Today I caught up with Lauren, the photographer behind the lens at @fictiontea, to talk bookish pics, Insta tips and fave reads.
Lauren takes beautiful pics themed around her current and favourite reads, and each image gives a little taste of what the reader will find between the covers. She also writes lovely captions with updates about what she’s been up to, reading recs and news about forthcoming titles. Here’s just a sample of her gorgeous feed:
Lauren, thanks so much for joining me! Can you start by sharing a little about yourself: Where are you from? What do you when you’re not on Insta? How did you get into bookstagramming?
Of course! Well, my name is Lauren, and I’m from Glasgow, which is the biggest city in Scotland.
When I’m not on Instagram, or swamped in University work I love to go to the book store, go out with friends to shop or have dinner and see a movie, or taking pictures for my bookstagram. However, when I’m having a chilled out day indoors, you will probably find me binge watching TV shows or movies, experimenting with makeup as that is one of my other passions aside from books, doing some DIY crafts or, of course, reading.
I first got into bookstagramming when I came across a bookstagram account on Instagram’s explore page. This girl had the most incredible, colourful and creative photos that inspired me to begin building my own account. Once I had invested in a good quality camera, FictionTea was born.
Can you tell us a bit about your Insta account: What inspires your posts? Do you have a particular aesthetic or theme? Has your account changed/developed over time?
I get inspiration constantly from the tonnes of beautiful photos that are posted onto Instagram everyday by the book community. Usually when a new book comes out, the cover will inspire me. I must give credit to my little sister here, because when I’m stuck for inspiration she really helps me out and you can usually find her posing in a lot of my photos.
I wouldn’t say my account has a theme, I just try to make my photos look as natural as possible. However, I edit all my photos the exact same way so I guess that counts as a theme. The aesthetic of my account has changed a lot since I began my account. If you go to the very bottom of my feed, you will find that I go through phases of taking all my photos on a hallway table and then I changed my background to white sheets. Now I take my pictures everywhere and anywhere. Whatever feels right.
What camera(s) and editing software (if any) do you use for your pics?
The camera I use is a Nikon D5300 paired with an awesome Nikkor lens my dad found for me. When editing my photos, since I try to keep them as natural as possible I only adjust the Contrast, Brightness, Saturation and Fade sliders on the VSCOcam app.
If I am editing a post with text, then I will use Photoshop beforehand then take it into VSCO.
How often do you post and do you plan posts in advance, or are they more spontaneous?
I post almost every day. If I’m busy with University assignments it will usually differ between every 2 – 3 days.
I do tend to plan posts in advance, but not in great detail. I just make a list of photos I want to take and then add some sidenotes if I believe a certain book or accessory should be included in the photo. I’d say my most planned posts are the ones featuring newly released and highly anticipated books. I tend to have those planned weeks in advance just from excitement.
What do you think makes a good post?
In my personal opinion, a good post embodies a lot of different things. I think having a good setup really helps, such as a good quality camera, good lighting, a cosy looking or fun place to take your photos.
Of course, you don’t need these to make a good post. Just expressing yourself, your bookshelf or your favourite place to read through an iPhone or smartphone photo can really communicate your passion for reading. Also, in the captions of your photo, just be yourself. I know that sounds incredibly cliché, but being yourself and writing a small caption expressing what the photo is about, or what your thoughts and opinions are on that particular book, really helps make your post a good one.
What do you love most about being part of the bookstagram community?
I love how genuine everyone is. Every person in the book community is more than happy to be themselves and express their own opinions. The community is just so nice as well. I would go as far to say that bookstagram is one of the kindest online communities there is. The bookstagram community is incredibly comforting too in the sense that, you can rant and rant about your favourite book and people understand, and they listen.
I have made a lot of friends through bookstagram too, really good friends that I love talking too daily. Sometimes do fun exchanges like sending each other books and some sweets from our countries, or a funko etc, and that’s always fun.
Is there anything you’d like to see change/improve in the community?
Recently there have been a few accounts stealing other people’s photos without giving credit to them. I believe this really needs to be stopped. People have put time and effort into their photos and for someone to take them as post them as their own, it’s incredibly aggravating. Other than that, I would change nothing.
Who are some of the bookstagrammers who inspire you?
Oh gosh, where do I begin?
Calista from @insidethebookreader: This is the account that I mentioned in the first question, and is probably the account that inspires me the most. Her photos are flawless and so incredibly creative. We’ve become great friends over the past year, I know how much work she puts into her photos and it always shows. She will always be my original inspiration to join Bookstagram. Also, she was featured next to John Green on a post about top book blogs you need to follow. If that doesn’t make you want to check out her account, then I don’t know what will!
Christine from @weereader: We live not too far from each other and meet up to go buy some books and have lunch on a regular basis. She’s such an honest and lovely person. I can always trust her book recommendations, and she writes brilliant book reviews. Christine is incredibly motivational too, she helps me get out of reading slumps and her dedication is something that really inspires me. She also inspires me to stay true in my posts.
Lauren from @bookwormboutique: This girl is amazing, she inspires me daily by showing that if you work hard, you can achieve anything. Lauren started her account after me and has worked her way up to being one of the most well-known accounts by providing all us book lovers with some awesome bookish merchandise and gorgeous paper foil bookmarks.
Allissa from @abookishloveaffair: Her posts truly are truly gorgeous. A lot of her posts inspire me to take more cosy looking photos. Her photos are super damn cosy looking. One glance at Allissa’s photos will make you want to stop what you’re doing, go put on some warm socks, make some tea, light a candle and grab your current read. There has been multiple times where I have been in a reading slump and Allissa’s photos helped me get back into reading again. Also her mug and tea cup collection is goals.
Tracey from @youngadultbookaddict: This account I have been following since I started my own. Tracey’s account inspired a lot of pictures in the beginning and one of the first people I started talking to in the comments. Her photos are also incredibly cosy looking and she has some of the best bookshelf pictures. I wish to have bookshelves like hers someday! Tracey is also an incredibly kind, sweet person, I love to comment on her photos whenever I can.
Some other accounts that inspire me are:
All of these accounts are truly worth checking out. They are simply amazing.
What kinds of books do you like to read?
I absolutely love to read; Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Fairytale retellings, Historical Fiction and Contemporaries. Fantasy is my favourite genre though, it really helps your imagination thrive and your mind truly wanders into the world of the book you’re reading.
What are three key things you look for in a good story?
The first major thing I believe makes a good story is good characterisation, this involves seamless character development too. For me personally, the characters are what make a good story.
Secondly, detailed and effective world building. Once you have your good characters, you need a world for them to live in.
And lastly, a good plot. Something that grabs you from page one. A plot with twists you never seen coming. Something unique.
What do you love most about reading, and why do you believe reading is important?
I love reading because it truly allows me to escape from reality. In books you can do anything. It lets my imagination flow and meet no ends. I can’t express my love for reading more than, I just love it. It helps me pick up when I am down, it helps me explore other worlds when I am bored. Reading is just amazing, it’s as simple as that!
I believe reading is important, because it helps your mind grow and develop. I have a few quotes that I believe tells us about the importance of reading.
“You may have tangible wealth untold; caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be. I had a mother who read to me.” —Strickland Gillian
“Once you learn how to read, you will be forever free.” —Frederick Douglass
“We read to know we are not alone.” —C.S. Lewis
What’s been your favourite read so far this year?
I couldn’t possibly chose one favourite from this year.
So far my top favourites are: Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes.
A Gathering of Shadows by VE Schwab.
And I am currently reading Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare which I am enjoying immensely, so no doubt that will be another favourite.
What five books should everyone reading this add to their TBR pile?
Whenever I get asked this question, I give my list of top five books. Numbers two through to five change a lot. But my number one always remains the same. It is my favourite book of all time. And I spread the word about it whenever I get the chance.
- The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (Ongoing series)
- Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (Ongoing series)
- A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab (Ongoing series)
- A Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Ongoing series)
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Standalone)
What advice would you give to new bookstagrammers?
Advice I would give to new bookstagrammers:
- Be yourself.
- Post your own photos regularly.
- Be honest in your posts and any reviews.
- To get your username recognised a little more, comment on other people’s photos and do some book tags.
- Don’t make bookstagram a chore. If you’re feeling as if a reading or inspiration slump is coming on, don’t force yourself to post or read. You won’t enjoy it as much, and you don’t want that! Everyone has these slumps, they come and they go. Promise!
And finally, where else can we find you talking books?
You can find me in these other places:
If you haven’t yet, pop over to @fictiontea, say hi to Lauren and see what she’s reading on Instagram.
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