National Selfie Day is June 21, and we’re celebrating with shelfies. For those new to bookstagram, a shelfie is a picture of your bookshelf. But what makes for a great shelfie?

As with all photography, lighting is everything. If you can’t see the subject of your photograph properly, what was the point of taking the photo? Natural lighting works best, of course, but with a shelfie that may be hard to get, unless your bookshelf happens to be near a window. Soft lights, like from a lightbox, provide a similar effect, but it’s a bit of an investment. Overhead lights are usually sufficient, but lamps are usually to be avoided—they tend to cast shadows. And do not use a flash. If the room you are shooting in is dark enough that you need a flash, the flash will be too harsh a light.

We actually did a whole post about bookshelf organization, but not all organization techniques are created equal. While arranging alphabetically or by genre may be the easiest to find a book, it’s not necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing. Arranging by color or height could make for a really cool shelfie.

Beyond books, what is on your shelf? Some people choose to decorate to create an aesthetic or show their personality. For example, some people might include fairy lights or photographs, others might include potted plants or action figures. Still others might add an accent with jars and vials. Some might even wrap their books or props in ribbons, lace, or burlap to help evoke a specific style or vibe.

How tight do you want the shot? Do you want to feature just a small section, a whole shelf, or the entire book case? Do you want the wall behind the book/bookcase? Should it be straight on, or would taking the photograph at an angle work better? These are all things you should consider before even pulling out your camera. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t experiment once you’ve pulled it out, but knowing what you’re going for will help you stage the shot and know when you’ve got the right one.

Getting the Shot
Don’t be afraid to take multiple nearly identical shots of your bookshelf—you’ll want to have choices. You may notice that in one shot you moved slightly and thus the image isn’t as clear, or that a cloud passed by, blocking the sun and changing the lighting. Having options gives you more assurance that the shot you imagined is in your camera roll.

Long gone are the days when people simply took a photograph and posted it somewhere. With easy editing on apps like Instagramor ColorStory, and larger accessibility to professional editing software like PhotoShop, there’s nothing to stop you from making your shelfie look better in post-production. You can adjust the lighting, the coloring, the sharpness—you can even add a filter to enhance your aesthetic even more.

Any other tips for taking a stellar shelfie? Let us know below!