Do you ever peruse book photos and wonder, “How do they have all these cool Bookstagram props?” I know I do!
I can promise you, starting a Bookstagram doesn’t need to be expensive. You don’t even need to buy books! Seriously, you can just use library books. Props don’t need to be expensive either! In fact, I can guarantee you have stuff around your house you can already use to rock your book photos!
What is Bookstagram? It’s actually Instagram, and you can search the #bookstagram hashtag to see alllll the book photos. Be forewarned though, there’s over 34 million photos under that hashtag alone. It’s definitely a rabbit hole so be prepared to spend some time browsing all those beautiful book photos.
If you are brand new to Bookstagram and need to know where to even start with all of this, I highly recommend The Uncorked Librarian’s post: How to Start A Killer Bookstagram for Beginners. She’s one of my good friends and she’ll give you the nitty gritty on how to get started.
Today I’m going to show you a behind the scenes look at what set up I use to take my pictures, as well as my Bookstagram props and YES I will even tell you where I got them and what I paid for them. Whaaaat? And then you can learn just how cheap I really am!
Disclaimer: The links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on an item and choose to purchase it, I will make a small commission at no cost to you. To see my full disclosure policy, click here.
So first, let’s talk backgrounds, shall we? As you can see from this photo, I use a couple different types. One is a paper background I got from Amazon, one is actually real wood that my husband put together and painted for me (isn’t he awesome?) and two are vinyl like plastic tablecloths I also got from Amazon. For the actual background, I use a piece of white foam board that I purchased from The Dollar Tree for one dollar. This way my background is white and clean looking without anything distracting in the background.
Sometimes I lay my backdrop on the table, sometimes on the floor, and one time in a pinch (because the lighting was better) I used my couch!
The nice part about having portable backdrops is that I can photograph wherever the natural light is best.
You can find the backgrounds I use here:
Props are one of those super fun things you can add to photos to give them some extra pizzazz. The truth is, you really don’t need props, but the reality is that they’re just plain fun to play with.
How many or what type of props you want to use is really up to your personal style (and budget). Here’s some fun ideas you can use!
Bookstagram Prop Ideas
- fake plants
- real plants
- place mats
- throw blankets
- scrapbook paper
- dish plates/platters
- letter boards
- your pets (if they cooperate, mine won’t)
- fairy lights
- wood/plastic trays
The possibilities are endless! I have even used my shirt as a prop and yes you can see it here. Doesn’t even look like a shirt, does it? Well, maybe now it does now that I told you about it!
I fully suggest browsing your house to see what props you can find before going out and purchasing anything. If you start looking at things around your house with a creative eye, you may find you have so much more to work with than you first realized!
If you do decide to go out and purchase props, try to buy things that can double as both a Bookstagram prop and something that can be used in your house. This way if you ever decide you’re done taking photos, you don’t have an abundance of things you have no idea what to do with.
Places to Purchase Props
- The Dollar Tree is seriously the best place to start. You can get foam board, poster board, fake plants, candles, baskets, etc from here. Definitely start here.
- Thrift Stores are the next best places to search for props. You can find scarves, fabric scraps, baskets, etc here for a good price.
- Michaels/Joann Fabrics is the last place I typically look for props and I only buy it if 1. it will fit into my regular home decor or 2. it’s on clearance
I got a set of gorgeous flowers from Michael’s recently and I paid $2 for the entire bundle on clearance. Score! The majority of the props you see in the photo I paid less than 2 dollars apiece for. No lie. The fairy lights were the most expensive at $3 in the Target dollar spot.
Ok, I’ve got props, I’ve got backdrops, NOW WHAT?
Honestly a lot of prop placement for my photos have come from trial and error. Sometimes it takes snapping the photo quite a few times with different prop arrangements until you’re satisfied.
Flat lay photography is so fun, but it definitely takes a little practice to figure out angles and such. So if you find you have a pile of props and you’re rearranging them and struggling with getting the “perfect” photo, I promise you that you are not alone! We all struggle and second guess our pictures. All of us.
Maybe one day I should do a post on allll my outtakes of terrible book photos I’ve taken. I have a lot. A loottttt.
What are your favorite Bookstagram props? Do you have a Bookstagram? What’s your handle, let’s connect!
If you like this post, stay tuned for my next Bookstagram posts on color schemes and my fave photo editing apps!