome, but I think after the initial rush it could be really time consuming.

    I’m at @gregreads BTW. I have exactly 0 pics up! Ha ha

        • That was my next question. Do they have 100 Funkos? If so, I would need Clarkie I suppose, and definitely Harper and Raven and… why am I only picking women?- okay Murphy too. Can you imagine a Murph funko?? And maybe Jaha so I could hurt it lol. Seriously Funko needs to get on this. I’m going to go check out their site now…

          • NOPE they do not, yet. BUT someone asked them on Twitter, and they said they were planning on it? (And they had flat out said that they WEREN’T planning on making other franchises so Idk why they’d lie.) So fingers crossed that it happens soon. I think a Murphy Funko would be fabulous. He would be an evil little thing, but so fun. People would use their Jaha one for target practice, of course. And then at least Bellarke could happen in the toy version, because I would make them reside next to each other 😉

    • BWHAH I am DYING at this. Like, laughing so hard. Yes, you basically take the books, find a background, and the “flooring” we talked about on Twitter 😂 But then you stack them… creatively, or find props or… well, hell if I know, I suck at it!

      And thank you! The Like a River Glorious one was HARD- I was certain that me, the book, AND the camera were all going to end up in the creek. And this book was like, one that I could NOT ruin because I love the series. Somehow- magic, I guess?- we all stayed dry!

      I shall follow you and your zero pictures, because I am excited for the day you throw books next to a bitchin background 😉

  2. I totally relate to this post. I’ve just given up on even using Instagram really because I don’t have the time or the energy or the props or the lighting either. Hell, I don’t even have the books lol, since I mostly read ebooks. I could take photos of my kindle, but still, it just takes way too much effort that I’d rather put into reading and blogging because I know I will never be the best bookstagrammer out there. The only good photo I even have is when I took one of a gymnastics book and included my grips and chalk and actual gymnastic-y stuff as props lol.

    Btw, the red books are really the most important ones anyway, so if you’re only going to have one section turn out decently, I approve of it being that one 😉

    • I totally agree with you! It’s like, we all have to ration our time, and I am clearly NOT cut out to be a bookstagrammer. So, I will take pictures if the mood strikes me, but… that’s about it! Well, or if I get a book in the mail, let’s be real 😉 OH the gymnastics one sounds amazing!! That’s the thing- it’s like, it would take THAT LEVEL of props and committment to make each one look awesome and like… I’m tired just thinking about it 😀

  3. Haha, this post is great! I have Instagram but honestly I mostly use it for non-bookish photos, like sunsets and flowers because I have no patience (or time) for bookstagram photos. If I remember to snap a photo of book mail as I get it, I post it – usually it’s just the book on our white kitchen table, which I’m very glad for because I don’t have to find a neutral background or anything. My username’s ofdragonsandhearts, but as I said – only some of my photos are bookish.

    I love following bookish accounts (xcrini is one of my favourites, I love her aesthetic) but I really don’t see myself spending hours arranging books to perfection. My shelves aren’t that messy but they’re ordered by genre, so they don’t really look pretty. Plus I have mismatched series, I break the backs of my books and double-stack them on my shelves because I have so many. No good for shelfies. As for the props, I think the weirdest I’ve used were my cacti. 🙂

    • Aw thank you!! And seriously a white kitchen table would make life MUCH easier! I had a brown one for awhile- like a dark, pretty wood- but it was too high for the kids so I swapped with my parents, and theirs is green. And like, it’s practical for the kids, but not nearly as pretty- certainly not bookstagram worthy 😉

      Oh I LOVVVE Crini’s account! Definitely a great one! I do follow you, too- I never mind when people post life stuff. I know some people ONLY like book stuff, but show me your dinner or vacation, I’m game! 😀 Also, I definitely approve of cacti!! That is a great prop! I have used a fire extinguisher, a Snuffleupagus, and toilet paper, but that was all the same post 😂

  4. Haha omg this made me laugh so much. I love how you’re appreciatively self-depreciating yourself. I love bookstagram! But good lord I live in a house with prison lighting too – my house is darker than a moonlight night and always 819384 degrees colder than the outside temperature. But I do love to wield my phone and point it at things because, I swear, photographing books is an addiction. I totally went to a $2 shop to buy seashells the other day… You can imagine the eye rolling from my family 😂😂

    • Aw thank you!! You made me smile! And OH I feel you- in the winter, the lack of sunlight mixed with next to no insulation makes for a VERY cold situation! And that is so funny, because I was at Michael’s today shopping for fake flowers and weird random stones until I made myself leave- so I feel your pain 😂

  5. I totally know what you mean when it comes to props. I used to use props for my pictures at home and I admit, they were good! I even bought a wood backdrop on etsy which is what a lot of people use for their wood backgrounds. But my joy for Bookstagram started going away because I felt stressed searching for props to combine with a book. My mom has LOTS of props, but I just couldn’t deal. It would frustrate me so much! Finally, I said to hell with it. I started taking pictures at coffee shops and I love it! I don’t stress anymore because it’s simple and it’s at a place I love to go to read, especially on a rainy day.
    I’ve loved the outdoor pictures you’ve posted on your account. They are gorgeous and I think you should continue with that when you have time 🙂 you can even join the monthly challenges! Search for various of them (never pick just one) and that way you have choices for each day in case one of them doesn’t work for you. You take pictures in advance at your parents with the books you picked for each day and that’s it 🙂
    You can also post when you feel it. You don’t have to post every day. I mean, you have two kids to spend time on which is more important. Whenever you want to post, you post 🙂

    To be honest, a lot of my favorite accounts are the simple ones. The ones that are in nature or are at coffee shops, like booksthetics (if you don’t have a pretty yard, you could totally be like her), blackbookbeaks, bookbaristas, sweptawaybybooks, sassyndangerous, hopelessbooklover_, crumbsoffiction, booksofsalem, just to mention a few.

    And here’s mine, just in case lattenightsbooks 😀

    • People buy actual backdrops!? DAMN. That is impressive! I love your bookstagram though, yours always seems so… Idk, natural. Like, effortlessly chic? Which, I am sure it isn’t as effortless as it looks, but at least they look like it 😉 I do plan to do it still- just when it is FUN for me. I bought a cool poster sheet at Michael’s today, and found some old crap from my third floor- because I DO want to continue to post photos of any books I may receive from publishers and such, even in the winter!

      I also LOOOOOVE the idea of doing multiple challenges! I always do one, then get stuck on a few days, and give up! This idea is PERFECT- I can just pick and choose! YOu are a genius, thanks for the tips!! ♥♥♥

      • I thought it was real wood until I asked and it’s a backdrop lol Sometimes it’s actually easy to take a picture. There are times when I only take one picture and love it so I don’t take various angles. Oh that’s another thing! Take various angles. Even angles you think look weird. You’d be so surprised.
        And it’s a great idea 🙂 I just screenshot all the ones I find (just search for a month and add bookchallenge, like octoberbookchallenge) and then I delete the ones I probably won’t participate in. I don’t participate much anymore but when I’m out of ideas, I check the challenges 🙂 It’s a great way to meet new people, too. I wish you luck on this! You can do it 🙂

        • Aw thank you!! I am going to take a bunch of books to my parents’ house this week too, because they just have prettier places to take pictures hah. And I agree with you- I LOVE angles! You know, I realized that my DSLR is SO much better than my phone- I am legit not bothering with my phone anymore, I think that is frustrating me more than anything! You are seriously the BEST!! ♥

  6. Sam

    This post totally made me smile, and think of my daughter stressing about “not enough props!”. I just don’t try too hard. I like to post a pic, because I received the book for free, but like you, lighting stinks, not enough props, etc. But, I still enjoy sharing the love for a great book.

    • Aww thanks!! It is seriously better to not try too hard I think. Sometimes I can actually SEE that I have tried too hard in the photo, and it looks worse than if I just shot a random picture of a book sitting somewhere! And you are SO right- it is sharing the love that is most important! 😀

  7. I’m a bookstagrammer and the community is wonderful. I really admire those who post beautiful pictures with lots of books and props and whatever. Those things take time and a real eye for art and photography. As much as I would love to have my pictures as amazing as them, I know what you mean when you say your pictures are not like theirs. Mine will probably never reach their level. Like you, I don’t have many props, my room (where my bookshelf is) is super dark, and the most time I have spent to arrange the books and take pictures is, like, 15 minutes. I don’t have a lot of time to do all those things and sneak in professional editing or something to enhance my photos. So I just use my phone’s camera and do basic edits on Instagram if needed. And sometimes the angle is just all wrong and I have no freaking idea how to make it work! I can’t even maintain a theme to use on my feed. I don’t want to, actually. And it’s fine. I actually don’t mind it at all. I’m still obsessed with bookstagram 😀 I think what’s more important is that I am actually having fun doing it and that’s enough for me.

    • Aw I think that if you enjoy it, then it is 100% worth doing! And I think we are all more critical of our own stuff too, you know? (Also, I just followed you on there, and your pictures are GORGEOUS! I feel you with time though- it’s so hard because it all takes time- the setup, the picture taking itself, the putting it all away (which is, of course, the worst part hahah). That is really probably my biggest deterrent- not the effort, but the time!

  8. Zoe

    Oh bookstagram, the amount of stress it gave me. It was actually a thing I’ve wanted to do since two years ago, but I realised I’m just not cut out for it. I tried to make it a point to post once a day, but I couldn’t commit to it. Either I forgot to post, or I couldn’t think of a picture idea (my creativity is seriously lacking). I slowly lost interest, then I quit (I said I was going on hiatus on my account but… idk really). I decided it wasn’t worth the time and stress. Plus, writing is more of my thing. I’m not much of a photographer. So now I’m gonna dedicate that time and stress to blogging instead (and school ofc).

    • I agree with you so much! That is how I am! I say I will post every day… which turns into “a few times a week” which turns into “crap, I haven’t posted in 3 weeks” 😂 I can take okay pictures I think, but only of stuff that is like, already there- I can’t set up my own, basically. Which is fine, we can’t all be the best bookstagrammers- better we realize where our strengths (and interests!) lie!

  9. I love this post dearly. A big yes to all of it. My shelves are a mess, I have no props, my lighting sucks, and most of my books are ebooks. I don’t care anymore because I was getting stressed. I also don’t have the time. There is too much to do with the blog let alone my kids and my house that bookstagram is the first thing to go. Although I still love to take pictures it will just be my book my coffee and a place mat lol. FYI I like your pictures 🙂

    • Oh, seriously, what am I even supposed to DO with ebooks!? I don’t want my Kindle in every picture! I agree so much, the time is just NOT there. So I have to let it gooooo 😉 And I like your pictures too! We’re always so much more critical of our own than we are of each other’s, you know? I think I will be doing the same- taking them if/when/where I feel like it, and screw the rest of it! And thank you!! ♥

  10. Oohhh I love this post! <3 My house is not photo ready either, the inside has so little natural light, not to mention my bedroom… I can't take picture there and I envy those bookstagrammers who take pictures on their beds and their pretty walls :') However, I found my favorite spot for bookstagram. It's a marble table on my porch set in front of white ceramic walls. I have to take picture quickly if I don't want guests catching me while I take some pictures 😛 my shelves are actually pretty decent, I love tidying them up, HOWEVER, it is located at a very unfortunate corner of my room! So = no natural light 🙁

    I struggled a lot until I finally found my style, my spot, and my favorite spots and now I enjoy taking bookstagram photos every now and then 😀 and I totally hear you on 'some books that simply will not stand up of their own accord'! I got so frustrated when I do a book spine/book heart/book circle :')

    Anyway, my instagram account is @sparklingletters_ in case you want to follow me there 😛 Great post!

    • Aw I feel you! I am jealous of the people with the pretty beds and natural light too- because frankly, I’m kind of lazy and would be very happy just to take pictures on my bed 😉 Natural light is like, the bane of our existence! The spot on your porch sounds very nice though!

      And YES- I tried to do a circle once, but they all kept falling down on each other, and if I had continued, I think several of them would have taken a trip out the window 😂 And I definitely will, thanks so much!!

  11. I feel your pain! I recently changed my bookstagram to using graphics instead because I don’t have physical books. I have maybe 20 paper books which in bookstagram world is like nothing lol. And OMG the prop dilemma I’m so with you. Where do people get all this stuff? And the stuff I have I have no idea what to do with. I relate to this post so deeply

    • Hahha I am glad you can relate, but also, I am sorry you can relate 😉 Seriously, I don’t know what makes “good” props. So when I throw random crap in a picture, I feel so WEIRD! I also take props wayyyy too literally- like if the book says “Crown of Blah Blah”… I throw a plastic crown in 😂 I think that is a hurdle I need to overcome for sure!

  12. Shannon, this post seriously had me laughing SO HARD!! I just love it. 🙂

    I have to say, your outdoor pics are GORGEOUS!! I simply CAN NOT figure out how to do pretty outdoor shots. They never come out right and always look so plain and almost forced. It’s definitely not my thing. But you, girl, have a talent for taking amazing outdoor shots!! Definitely go with that.

    As far as money and time… I HEAR YA!! I’m basically broke, so I hardly ever get to spend money on fun props. I do, however, have a huge addiction to candles which has been most of my life, so I’d say candles are probably my biggest prop that I use. Also babies breath because it’s seriously so cheap and just looks gorgeous in photos!! I’ve also always been a journal collector, so I have quite a few of those I can throw into pics with a pen or marker. I really do props the cheap way… the cheapest way I know how, actually. LOL I stare at others’ photos with all of their amazing props and wish some day I could do that pictures like that… buttttttt I know my limitations, so I just work with what I have. 😉

    Anywho, I totally love your account and I “like” your pics all the time!! I really love your captions too… you, girl, are HILARIOUS!! For me, the caption is half of the picture! 🙂 You do whatever makes you happy, and roll with it. I love your positive attitude. ♥

    • AWW THANK YOU!! You are totally making my day here 😘😘😘 It’s so funny, because I am in SUCH admiration of your indoor shots, so I think it’s pretty funny that we are basically opposites. Truthfully, having a DSLR helps with the outdoor shots, because the lighting is better than my phone- I have decided to break up with my phone for bookstagramming!

      Also, I think your props are always PERFECT, so I say, keep doing whatever you are doing! I should use my candles more often, I have SO many of them too. You seriously have made me feel so much better- especially coming from someone whose pictures are, for me, #goals. ♥♥♥

  13. I love you (and your not so perfect pictures). I have felt the pressure to try to create awesome bookish photos for insta but then I can’t and I get so flustered. I kinda gave up and now I just put whatever I want to on there. On my Insta you can find loads of (not so awesome) pictures of me, my kids, my dog, and my motorcycle. I might have some random landscape pictures on there I thought were cool too. I once saw a book blogger try to call people out that don’t just put bookish photos on their Insta and that’s when I got really angry. Really, I don’t have a “good” instagram because I choose to put stuff other than books on there? Get a life!

    Put whatever you want on your Insta, that’s what I think! Does it have to be inspiring pictures with fabulous props and optimal lighting? I hope not because that’s not (and will never be) me. I have a good LAUGH when I see whole accounts with nothing but bookish photos that are perfect. I know right away that person has WAY too much time on their hands.

    We should start a 5 minute Insta challenge where you are only allowed to post pictures that took you less than 5 minutes to produce. Those are the pictures I am interested in actually seeing. Those 5 minute people have real talent! Who’s with me?

    • Aw thank you, Karen!! 😘😘😘 I like your Instagram! I love seeing pictures of all KINDS of stuff, not just books- though I know not everyone agrees with me haha. (Like that person you mentioned! I saw that too, several times- that people get unfollowed because they post their kids or their dog or something! Like, sorry, but I like the whole PERSON, not just the books!)

      Also, VERY good point about having too much time. Because SERIOUSLY! AND KAREN! That is GENIUS! That is a legit hashtag waiting to happen! #5MinutessorLess! I AM WITH YOU! Legit doing that on my next picture that I don’t obsess over, I’ll tag you, or you tag me, we’ll make it a thing!

  14. I love this post! It is so me! But most of my #bookstagram photos are nowhere near as good as your pictures are. My house is in a constant state of upheaval. Just me not having time to keep stacks cleared up. My bookshelves are organized, or they were about 6 months ago. And since I haven’t had time to sit down and work on them again, newer books are just sitting on the floor around, or on shelves in front of the already organized books. Plus, props. And I don’t have a great floor either! Plus I have two dogs that leave their toys everywhere. I don’t have much of a yard. I could just go agree with all your points here. Great post! So glad I’m not the only slacker with this. I always will start out the month challenges of pictures, then about half way through I get behind, and by the end I’ve just given up.

    • Aww thank youu! I feel you with the upheaval for sure. My LIFE feels like a mess. I might throw some books in a bag to take to my parents’ house tomorrow, just to get a decent Crooked Kingdom picture hahha. I do the SAME thing with the challenges too! I start them and then I get stuck on one prompt, then a few, and then I am like “oh, I’ll catch up!” and then it’s 3 months later and I remember I never finished the challenge 😉

  15. This is fantastic. I tried to do #bookstagram more when I first started out, but I can’t keep myself from posting whatever the heck I want, so it’s a mix of things at the moment. I do want to try adding more book photos though just for fun, but they will never be incredibly beautiful like some of the others I’ve seen!

    I’m on Instagram – @laurenashleybecker

    • Aw thanks! And I LOVE that you post whatever you want- I think that is a positive thing (even though some bookstagrammers seem to be “purists”, so to speak 😂) I agree with you though, if it is fun, I will definitely do it, and if not… then I will pass, because why do it if we aren’t having fun?

  16. These are all of the reasons I’m not on Instagram. No patience, my house isn’t pretty, my books come from used bookstores, props are “clutter” that I have to find a place to store when I’m not using them. Taking pictures would be more stress than it’s worth.

  17. jo

    I feel is the light,make the pictures looks too yellow.I’m an unpopular bookstagrammer too hahaha .My username is @dark_chii_bsb28
    I don’t like to have a theme,I just can’t

  18. This post is perfect. I think lighting and having a good spot for picture is key. Which I don’t either. And oh man, all those props! Can’t afford that stuff. Sometimes I really appreciate the simple #bookstagram (book and plant haha), though the intense ones are definitely good eye candy.

    Great post, Shannon!

  19. So I was reading this thinking, “Preach it!” I can relate to the nth degree. I posted a picture of my October reads and I was freaking exhausted afterwards. It took almost 3 hours and I actually ironed a tablecloth for the picture. Most days I don’t even bother ironing my clothes for work! Then I got to the end with your pictures and went, “wait, what?” Are you crazy?! Those pictures are awesome and I wish mine looked like that! Overall though, I’m totally with you. I’m not going to spend time and money that could go elsewhere for some subpar pictures. 😀

    • Awww thanks! Seriously though, it IS exhausting! ANd I feel like it shouldn’t be, it should be fun? And I don’t even OWN an iron, so I feel you on that level hahhaha.

      You are TOO sweet- those are just the pictures I actually like! I could show you a whole post of crappy ones, I promise 😉 Like, some are REALLY crappy hahhahaha. But I also think we are harder on ourselves than each other, you know? And YES- I would rather do just about anything than exhaust myself taking pictures only to hate it 99% of the time 😂

  20. You had me at “unicorns jumping through meadows with rainbows and fluffy clouds overhead.” Lol😁
    I love this post and you’re pretty dead on. I love all the pretty pictures. However, recently it’s been kind of blah, I feel like everyone’s post is the same books and I get bored if it’s the same old thing everyday.
    I take pictures sometimes. My IG is @BookNerdAddict, I’m ok nothing special, I’m one of thousand.
    The planning that go’s into bookstargram is crazy! You are right, it takes about 1 hr or more to set everything up and take pictures and that’s if you have all the props!!!!!
    I only do it once in a while, when I have free time! And when I do, I do a whole bunch of books at one time. So I can post whenever.
    But to tell you the truth,is rather read or blog😊
    Amazing post Shannon!
    Happy reading xoxo 💖

    • Aww thanks!! I DO agree with you- sometimes everyone’s posts can end up looking quite similar- it takes an extra “something” to stand out in the sea of “books and flowers” basically hahha. That’s part of why I can’t do a “theme”, I’d get wayyy too bored of looking at it myself! I definitely prefer reading or blogging too 😀

  21. Oh my gosh, I am terrible at Bookstagram. I pretty much gave up on it – I don’t really have any pretty backgrounds or anything in my house (that hasn’t been colored on by small children or without toys everywhere). I do love looking at Bookstagram pictures though, because they’re always so pretty…but mine are always like “um, why did you bother?”

    • Bwhahah SAME! My kids took over every spare inch too, even my room sometimes, like right now when my son’s birthday presents are scattered all over it! I feel you- I enjoy looking at everyone else’s, but I am just like… “well, that was a waste of time!” with a solid 95% of my own!

  22. Aww! I like your photos! I feel your pain! I have only one spot in my house that has enough light to take photos! So all of my backdrops look alike… I was so into it but I kind of stopped this summer lol 😛

  23. This post is SO ME, it’s crazy. I totally feel you on all of this, because I have literally the same issues. My house is cluttered already, so I don’t really want to spend tons of money on “prop items” for photos. My lighting also looks about prison cell-level.. maybe a bit worse. And I’m messy, so you can always see clutter in the background, no matter how I crop XD Hilarious post!

    Brittany @ Brittany’s Book Rambles

    • Bwhahah SAME. I have wayyy too much crap as it is- why add more!? And I have taken to cloning out the crap in the background! That is how sad it is- I will notice the edge of the laundry basket or something and clone it out in Picmonkey 😂

  24. Whhaaat but I really like your feed! Lol. But I do get the frustration. I used to agonize too about not having any pretty backgrounds, and now I use a white linen cloth. AND THE PROPS OMG HAHAHAHAHAHAHA I just pick up whatever shit I find too! Recently for a festival I participated in, a friend brought tons of decoration stuff for our booth, and when it was time to clean up everything, she took pity on me and gave me some pretty silk flowers so YAY!

    As for the mess that is taking elaborate pics and with more than one prop, I do have to put everything back where I found it or else I get grief from my parents lol. So this does make the task tedious and is probably why I don’t post pics every single day like other peeps do.

    • Well, you are TOO kind 😘😘 I think we’re generally much harder on ourselves than each other, you know? OH silk flowers, that is definitely something I want to get some of- especially with winter coming, my outdoor options will be very limited!

      It IS tedious- I definitely couldn’t post every day. Even though, let’s be real, I almost never end up putting any of the shit back in a normal time frame 😉

  25. I have an Instagram account, but I hardly use it. I’m horrible with taking pictures and that’s with a digital camera. I do need a new digital camera which I plan on getting on Black Friday.

  26. I feel this so much! I tried hard, too. I failed miserably. I still attempt to take a couple of pictures each week, but I never like them and I just find myself biting my nails after I post it. I honestly would rather spend my time reading and blogging. I do appreciate the beautiful pictures that others have spent time on. How do they even do it? This is always going to be a mystery to me!

    • Totally agree with you! I LOVE looking at other people’s gorgeousness- and it totally blows my mind that they have such an eye for it! But I just can’t let myself get so wrapped up in it, I mean, it is for fun, so if I am not having fun… time to put the kibosh on that 😉

  27. I don’t really understand the purpose of Bookstagram. I mean, I know what the cover looks like already, and I don’t see what some flowers or felt tip pens or whatever have to do with the book. This may be sour grapes on my part, because the few times I tried to take a bookish photo, they turned out garbage, but of all the book-related things to do, looking at photos of books is pretty far down my list. Of course, any booklove is good, so I’m fine with people doing a bunch of book photography; it’s just not for me.

    • BWHAHA I love this response, Wendy! I must admit, I have those days too- like “okay, this is nice I guess but WHY? Just… why?” And like you, I am likely just salty that my pictures made me mad 😉 But while I get that it is fun and people enjoy it (in which case, have at it!), I don’t like that it has almost become a new blogging prerequisite. Like, so I have read the book, reviewed it, and now you need me to take its senior portrait too? EnougH!

      • “Take its senior portrait”–love it! I’m now picturing the book leaning coyly against a tree…resting its chin on its hands in another shot…dreamily gazing at a flowering tree in yet another shot…

  28. I feel you, Shannon! I am so-so on Instagram but I have been a funk lately and I haven’t been posting as much. I do ENVY a lot of bookstagrammers because they are freaking awesome creatures who manage to take amazing pictures AND post multiple times a day! If only I had their powers. ha ha

    I have a rolly full of props and stuff that I have accumulated over the months and I have been using it! Also… I live in an older house and I feel you about the lighting. The good thing is that we have a sliding door in the living room so I usually take photos there with the door open… AND here’s a hoot, I use scrapbook paper for my backgrounds! hahaha 🙂

  29. I RELATE TO THIS SO MUCH, IT’S UNBELIEVABLE.
    Honestly do not know how people take indoor photos – outdoor just seems to work better for me!
    Also, my bookshelves are permanently in disarray – especially after doing a photoshoot! I’m too lazy to put back all my books! xD I end up rereading some… xD
    My user is @corrallingbooks btw! 🙂

    • Aww thanks! And SAME! My room never looks the same after a bout of bookstagram. And I end up hating most of the pictures anyway, so for ALL that upheaval, I get like, one good picture. And then I will have weeks of no posts because… I am exhausted from the last time 😉

  30. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels like this! I try so hard with my Bookstagram, but my photos never turn out quite as I picture them in my head…
    I have the same problem though with my house not really lending itself to great Bookstagram pictures. It’s quite dark, so getting good lighting is tough, plus all my books are currently in storage boxes in the kitchen because I haven’t lived here long and I just haven’t got anywhere to put them right now. I have loads of random props too, but can never figure out how to lay them all out, and it just ends up being a total disaster!
    Great post! 🙂

    • Aw thanks! And seriously, I feel you- I have this grand and glorious idea in my head and then the picture turns out… well, yeah, not like that at all! This actually just happened to me the other day, and it bummed me out- even though I said I wasn’t going to let it bum me out 😉 I think that the storage boxes are an awesome excuse though- I’d probably leave them there just for that reason 😂

  31. I appreciate this so much! I understand the struggle of bad lighting. I have one window and one sliding glass door in my otherwise dark or yellow-lighted apartment. I stumble upon Instagram 101s all the time and weep because I can never meet requirement No. 1– “photograph in natural light”.

    As for props…No. Just no! I live in a rather small space, a 750 sq. ft. apartment and the thought of props (read: CLUTTER) fills me with anxiety. I’d love to describe my instragram as minimalist, but really it’s just sparse.

    • Seriously, what is up with the yellow lighting!? My biggest problem, I swear! I even tried to get the bulbs that CLAIM to be white light, but NOPE. And I think minimalist totally works! I am like, way too into keeping clutter, so I definitely do NOT need an excuse to accumulate more! I almost bought fake flowers and then was like “No, back AWAY from the crap you don’t need!”, so I think staying clutter free is definitely the best approach!

  32. I can relate so much! My house is this tiny place between two larger ones, so the lighting’s pretty crappy. And shelves! I don’t have enough space for them, so I tend to not hold many physical books, so shelf photos are impossible… But I like looking at other people’s photos, so I think I’ll just content myself with being a viewer. Some people can really work magic with this stuff, I swear.

    • Oooh that is rough! Mine is on a hill, and so the ones above it block the light, so I feel you! There is basically nowhere for light to come in, ugh. I LOVE that you are content with being a viewer- that is the point that I need to get to, because you are SO right, it is fun to look!

  33. Ha! Loved this. If I had the time … I probably still wouldn’t spend it on props for bookstagram. I enjoy looking at it, but also enjoy other people’s random shots too.

  34. I LOVE this post! I can relate so much. I live in an older house and I don’t have a ton of money so nothing is really photo ready and I don’t have the ability to go buy a bunch of things. I would like to buy a few (not too pricey) items in the future to help, but I just do what I can at the moment. Even though I see all of these amazing bookstagrammers pictures I’m not stopping my pictures either. Because I love it and it’s fun! I don’t have to be the best. Also, my bookshelves look the same. Or worse. 😛 haha

    • Yes, yes exactly! I feel you, I want to buy a *few* things- but things I can use in lots of pictures, not just once or twice. And like, I don’t know what those things ARE. And I think if you love it, then you should absolutely keep doing it, because I will be honest- I love almost every picture I see! Sure, some are *extra* special, but with people I follow? I almost always like their photos, because you can tell they love books and are having fun! (Also, glad I am not the only one with shelves that are messes 😉 )

  35. I’m with you, I’m never going to be bookstagram famous but I love it anyway! It takes a hell lot of time though, waiting for natural light, finding props, taking 1000 photos and picking my favourite one, then editing it. DUDE I LOVE YOUR SHELVES THOUGH MORE PHOTOS OF THEM PLEASE ON BOOKSTAGRAM #winning

    • Yesss that is the thing! The TIME! And my kids basically do not let me be human during the day so… I have even less of an opportunity! And seriously!? I will totally take more shelfies if you like them, I assumed everyone would hate them, you have just given me motivation!! ♥♥

  36. Oh, I am so glad that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I LOVE all the prettiness on Bookstagram, but I have come to the realization that it is not my forte and it probably won’t ever be. Like you, it takes me WAY too long to stage pictures that turn out looking … okay. And I just don’t have the time or the patience to spend on it every day – or even every week. But the worst problem (for me) is that I just don’t have a good eye for design. I try and arrange things artfully and when I get done, I end up looking at it and realizing that it doesn’t look artful or interesting at all and the balance is all out of whack and … sigh. Oh well. I’ll leave the Bookstagramming to the pros and just occasionally post my random kinda sorta pretty good pictures. No one needs to be inundated with my failures. (I should be the only one to suffer that fate.)

    • YEP exactly Nicole!! I am the same- I think I am being all “artsy” but really, it just looks cluttered and… not great. BWAHAH I agree with you, I will let the talented, creative folks post every few hours, and if I luck into a picture every now and then, I can grace the world with its presence 😉

  37. Autumn

    Preach!! I feel like you wrote this article about me. I always think, oh I can take a pic like that…but no!

  38. Becca

    Oh My Gosh Shannon! I have been LOLing this entire post! I have gone through much of what you have, I’ve built up my prop collection over time but at first it was really frustrating! I too have had bad lighting, books falling over and messy shelves! It’s all part of Bookstagram and I think you either love it or hate and either is OK 🙂 I really like your photos! Your outdoor ones are so pretty and I love the little accents you’ve added like the pearls and Hunger Games funkos! As for wooden floors, check out Peek Prints on Etsy! They have awesome backdrops!

    • Awww thank you! It is actually really inspiring that you have had similar issues, because you are one of the best bookstagrammers I know! So for you to have struggled… well, it gives me hope that one day I will be less sucky! And your kind words me a lot too- again, because you are like, a bookstagram idol for me! And thank you, I will check out that Etsy shop! Because like, anything that would make this easier for me is worth it- I WILL be taking photos of books I get of course, even if I plan on calming down, so backdrops sound key!

  39. Oh Shannon, I absolutely head over heels love this post! I’m a massive fan of bookstagram and I spend a lot more time than I probably should there admiring other people’s photos and commenting and such. I do take my own pictures and I like to think they are okay. But yes, props are always an issue and especially in winter it becomes so hard because natural light disappears. And when it is there, I’m at school. By the time I get home it’s dark and then weekends are chaotic and STRESS D:

    But I DO like your photos. Honestly, I think my favourite photos of yours are some of the ones you showed here – the outdoor ones. I actually love taking outdoor ones too. You should keep those up ^.^

    • Aww thank you! I think your pictures are AMAZING, so yes, you are doing an awesome job, please keep it up- my eyeballs enjoy your pictures 😀 And thank you SO much, you are too sweet! I did actually just take a few outdoor ones the other day- they were hit and miss, but at least it didn’t take me 2 hours 😉

  40. ♥ this post! And I have to confess something, I just CAN’T with bookstagram. I don’t know, photos don’t do it for me so I am a-ok with yours! I want to know how a book made you feel. That is way more important to me than if you can take pretty photos of mediocre books just because they have a certain color cover.

    • AWW thank yoU! And I DEFINITELY agree with you- I don’t care if the book picture is pretty if the book sucks- unless you are also telling me that the book sucks. That is why I don’t really see the point in spending my time trying to take photos, I don’t think they will do anything for me in the grand scheme of things. It’d be one thing if I was having fun, then I think it is worth it, but otherwise? Nah!

  41. I tried instagram for my other blog for a few months and liked it okay, I just didnt really care all that much about pictures of books or makeup or clothes. I guess I’d rather read the books and wear the makeup and clothes. I deleted my account a few months ago and I have to say, it’s been great. I have way more time 🙂

    You take picture however you want Shannon, I get annoyed when all bookstagram pictures look the same. I’d take toe pictures any day over the super arranged ones 😉

    Nereyda│ Nick & Nereyda’s Infinite Booklist

    • Aw good for yoU! I agree, I would rather be READING the books than taking pictures for sure! But I do like to sometimes have a picture to go along with a post, which is why I still bother at all hahah. I DO agree that I am not a fan of ones where every single thing looks the same- I get bored way too quickly!

  42. Hahahhaha but we MUST go out! I will steal your books to take pictures with! So does this mean I should bring my fancy camera then? Yes. I will teach you my ways, even though I’m also not popular or the best, not that I care because I don’t have time for this either! I will be okay with two pictures a week hahaha!

    • YESSS. YEs on both counts. I like your pictures a lot. I also think you live in a pretty place. And your life is less cluttered than mine, which helps. (I was going to say your ROOM is less cluttered, but I think both are applicable.) Two pictures a week would be FINE for me- I don’t have time for everyday stuff!

  43. YES! This post is everything. I’m sitting here nodding (as if you can see me… oh god, you can’t can you? because my lipstick has totally worn off) and smiling and thinking, “yes, sistah!” I am so with you when it comes to the bookstagram fail. My pics NEVER look like the works of freaking art that some people post. #1 – I am not a photographer, #2 – I work all day so when I’m home at night with any spare time there’s no natural light left, #3 – gorgeous backgrounds and props… I am so lost when it comes to this! I never have any good ideas and end up wandering the house looking for random items that are never going to look like the pretty pictures. This is one of those things that I want so bad to be good at… but I’m just not. *huge dramatic sigh*

    • Bwhahha I CAN see you, I spy on everyone who visits the blog, tbh. There’s a little disclaimer at the bottom that says “I can see you, wave to the camera” 😉 But seriously, I agree completely! I wander the house too- dig through boxes of old shit, whatever- and it just doesn’t work! Becca has me looking at backdrops (she commented about them a few comments above you) and now I am down the rabbit hole 😂

  44. OMG I am totally like you! (@WilowRaven in case you want to take a peek).
    My biggest thing is…I don’t want to JUST post books and if I were to seriously invest in becoming a ‘true’ booksingramer I think I would have to cut out all the cocktails, road shots and randomness and I’m not sure I want to do that.
    Even though…I did buy a few props today 🙂
    My thing is the lighting – no room in my house has enough natural light and there is always a glare AND I’m only ever just using my phone.
    So yeah – I’m totally with you on the not being bothered by it all!
    Fantastic post! Thanks for sharing!!

    • OOOH please never cut out cocktails and randomness! I LOVE seeing those things. I know the whole “keeping bookstagram books only” thing is liked by SOME people, but I am not one of them 😉 I am seriously thinking of buying a backdrop, just to help me with like, ease of use when I actually want to take pictures. Might be worth the $20 in the end, you know? Decisions, decisions. 🤔

      And thanks!! ♥

  45. This is so great and it was so fun reading everyone’s comments. I suffer from the same issues. It’s fun to try, but at the end of the day that’s just not where my talents lie. I hate that there might be people who would like to participate but don’t because they are intimidated by some of the amazingness.

    • Aww thank you so much! I agree, I hope that people who DO want to do it for fun do it- because it’s okay to not be like, a super pro! But also, if you aren’t having fun, I think it’s okay not to do it too! Just basically everyone should do what makes them happiest! 😀

  46. I suck so bad at Instagram & I used to stress SO MUCH over it, which is ridiculous, because – like it or not – I’ll never have as pretty pictures as the popular bookstagrammers do. For one, I kinda lack the ability to take great photos, but I also don’t have a fancy camera, so all my photos have been taken with my phone. I totally relate to the prison-cell feel to your house – ours doesn’t have much light either so every time I wanted to take a half decent photo, I had to bring out the books to the garden. #tiring
    Tbh, I decided bookstagram, or, at least, to be a pro at it, is def not for me when I read a blogger’s post (who, btw, takes GORGEOUS pics) in which she wrote she takes more than 50 pics each time. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to take more than 15 before getting bored out of my mind.
    Great post, Shannon!

  47. Do you do #bookstagram? No, but I Litsy. See I love quotes, Litsy lets me snap those quotes in pictures and share them. No stress, no props. 🙂 Now there are #bookstagram quality photos on Litsy, but I’m usually focused on those pictures that have quotes in them.

    I’m not even sure WHY I have an Instagram account. I rarely post there or even look at pictures. Too much to wade through to see books, I guess. Probably the pressure, too, that I don’t have the patience to make my pictures look that good. I would rather spend that time reading.

  48. hahah this was pretty funny. I love your Amy gif. I feel that way sometimes too. I can totally relate on the natural light thing. Every “tip post” I read always says “the most important thing is natural light” & I’m like “well, I’m fucked”. The light here sucks. But I just fake it. I use a few apps to edit photos but it does take time :/ I usually take photos one day a week and just edit that day to save me time through out the rest of the week. It’s work hahaha

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