Okay, back when Instagram first hit, we all obsessed over filters. I liked just about every filter and tried them all out. So, let me be the first to say that I understand how fun they are—but it’s time to elevate and upgrade the photo quality.
If you’re selling books, quality images can show how much you care about your work and attract folks to your books. We still judge books by their covers, don’t we? Luckily for you, the decisions you make in this stage will make everything else super easy in the future.
Remember, the point of these tips is to help point to your brand, create a great first impression, stretch your creative skills, and stand out. Some people go all in and some don’t and still succeed. So, if you feel like design, art, and photography aren’t your forte, stick with easy suggestions and work up to more complicated or time-consuming things when you’re ready.
Get ready to learn basic photography skills to create sharper, more pleasing images.
Basic Lighting Tips
Any photo you share on Instagram should be crisp, sharp, and clear. This is the main reason why I don’t share memes or screenshots on my feed; I save them for Facebook or Twitter. However, if you don’t have a lot of photography skills, or feel like yours don’t match up to famous Instagrammers, you don’t have to go take classes to measure up—I promise!
Instead, take advantage of some basic lighting techniques.
The first skill is to know how to find good lighting. For example, I choose to take #bookstagram photos when it’s naturally sunny outside. I just open my blinds and let the sun do all the work. If the weather is permitting, I go outside for selfies. The lighting is usually natural and just what I prefer. I just step right outside my house, snap a photo, (or have someone else help) and share. Overcast weather makes for amazing selfie lighting and quality.
Basic Lighting Editing Tips
If the photo is darker than you’d like—or your new style favors brightly-lit photos—there are some easy tools to use to make the photos look consistent and cheery.
For all my non-stock photos, I either use the Edit feature on Instagram or use photo editing apps such as VSCO. For Instagram, I bypass the filters and go to Edit and play with Brightness, Highlights, and Shadows. You also won’t have to make dramatic changes if you’re already taking photos in proper lighting. If you tap your finger on the photo and hold down, you can see the original photo for comparison.
Choose Screen Grabs Over Laptop Selfies
When you want to share your writing updates, an easy photo idea is a quick photo of your computer screen. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to get the lighting of your screen to match the room lighting. You have to basically sacrifice one or the other—even if you’re taking the photo during the day.
Instead, I would recommend taking a screen grab. You can do it by pressing the “Print Screen” button on your keyboard; it’ll take a screenshot of your entire screen. You can crop the image to your liking. You can also use the snippet tool and manually select the part of your screen you want to share. Now, the #WIP shot is a bit clearer, the lighting is appropriate, and it’ll be easier to integrate into the rest of your Instagram feed.
Let Me Introduce You to Presets
If you want to make the same consistent changes with every photo and save yourself time, it’s time you learned about presets. Rather than memorizing how much you adjust the brightness, you’re essentially creating your own filter by saving the settings you like. Work!
Presets are a lifesaver that professional photographers use all the time when editing batches of hundreds of photos. Now you know! VSCO is just one of many apps that can help you create presets. I’ve provided a link to VSCO’s instructions for how to create and organize presets in the Resources section. With VSCO, you can edit photos on your phone, but you can also buy
If you don’t know where to start with creating your own preset and you don’t want to buy them, you can actually search for “recipes” on sites like Pinterest. You’ll notice that you still need to take photos with consistent colors or lighting; a preset can’t save terrible photography. But if you’re wondering how everyone else does it, now you know everyone’s little secrets.
Go with Your Own Style
Now that you know all of this, I hope you don’t feel overwhelmed or insecure about how you’ve done things in the past. Some people treat their feeds like a full-time job and thus have the time to take all these photos, plan out their aesthetic, and curate their content. If you would rather spend more time writing and selling, it’s totally understandable that you might not want to start buying everything in the same color or, feel like you’re becoming someone else. Just remember, your feed should only appeal to your niche audience. That’s why an author’s feed will look different from a Bookstagrammer’s feed.
Feel free to take notes on what others do that you like or don’t like. Please also be specific about why you like certain styles. Then, be bold and be you. Find some quality stock photos that draw your audience in and mix in some snapshots of your brand and your work.
Every time I scroll through my profile, I smile. I love the colors and the fonts and the overall big picture that I create with my feed. It’s not 100% perfect and planned like some others but I genuinely enjoy what I put out there. I hope that as you consider your photography and photo editing skills, you present something that you actually enjoy. It makes marketing on Instagram more fun!
- Find good, natural lighting—indoors or outdoors.
- Use screen grabs instead of taking pictures of your computer screen.
- Use professional tools such as presets for consistent lighting, mood, and quality.
- As always, observe what others are doing but go with your own style.
- Lightroom Presets via Creative Market
- How to Organize Your Presets & Tools via VSCO.com
- Free VSCO preset examples via Pinterest
- Free stock photos via Unsplash
- Where to find the Snipping Tool in Windows 10
- A Color Story
Read the Other Chapters
There you go! I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please give me your suggestions for what you’d like to see in future chapters. Or, tell me what I missed in this chapter; did you have more questions? Contact me or comment below. Thanks, friends!