Bookish DIY: Props for Book Photography

99 - Again the Magic

It’s no secret that I’ve developed a style for my book photography, and the base style is quick, simple, and boring. I know it is, because when I started reviewing, I was finishing the book, realizing I needed a photo of it to post, and doing the minimum work possible–which amounted to finding an article of clothing or piece of fabric that looked good with the book cover, setting the book on it at a slight angle, and shooting.

Seriously, it’s easy, and it looks decent, but it gets bland after a while.

I’d been making half-hearted attempts to do better from time to time, but at the end of last year, I decided to be more serious about it. First of all, I would do my best to incorporate more props to make the photos more interesting, and second–this is the key–I would take the photos ahead of time.

Since I organize my physical TBR (roughly) in advance of reading it, I know which books are coming up soon, so there’s no reason I can’t take advantage of an afternoon of good sunlight and take a bunch of pics at once, with props and time to lay it all out well, right?

So let’s take a look at some props I’ve been using, and in many cases making, to enhance my photos.

Stuffed animals. Maybe you don’t have any, but if you do, and their colors coordinate, or they go with your book thematically, you’ve got yourself a prop with no work.

Jewelry. Whether you’ve made it yourself or not.

Bookmarks. Obviously!

Food/Candy. Wrapped candy is great as small, individual objects to scatter. And whenever I make any kind of treat, now, I do my best to get it into a book photo before it’s gone.

Origami. Those book-page roses have featured in quite a few photos since I made them last fall, and this year I branched out and made a sectional star. The puffy stars I used for my original TBR jar are incredibly popular in the book photography I see on Tumblr and Instagram–I’m just not very good at them, really, and I don’t have a stock of brightly colored paper to work from. When I do, maybe I’ll try again.

Coffee Filter Flowers. I made the large white one with this tutorial, and it took me about six minutes, can’t beat that. The smaller, dyed one took a bit more work, but was totally worth it for the color. And if you look for them, there’s even more elaborate flowers to make, like dahlias, daffodils, and roses made from individual petals cut from the filters.

Real Flowers. I don’t have any examples of my own to share yet, we’re not a flower-buying or -growing household, and it’s winter, etc. But I have plans in the spring to pick wildflowers when I can. (There’s artificial flowers from the craft store, as well, if you don’t mind spending on them–I try to avoid buying props, preferring to use what I have or make from my existing craft stash.)

Mini lights. Again, nothing of my own to share, because I went to take a picture a few weeks ago with my Christmas lights, only to find out that between the time we’d taken the tree down, and getting them back out for a photo session, they’d stopped working. Next year, when I get new ones, we’ll see.

I hope I’ve given you some ideas to improve your own book photography, and of course, there are so many more ideas out there! If you’re looking to improve, pay attention to photos you like when you see them on social media, take notes, even save them for reference! (But reference only, don’t ever use them anywhere without permission!)

Get inspired and make stuff!

Bookish DIY: Holiday Ideas


Need tags for your gifts? Use old book pages! [tutorial here]


Mini Christmas trees made from paperbacks? Adorable. [tutorial here]


If my tree weren’t already groaning under the weight of my ornament collection, I’d be whipping out the glitter for these book-page ornaments right now. [tutorial here]

advent woven star tutorial

On the other hand, I think I need one of these hanging in my window. [tutorial here]


And if you need a cheap-but-fancy way to wrap small gifts, recycled book-page gift bags have got you covered. [tutorial here]

If I’d gotten around to making this post earlier, I would have included gift ideas from recycled books as well, but some of them are pretty darn elaborate, and last-minute crafting is an easy trap for even the best planners-ahead to fall into. Next year!

Bookish DIY: Bookends From Tea Tins

Bookend - Earl Gray Tin    Bookend - Cardamom Tea Tin

Or whatever tins you like, really. If you don’t drink tea, there’s Pirouline or other cookie tins, and you can usually find a wide variety of tins at thrift stores.

What you will need:

  • tin(s) of choice with lids
  • plastic bag(s)
  • rice

Bookend - Materials

You can use whatever type of bag you have handy–I use the cheap bread bags that come with twist ties, because I bake a lot and zip-top bags that big are expensive! But those would be fine too (you might have to squash the zipper down to get the tin to close) or you could even use plastic shopping bags, though I’d check them for holes first, they’re easily damaged.

Also, you don’t have to use rice–dried beans would work well, too, or anything heavy and cheap. You could use sand or dirt or gravel, if you wanted to head outside and scoop some up–but I had a lot of rice on hand, and if it spills on my carpet, it won’t be as hard to clean up as dirt would be.

Bookend - Process

As for the actual DIY part, it could hardly be easier. Open the tin, insert plastic bag, and fill’er up. Seal the bag shut (knot it, or use a twist tie, or zip it), tuck the top down and put the lid on. You’re done!

Bookend - Irish Breakfast Tea Tin



As in, I made some!  I needed a little light crafting, just a small project I could finish in an afternoon, because my fingers were feeling that itch but I wasn’t motivated enough to work on The Embroidery Project of Doom.  Which should be finished by Christmas, and probably won’t be.  (sigh)

I made these three following this tutorial, though the cards I was working with were smaller, so mine have fewer cuts.


These four are just scraps of fancy Japanese origami paper glued to card stock. The lighting doesn’t pick it up well, but they all have subtle gilding or light flocking in the patterns.


And these are bits of cards cut apart and glued back together in bookmark-shape. (I have a family member who’s obsessed with pretty stationery and paper, and she often gives one or both to me for Christmas.  I never actually use the stationery, because I’m not a diligent card-sender…so I’m happy I got to use some up to make these!)

Now, of course, I have more bookmarks than I need for myself, but they’d make great extras for giveaways, don’t you agree?  (/wink)