3 DSLR Camera Settings for a Beautiful Bookstagram

Posted August 30, 2016 by lockhartbecca in Blogging Tips / 8 Comments

3 DSLR Camera Settings to Adjust for Beautiful Bookstagram + a free cheatsheet for your next photo shoot! - unboundpages.com

Bookstagram is the hottest thing in the book blogging world right now. Everyone is catching the bookstagram bug and that’s awesome! I caught it earlier this year and I’m now obsessed with it. My husband bought me the DSLR camera I had been asking for for Christmas last year and I use it all the time. It’s really changed the way I blog and it’s certainly changed the way I bookstagram. Now, I know not all of you have DSLRs, but for those that do, I wanted to share some of the settings I use on mine.


When I first got my camera I was shooting in automatic mode. Sometimes I would use the other fun filters, but manual mode? Hell no.

But then I realized how much more I could do with manual mode. My pictures could be so much better. And once I started learning, my Instagram engagement increased. I grew my following to over 500 in a matter of months. Now, I know that’s nothing compared to the big bookstagrammers out there, but I don’t think 500 followers is something to scoff at and I’m super proud of what I’ve done.


But where does one even start with manual mode? I’ve read lots of different articles on photography and for a non-photographer, they’re freaking confusing. They’re all so technical and overwhelming. Finally I just started playing with my camera. Once I got used to it, things started to make more sense so now I’ve decided to explain it in simple terms for the rest of the non-photographers out there. Here we go.


How to use the three main settings on your camera for a beautiful bookstagram: shutter speed, aperture and ISO.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is exactly what it sounds like. How fast does the camera take the picture? A slower shutter speed will let in more light, but if it’s too slow, your pictures will come out blurry. A faster shutter speed will let in less light, but you’ll get really sharp pictures.


Faster shutter speed is great for action shots. Slower shutter speed for still objects (like books) or if you’re using a tripod.


I shoot all my pictures inside so I keep my shutter speed between 20 and 25. If I go outside, I have to majorly increase that because the sun is blinding. But it’s pretty rare that I venture outside to take pictures. Unless a bookstagram challenge prompt forces me to… I’m not really an outdoorsy girl. I hate bugs.


Anyway… so if you take your photos inside near a window, a shutter speed of 20 to 25 should work well for you.



This one is a bit harder to explain for an amateur photographer like myself. Aperture is basically how open the lens of the camera is. You know how people take those really pretty pictures with an object up close in focus and the background all blurry? See below for an example. That’s done by adjusting the aperture. The higher the aperture number the less open your lens is so it will choose to focus on the object closest and blur the rest. The lower the aperture number, the more open your lens will be so it can focus on the bigger picture.


3 DSLR Camera Settings for a Beautiful Bookstagram + a free cheatsheet for your next photo shoot! - unboundpages.com

Aperture also effects lighting. The more open your lens, the more lighting you let in and vice versa. I normally keep mine around 6 when I shoot and then adjust it for various shots depending on what look I’m going for.



ISO is my favorite setting. It basically adjusts your camera’s sensitivity to light. A higher ISO will give you a brighter photo and vice versa. I like my photos to be pretty bright so I like to crank my ISO up. On a sunny day, I set mine to 200. On a cloudy day, sometimes I crank it up to 400. If I’m outside always on 100 (the lowest it can go).


Keep in mind the higher you crank the ISO up the less clear your photo will be because “sound” interferes with it. Don’t ask me to explain what “sound” the professionals are talking about. I don’t fully understand it. I just know that if I put my ISO up to 800, my photos come out a little grainy.


What if I don’t have a DSLR?

You can still shoot gorgeous pictures with your phone camera. In fact, there are tons of apps you can download that will let you adjust these settings right on your phone.

Here’s a list of 12 camera apps for Android and here’s one for iphone. Some of these are free and some are paid, but for $5? If you can’t afford a DSLR these are some great alternatives.


There are also tons of free photo-editing apps and software you can use to get the same effects post-photo taking. I use Picmonkey to edit all my pictures. It’s super easy to use and allows me to add my watermark right in the edit screen. They just came out with an app too so you can do this right from your phone!


So there you have it! The three settings I adjust to take gorgeous bookstagrams explained for the non-photographer to understand. Still looking for more bookstagram tips? Check out my post on how to create a beautiful bookstagram!


Want a cheat sheet to remember all this? I thought so. Download one by filling in the info below and I’ll send you a cheat sheet that breaks down what all of this means so you can quickly reference it while shooting your next round of bookstagrams!



Want to use your bookstagram to create gorgeous graphics? Sign up for my free course by filling in your info below!


Do you use a DSLR to shoot your bookstagrams? Are you shooting on manual mode or automatic? What are some of your favorite settings to adjust?

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8 responses to “3 DSLR Camera Settings for a Beautiful Bookstagram

    • lockhartbecca

      Yay!! Once you get the hang of it, you’ll see a crazy difference in your photos. They just come out so much nicer. And there’s this sense of pride when I shoot in manual mode. Like I’m legit. Lolol

    • lockhartbecca

      Yay! I’m glad it was helpful! Once I got used to the manual settings it made such a difference in my photos. Now I refuse to shoot anything on automatic. Lol

  1. I’m looking to get a DSLR. What camera do you use? Do you have any recommendations, especially any that might fit a little easier into a college student budget?

    • lockhartbecca

      I have a Nikon D3300 I believe. I really love it. It’s easy to use and helped me as a beginner figure out how to shoot on manual mode. It is a little pricey though at $496, although from what I’ve seen that’s actually not too bad for a DSLR. Also keep in mind you’ll want to buy a memory card, possibly a 2nd battery (this is one thing I want to get badly) and a bag for it. I only have the one lens right now, but I’ll probably get more in the future. I decided it was an investment for my blog (added bonus that I can use it in real life as well) and saved and saved until I could swing it. As far as other cameras go, this is my first DSLR so unfortunately I can’t really recommend anything else. Let me know what you end up getting!!

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