You’ve probably seen them on social media. Artsy photos of books arranged in such a way to pique your interest. Perhaps the books have been stacked to resemble a Christmas tree. If there is a person present in the photo, their well-manicured hands look ready to become Hollywood models. Sometimes, the photos are merely a stack of books. I find myself zooming in to see if I have read any of the titles shown.
I am amazed at the extravagant photo sessions on Instagram by Shaley @ 2reador2write. With so much staging of props and coordinating clothing to match book covers, I don’t see how she has any time to read OR write!
Prompted by the desire to create some clickbait of my own, I recently took my books out for a photo session.
I chose books to match the colors of fall and carefully packed them into my weathered backpack. I picked the ones I loved and the titles I hoped would attract readers in the same genre I am currently writing (this is where the clickbait comes in).
After traveling to our beautiful local state park for my first ever photo shoot, I learned three things:
First, people stare at you when you unpack seven books and begin stacking them in odd places like stone fences and bridges. Luckily, no one asked me why I was taking pictures of books. I’m not sure I could have explained myself, especially to people who aren’t avid readers.
Secondly, books are not built for the great outdoors. The paper dust jackets scraped against stone rock faces and absorbed any moisture nearby, natural or otherwise. By the end of the photo shoot, I handled them as if they were explosives to mitigate any scuffs or stains.
Lastly, my books took on a life of their own in each setting. I realized after taking this photo that each book connected to the setting. Can you guess how?
West with Giraffes wouldn’t hold still for photos atop the Triple Arch Bridge. My grandfather helped build this bridge as a CCC enrollee during his time at the park. His daily work journal indicates he drove many loads of stone, cement, sand, and even dynamite to and from the Bridge during its construction. The wind kept whispering through the pages and I couldn’t help but feel connected to him standing on the bridge.
I may not have been carrying dynamite like my grandfather but I did experience a considerable degree of anxiety during this shoot. In the end, I believe it was worth it.