Bookstagram props are one of the things that always make me jealous of other book bloggers because I want all those pretty things! This is also going to be a pretty long post!
The last few weeks have been awesome for me on Instagram because of #romancestagram! It’s such an awesome community of romance readers sharing their favorite books! I can’t tell you how many books I’ve already added to my TBR already. It’s not even funny!
Anyway, this is the inspiration for my post! I was really insecure and intimidated by all the beautiful Instagram posts with all those props that at one point, I didn’t want to post photos at all! I mean, I don’t have all those props and candles and basically everything else to take photos.
But following #romancestagram and seeing a lot of romance-themed posts, made me think outside the box and look through what I already have around the house to use as props! And I have to tell you, I’m inspired again!
See, I realized that you don’t have to have all the beautiful things to take an awesome photo! You just need to be creative and think outside the box! I purchased a few items throughout the years, but now, I don’t have the urge to buy all the bookish things anymore! And I was able to find things that I already own lying around the house!
This post is about encouraging everyone to not be afraid or insecure to post your photos! Hopefully, this post will inspire you to be creative with your bookstagram props and join the #bookstagram community!
Don’t forget to check out the following posts:
Props you can reuse multiple times
Invest in a good backdrop
I currently have 3 backdrops that I use all the time. The two vinyl backdrops I bought on Etsy (Bubblegum Backdrops) were a bit pricey but I use them all the time, so it was a good splurge. I don’t have nice textured tables so this was an awesome alternative. I tried using 12×12 scrapbook paper and even with 2 of them set side by side, it was really hard to manage bigger flat lays. I picked the 24×24-inch size vinyl backdrop which is perfect for flat lays.
The other backdrop that I bought for $1.50 was a poster paper that I found at Michaels! I just saw this wood design and I thought it was perfect. It’s longer in length (about a 40×20 size) and better than scrapbook paper, plus they store well! And you can’t beat the $1.50 price tag! Just make sure you don’t roll or crease it.
The next backdrop that I hardly use as a backdrop anymore was one I purchased 2 years ago. I think it was about $4 or something at Michaels and it’s a plain white poster board. This is also perfect to use as a reflector (see post below under lighting) instead of buying a legit reflector. Since I’ve had it for 2 years now, I’d say it has earned its stripes, yeah?
Buy flowers, leaves, & shrubbery
As most of you have noticed, I use a lot of flowers on my flat lays. I also reuse them. A LOT. The key is to buy them when they’re on sale! I normally don’t post flat lays themed on seasons, so I don’t really need to worry about buying seasonal items. So shopping off-season usually gets you a 60% or 70% off of the seasonal flowers!
I have a flower weakness and I want to buy them all – which is really not possible. The key is variety, so you can mix or match them and have enough to cycle through for your photos. Also, purchase 2 or 3 branches of flowers if possible for balance.
reusing flowers is okay!
Purchase greenery or leaves since it helps balance the colorful flowers and book covers. You can also hit up your local dollar store for flowers and shrubbery!
Tip: Don’t be afraid to bend the stems! They help a lot with composition and balance.
same green shrubbery
Wood, Crates, & Trays
Buy a few pieces of painted or paintable wood. There are a ton at Michaels and I get them on sale! I currently have 3 pieces that I’ve accumulated throughout the years and I use them quite often.
Also, get a crate! I have a few crates since I use them for storage. This is a win-win!
Tip: I use my crates to store my props and other items.
same white crate (this has a Christmas design)
I use natural light. And that’s FREE! I usually take my photos in the afternoons. I have three spots where I take photos – our bedroom, the guest room, and the living room (by the sliding door). The guest room is perfect in the mornings, the bedroom is perfect in the afternoons, and the living room is perfect all day.
I also take photos during the weekends. I work full-time and get home late, so weekends are perfect for this. I take a few photos that I can post throughout the week (which is why I don’t post daily on Instagram).
Remember that white poster board I mentioned earlier? You can TOTALLY use that to reflect the light and avoid the shadows! SERIOUSLY this helps A LOT! And you didn’t have to spend a lot of $$ to buy a real reflector!
Tip: Use a white poster board to reflect light if you don’t want to splurge on a reflector.
I tried using a lamp with a bright white light as my friend Crystal @ Crystal Blogs Books recommended and I wasn’t too happy with the outcome. I didn’t like the lighting and I much prefer natural light. But this is just my preference, you can try it and see if you like it.
Pearls & Glass Stones
Other staples that I have on hand are pearls and glass stones. I only picked 2 colors of glass stones and have no plans to buy more. I figured blue and clear glass stones should be good enough! I also bought one pack of pearls that came with clear diamonds and the pearls were in two colors, light pink and cream.
white and blue glass stones
cream & pink pearls & clear diamonds
One of the items I wanted to purchase was alphabet tiles! We don’t have a Scrabble board here so I was psyched when we found the tiles sold at Michaels. Crystal was the one who pointed it out to me and I have been using them ever since! You can use it to spell anything you want, too!
Bookish Box Goodies
One way of getting a lot of stuff is subscribing to bookish boxes! They are pricey, but you get a book and goodies. Plus you can reuse the bookish items that they come with!
Free items around the house
Pets & Babies
If you have them, use them! LOL I’m kidding, but I absolutely love looking at photos with furbabies! Twylah doesn’t love to pose for the camera so I hardly use her (although I wish I could). I don’t have any babies so you won’t see those on my feed.
Wooden Serving Tray/Food
If you have a wooden tray, use it. If you have a plastic tray, use it! I’m pretty sure you have at least one tray at home! Plus, you can use it creatively – like take it outside!
Another item that works is food! I don’t have a bunch of photos with food but if you can, use them! I also try taking photos while at a restaurant – especially if I am bringing with me my tablet or kindle! If not, I use my phone.
I love mugs and we have a few varieties that I have purchased throughout the years. They really don’t have to be fancy, but I prefer the ones that are shorter with a bigger mouth. But you can use anything you have at home. If you don’t have any mugs, hit up your local dollar store! They have tons to choose from and they’re only a dollar!
This is self-explanatory. Use them all the time! A lot of people prefer a white or cream-colored sheet, but if you don’t have them (I don’t), use anything you have! Trust me, it still works!
Throw (this was a Christmas gift from my coworker)
You don’t even need to buy those fancy bookish pillows! I only have one of those pillows and I hardly use it!
You can use sweaters, tights, tops, bottoms, swimwear, dresses, or anything in your closet! I prefer sweaters or cardigans and I use them all the time (on myself, too *wink).
lace kimono, faux leather leggings, orange shirt
This item does cost money, but if you already have them lying around the house collecting dust, USE THEM!
Pierre plays the guitar, so he does have a few guitars and amps and I have “borrowed” them from him a few times.
Use all of these to your heart’s content! You do need to purchase these, but I’m pretty sure we all have at least one of these lying around!
If you collect book sleeves, use them on your spreads! They are cute and you can match them to your flat lay.
Don’t forget to use your books! Stack them, line them up, whatever! They can be used to enhance your spread!
If you’re like me who absolutely LOVE stuff, you probably have a few around the house! I have a few items that I use a lot: Pierre’s skull ashtray that he has never used before (it used to store his guitar picks, but those picks have found a different home LOL), a vase, frames, whatever you can find! Use your imagination!
Seasonal Decors/Fairy Lights
If you decorate for the holidays, you can use Christmas balls and other seasonal décor that you already have lying around. I don’t usually use seasonal flat lays because I don’t have a lot but I do use them sometimes.
This was so interesting to read!
Aj @ Read All The Things! says
Your photos are so pretty! I use bedsheets as backdrops, but I like your idea better. It seems less wrinkly. For props, I use stuff I find around my parents’ house. They have more stuff than me. I mostly use fake flowers, colored pencils, shark teeth, shells, rocks, and beads.
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Thanks, Aj! OHHH I forgot about shells! I hardly use them, though LOL and shark teeth?! That’s FREAKING awesome!
Chana @ Paper Procrastinators says
Lol, I get the whole stealing things from people for pictures. I take books and props from my dad and brothers all the time and they only find out about it once they see it on Instagram ?.
hahaha yeah… I don’t tell Pierre about it… but I do handle his stuff with care. I mean, I don’t want to scratch his guitars so I’m really careful with it ???
Holy cow, your bookstagram game is hella strong. I’m not nearly as active on Instagram (as far as taking pictures and all that) and a big reason for that is because I’m not all that crafty at posing books and lighting and so I don’t even bother. I’m going to have to take a look at these though because I do want to amp up my IG again. Wish me luck!
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Thanks, Rowena and good luck! Also, try using the white poster board to reflect the light if you have shadows. I got this tip from a photographer 🙂
I’m more of a minimalistic style, so I tend to like my photos to have less stuff.
Crystal Biby says
Great post! I promise not to tell Pierre that you “borrow” his things for your IG pics. 😉
Oh, you!!! I show him the pics after I use his stuff… LOL
I’m only done this 3 times, though… I mean, except for Mort because now he’s MINE! 🙂
Lover Of Romance says
I LOVE This post so much, I have been trying to find a way to get better at my bookstagramming. So I went to Michaels to get a few things. Thanks for the great advice here!!! Just perfect. You have the most beautiful photos 🙂 So thanks for sharing your expertise.
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Thanks, Renee! I was frustrated when I started bookstagramming and I actually stopped for a time 🙁 Glad this post inspired you!
My goodness! You have so much bookstagram advice packed into this post. THANK YOU!
I try to use natural lighting myself too (way better than lamps or the ceiling light)… but my pictures still turn out dark frequently, even when I have direct sunlight coming in through the windows (and I’m careful not to stand in the way of the light). Maybe I need to figure out a reflector to utilize in my photos?!
Oh and… ROFL… I “borrow” things for photos too sometimes. No one ever really finds out either. 🙂
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Yup! I set-up by the window and there is ALWAYS shadows, I do edit my photos so you may try that as well. The reflector is quite useful for this, too!
Glad this post helped you! Hope to see your photos soon!
Arya D. says
It’s interesting how you make your bookstagram posts. I’ve never attempted it before mainly because I don’t buy books I tend to borrow from my local library and I’m not sure if they would photograph well but I think I will give it a go after seeing your awesome ideas!
Hi Arya, You can totally use library books for your bookstagram! I see a lot of bookstagrammers who do that! I also borrow 90% of my books but I do so 100% digitally. I use my iPad and the book cover 🙂
Hope this post inspires you!
Thanks so much for this! I’m new to bookstagram and was super intimidated! I didn’t think I’d even bother until reading this. I feel much more confident now!
You’re welcome, Jess! Glad this post helped you! Can’t wait to see your photos!
Clo @ Book Dragons says
Ah I’ve kept putting off taking more photos for my bookstagram cause I have no theme, and props were an issue. I have a ton of knick knacks though 🙂 your post really helped so thank you <3
Glad this post helped, Clo! I specifically wrote this for bookstagrammers who are hesitant to start because they don’t have all the beautiful props (like me when I started!)
Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction says
LOVE these ideas! Your pics all look beautiful! Unfortunately, I just don’t have an artistic eye, so my pics end up looking a little wonky no matter what I put in them, but these give me a little inspiration on things to try.
Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction recently posted…Book Box Subscriptions. Yay or Nay? Let’s Discuss.
You’re welcome, Nicole! I’m here to help! And thank you for your kind words! Also, I really want to encourage everyone to take photos!
Love these ideas! I’m so unartistic and very new to bookstagram, these ideas were very helpful. I love your pictures, they come out beautifully
Thank you, Amanda! I hope this will help you!
Lol i read through that… my bookstagram has died a little. Help!
DM me maot! I’ll help any way I can 🙂
Megan | Ginger Mom & Company says
Thank you so much for sharing this list! I am seriously trying to up my Bookstagram game this year (as my book photos currently suck). I’ll be using this list again and again 🙂 Happy reading!
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Thank you, Megan! I have a post on Monday for more Bookstagram tips!
Lin Meili says
Just got my paperback today and I was looking for how to make a cool layout for my books! Thanks for all the ideas. I can’t wait to use whatever props I can find around the house!