Booked Up

Parents and children.

Reading on the grass

Writing recently about a decrease in vacation time among the world’s travelers for ’09, I have been keeping my eyes out for what the trend watchers think we will be doing in our downtime and what visual opportunities this will offer. I was surprised to learn that reading a book is gaining in popularity even as some publishers are in trouble. One publisher has launched a vid on YouTube for the Christmas season with celebrities stating why a book is a good gift. One says, “A book is a great gift because you don’t have to plug it in.”

An upsurge in reading is somewhat bewildering to me, as two major US book publishers have announced layoffs, on the heels of big city newspapers closing or having major circulation downturns and with the news from the magazine world that is as about as dismal as it gets. And yet the idea of reading a good book by a cozy fire is about as comforting an image that there is for a lot of people. (A cold dark fireplace in an image isn't a good idea as it comes across as looking like a black hole. Try to have a fire going when you feature a fireplace in your images)

Woman sitting in living room by fireplace

Reading a book

Studies show that children that are read to at an early age, tend to be more successful students in later years. Today’s babies are constantly overly stimulated with electronic stuff that moves, whistles and plays music. Hopefully some parents haven’t abandoned traditional bedtime stories all together.

Why create pictures of books and readers? In times of uncertainty, visuals have tended to hark back to the past, giving a sense of security and peacefulness to ads and articles. Reading groups are growing in popularity as individuals seek to connect with their neighbors and like-minded friends for inexpensive gatherings. While it is true that some young adults prefer Tweets and online sources of information, even that demographic is reading. Literacy rates in many countries are 99% while computer literacy lags way behind. Increasingly, people are turning on their computers to read the news and to the convenience of electronic book readers.

Night time reading

Family reading.

A recent news story reported that there is a surge in library usages. All over the U.S., as disposable income diminishes, people are turning not only to books for entertainment but to the free services that public libraries offer.


Don’t show a recognizable cover on a book as it is copyrighted. On the other hand don’t create a completely blank cover, as that is not authentic. Play around with Photoshop and create a fake cover or place the book downward facing so that the cover isn’t visible in your shot.

Don’t create images where the pages of the book can be read.

In addition to the more common illustrations of reading by a fire or in a comfortable chair, show reading in unusual places such as in the bathtub.

Boy studying a map

Reading under skylight

(If your model drops the book in the water, you can freeze the book in a plastic bag and then knock out the ice to save the book-thanks to my favorite bookdealer for the tip.)

Books make great props. I remember a shoot for a ‘girls night out’ that included the women staged as if they were part of a book club.

Contrasts in images create visual interest. The image of the boy reading a map in front of a turned off TV is good examples as it illustrates even the young sometimes turn off the TV and computer in favor of print.

Your main goals are to show the concepts of comfort, security, entertainment and learning.

I know I promised that I was finished with Christmas concepts but couldn’t stop myself from using the image of Santa READING his list!

Santa Checking His List

Magic book

The image of stars flowing out of a book captures the magic and creativity found in reading a good book. I think I'll curl up with one now.

Ellen Boughn
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  • Ellenboughn
  • Bainbridge Island, United States
I have written a about microstock photography released in 2010. I was the Director of Content at Dreamstime for two years ending in Feb, 2009. You can order my book from amazon via my website at

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December 23, 2008

Good tips. Thanks


December 22, 2008

As always great article, great tips! Happy Holidays!


December 21, 2008

great ideas in this blog for photo shoots, thanks for the tips! Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year also!


December 18, 2008

Darolyn...yes I'm a reader. I met my husband...the favorite bookdealer listed a bookstore. As for the keywording problem remember if you enter young adult as separate words those searching for "young adult' will find your image without the two words being bracketed.


December 18, 2008

You are an excellent writer which also proves YOU are an avid reader. Not to belabor a query but I have a follow-up question to your reply (Dec. 15) to Dec 14 request regarding a solution in keywording. It involved bracketing two-word phrases. Bradcalkins (Nov. 20) and I both provided examples - bracketing [young adult] describing teen (Bradcalkins) and [selective focus] describing shallow depth of field (Darolyn). In either case, the keywords by themselves are irrelevant. Any specific suggestions for the problem?


December 18, 2008

I'm happy books are making a 'comeback'. I love reading a good book and hope my kids do too. While e-books have their place, there is something about a paper book that engages the senses to another level, and encourages you to share the books themselves. Thanks for the article!


December 17, 2008

I have found that with my Kindle (Amazon's e-reader) I read a lot more than I used to, especially when traveling. Reading engages my imagination more than any movie or TV show. I'm sure that showing the Kindle in photos would be verboten, but maybe there is some way to show e-readers.


December 17, 2008

Another great read, Ellen. It's fascinating how reading paper books is still in fashion. Many predicted its end, especially with internet era. Thanks for using my images!


December 17, 2008

Thank you! I love reading! But I hadn't thought about taking pictures of it!


December 17, 2008

I liked very much this article, and like all the other times it made me think on the subject.
This subject is very much inspiring, but i think in still lifes is very difficult to have pages that are not readable.


December 17, 2008

Wow thanks to you for your blog and thanks to your book dealer too for the trick he told about saving a wet book!