How to Photograph Books

We all like to take time out and submerge ourselves in a good book. So at iPhotography this got us thinking, is there any way we can show our appreciation to our favourite reads by photographing books?

Here are a few handy hints, tips, and creative ideas to get you on your way.

1. Never photograph books in artificial light

Just don’t do it guys. Even if your camera allows you to change the ISO and aperture and shutter speed settings. It’s something we wouldn’t recommend doing. Why I hear you ask?

Well, what’s the rush? The book will still be there tomorrow unless your library rental is close to expiry. Do the book justice and photograph using natural light. If you want some suggestions for creative reading then check out this guide. 

Photographing books under artificial light can cause several problems:

  • Firstly, it makes your book pages look yellow.
  • Secondly, the surface of your book will cause you to get those ‘blinding’ yellow/white spots that are caused by the reflective surface, which will effectively ruin your photo.
  • Furthermore, the colours of the book will not be true to their colour and shade.
  • Lastly, using a flash/ artificial light will make your photographs look almost unprofessional. The background will be too dark and the book will look fake. Make use of natural light to make the background look white and clean.
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2. Best Angles to Photograph Books

As we know angles are vital when shooting anything and can really affect the overall shot. There’s nothing wrong with taking a birds-eye view of a book or even straight on, but sometimes it can look slightly amateurish.

Additionally, if you don’t get the alignment or position off the book right, it throws everything off and causes the image to look wonky.

Take photographs from as many different angles as you can, as you would normally. The angle is vital when photographing books and you want it to be as visually exciting as possible and not just an unappealing heap of old books.

If you are photographing books, instead of taking pictures of them individually why not pile your books up, (not too many or it will be too chaotic and look more like a game of Jenga)? Place the books in a stack at different angles so it creates more dimension within the images.


3. Colour Co-Ordinate the Books

If you have a series or collection of books you wish to photograph, really think about the placement and order of them before you start shooting.

Start by sorting them into piles in order of colour: this will help bring together the entire photograph collectively so it doesn’t look messy and helps balance out the finished image.


4. Background is EVERYTHING!

Once you’ve arranged your books you need to find a background that is simple and not too distracting. White or cream, something soft or light should do it! Although you can use any colour in your shot as long as it’s one base colour, no rainbow prints, please.

This is because you need to make sure your viewers get the instant ‘ colour pop’ from the books and not the background, kind of defeats the point if your eyes are drawn to the background and not the books, doesn’t it?

Of course, if all your books are monochrome, you may choose to get your fix of colour in the background and incorporate it that way so the image isn’t bland and boring.


5. Editing Your Book Photographs

Editing is entirely up to yourself and what you feel comfortable doing. With this type of photography, it doesn’t require heap loads of editing anyway. Think of it like someone who’s pretty.

It’s the same with editing, just simple steps like adjusting the brightness if the natural lighting wasn’t strong enough that day or vice versa if you get a really sunny day and need to dim the lighting slightly. Or possibly adding a filter or playing with the saturation, little steps to give your image a nice finish.

Now you know the basics start to think about how you can really get creative with photographing books. Here are a few examples of how you can creatively photograph your book or simply use the book as a central object or point of focus within your images.

Maybe you love a good romance novel. Why not add flowers to enhance this? Or try creating heart shapes with the pages? You could even arrange your book stack and create heart shapes, really simple and effective!

Maybe you’re a big Harry Potter fan. Add a touch of magic to your images, try throwing books around and adjusting your shutter speed to give the illusion your books are truly magic.

On the topic of shutter speed, why not try playing with the pages to see what shots you can capture? These types of shots work really well with plenty of light and shade to add those key lines in your images.


6. Monochrome Book Photography

Perhaps you have some old vintage books. Well, why not enhance them with a filter such as Sepia? Or add vintage objects within your shot to enhance the theme.

Consider yourself a regular Mary Berry or Gordon Ramsey. Who says your favourite book can’t be a cookbook. Get cooking and creative at the same time, two birds and all that.

As mentioned before, creatively stacking your books, using a mix of colours, and a combination of creative lighting can be really powerful and striking.

Reading books with your children, an everyday must. Why not capture that magical atmosphere and get your children involved?

Whether you’re a book worm or not, you can use old stacks of books as objects or create new exciting ornaments, play around with composition and lighting to create new shapes… it may become a permanent household feature, you never know.

What’s a good book without a drink to go with it. After all it’s tradition isn’t it? Whether that be coffee or wine, why not photograph the environment in which you choose to read?

Are you partial to a read before bed?

However you choose to read or whatever genre you enjoy, try capturing the essence of that book and do it justice!

Don’t forget to upload your images to the gallery in iPhotography. We look forward to seeing how creative your bookworms have been.

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