I have seen a number of book bloggers lament that they feel they cannot fully participate on Instagram because they don’t own bookshelves full of the latest hardcover releases. Some have even expressed discomfort or reluctance to use library books because it’s just not the same. I admit that library books do present obstacles in photographs, but I use the library a lot, and library books make up at least half of my Instagram feed.
I do own a decent number of books, and I don’t want to give the false impression that I don’t. (See below.) However, many of these are gifts or books purchased for classes or used books from various sources. I don’t spend hundreds of dollars on books each year, and I don’t own a lot of the latest releases. I go to the library a couple times each month, and the library books I read are often the books I feature on Instagram.
Library books, of course, usually have those clear book covers to protect the jackets, and they are extremely reflective of light. This is inconvenient if you’re using a flash or if you’re photographing in bright sunlight. There’s also the awkward issue that sometimes the book cover reflects back your face and the image of you holding your camera.
To solve some of these issues, I try to use bright surrounding lighting and turn off the flash on my camera; the photo can always be edited later to make it a little brighter if necessary.
I also take pictures from various angles and try to make sure my face isn’t positioned directly above the book.
Sometimes, the light is difficult to deal with completely. Since I’m not trying to cultivate a perfect Instagram feed, sometimes I just accept it. For instance, there’s a strong glare on this image, but a lot of people still like the photograph because of the beautiful colors of the leaves.
There are only two approaches to the stickers on the spine: embrace them or attempt to hide them. In the best-case scenario, the sticker is only on the spine and isn’t so large that it wraps around to the front cover. In that case, if you don’t want to show the sticker, you can take photos that only show the front of the book.
If the sticker does extend past the spine, you can crop the photo to remove the bottom portion of the book.
However, in my personal opinion, library stickers aren’t a problem, and they don’t get in the way of the “perfect” photo. I think you can take a photo of the book from any angle and show off the book with pride.
What about you? Do you routinely photograph library books for Instagram? Do you notice when others do? Do the stickers on the side ruin the photos for you?