This reading slump really does need to stop soon. Not only am I still reading the same book I started in April (with a few stops to read other things along the way) but I’m entirely unmotivated when it comes to my Wednesday night bookish posts. It also doesn’t help that I’m having a terrible work week but we’ve reached that point where I need to go to bed but still haven’t got anything up on the blog. I genuinely don’t know what’s wrong with me. It takes me so long to get motivated to do anything. I’ve sat with WordPress open for ages but kept finding reasons not to start typing. Okay, I guess not having a subject matter is a pretty decent excuse for not writing. At one point I genuinely contemplated trying to write a post about how to deal with reading slumps but I quickly realised that if I knew how to deal with them then I wouldn’t be in one. So I scrapped that idea. I guess I’m just feeling a bit low all round right now. Even Bookstagram really isn’t giving me the same kind of joy that it once did. I wake up early on my days off to get ahead with my photos and lie in bed for hours instead of actually taking them. Apparently, these days taking loads of photos of books isn’t really top of my priorities list.
Although, Bookstgram has always been a bit of a weird one for me really. When I started all those years ago (December 2014) I had no idea what I was doing or even why I was doing it. I initially set it up so I would always be able to get a username to link to this blog. I’d had a personal account for ages before that but never thought I’d post anything. It wasn’t until Penguin books started a photo challenge that I decided to get going. I guess at the start I just didn’t know what to take photos of. So, as soon as someone told me what to do I was okay. I say okay but most of my photos were embarrassing. I’d been one of those kids who thought they were really into photography because I used to take pictures of sunsets or get really close to stuff. But, as I grew up, I realised I lacked any kind of skill or understanding.
Still, my sisters and I were all encouraged (although I’m not sure that’s the right word) to take photos growing up and it was something that had stuck with me. I mainly took photos of my friends. When I went to university, I was that one dickhead who took all the awful drunk photos when we went out. And, to put that into perspective, it was before the days that everyone had a fancy camera phone. So I was taking my digital camera with me on every night out. Suffice it to say that most of the snaps from that era that ended up on my Facebook page really don’t deserve to be there but it was the time. Facebook was still new and we were all too excited.
Other than obsessively wanting to document my university experience, I’d never really thought much about photography. I kind of wished I was good at it: probably in my cringey quest to become as indie as possible when I was younger. But also because the only time I took decent photos it wasn’t because I knew what I was doing. I remember one photo I took of my flatmate that I really loved that has fantastic lighting on one half of his face and shadow on the rest. It looked fucking amazing but it wasn’t as if I’d done it on purpose. I guess I’d have to describe my photography style at the time like the people who play Street Fighter by just mashing all the buttons together. Eventually you’re going to do enough to win. Just as I was eventually going to come up with something amazing if I constantly took thousands of photos of everything.
But from the end 2014 onwards, I was an official (if completely secret to my friends and family) Instagrammer. In the first few years I really didn’t post very much. I never knew what to do and I didn’t have the followers to really justify it. My posts were so uninspiring that it was best I posted once every few months to save face. It wasn’t until the last few years that I really started to give a shit about my account. I’d had a few successful photos, met some interesting people, and started to think about a career in digital marketing. I saw my account as a way to connect with people and as a portfolio of the kind of stuff I could do on social media. What surprised me, was how much I enjoyed it.
It could just be plain competitiveness or a need for attention but I genuinely care about creating something people will like. I want to create interesting and beautiful images and I want my captions to be funny or informative. I want my account to be useful and different. And, most importantly, I like taking pictures of books. Which I never saw as odd until my secret hobby became more public. In order to make my account a business account I needed to link it to Facebook. In doing so, and unbeknownst to me at the time, every one of my Facebook friends on Instagram got a recommendation to follow me. Most people didn’t, thankfully, but a few of them did. And it’s made me think about things.
You see, taking pictures of books is a bit weird. And I say that as someone who does still love taking photos of books. I dedicate so much of my spare time to doing it and to finding things to use for photos. It’s one of the things I’m most passionate about but it’s such a niche thing. It’s difficult to really explain to a non-bookish person. They don’t really get why anyone wants to look at other people’s books arranged artistically with various other props. Apparently, their Instagram feed is full of photos that aren’t full of bookshelves or bookish rainbows. Probably full of food pics or something but I’m not here to judge.
Still, it’s something that I guess I’ve always felt a bit weird about because I never talked about it. It was my secret thing that I didn’t want anyone else to know. But not, as I once believed, because I wanted to keep it for myself. It was because I didn’t know how to explain it to people. It all came to a head a couple of weeks ago when I did a quick outdoor photo shoot on my way home from work. I’d taken a bunch of Star Wars books and Funko Pop Vinyls with me to shoot near my house. It was early afternoon on a Friday so I thought it would be pretty quiet. I was so wrong. As I was scrabbling about in the trees arranging things and taking pictures, a few people walked past and were visibly scared by what I was doing.
And I know that it doesn’t matter because I’ll never see them again. It wasn’t so much that they’d seen me but more the fact that it just highlighted how unusual a thing it is. To me there can be nothing as normal as moving a book one millimetre at a time to find the perfect placement in my flatlay. But like so many people who have a weird hobby, it’s always a bit disconcerting to remember that it isn’t the norm. It’s not as if I’m going to stop any time soon. In fact, it’s highly likely that I’ll just get more obsessed with it.
In fact, I guess you could say that I only brought this subject up so I could post something today…