At Sheffield we made the best of the balmy weather and trialled the Photo Safari, where our storytellers went out and about to collect images relating to specific themes. The activity was designed to help reinforce how images could be used to evoke emotions, and to tell their own stories.
In the stories from all three workshops so far, images of books have been used a LOT, often to illustrate what the physical book gives us that the digital can’t. We’ve noticed from the workshops that thinking about the digital seems to be igniting new interest in books as objects, and the way we love handling, arranging, looking at and even sniffing them!! Perhaps, like endangered species, we take images of books to help us celebrate and preserve them and the roles they play in our lives…
I’ve been thinking a lot about this in relation to Bookstagramming, a phenomenon that has emerged on the social media platform, Instagram. #bookstagram currently has over 14 million posts (!) and has also generated its own subgenres, for example ‘booksinsitu’, where people capture images of the book they’re currently reading in the place where they’re reading it.
Sometimes bookstagrammers provide a narrative on the background to the image, or the significance of the book in their lives. Sometimes they provide a review. Sometimes they let the image speak for itself.
Many of the images almost seem to capture the act of reading, as the book is held up to the camera as though the viewer is reading it, or the moment of turning or bookmarking a page is shared. This is of course about sharing – as with online book clubs or Twitter’s #amreading, what the digital seems to make visible perhaps as never before, is reading as a social activity, something that we want to share with others.
So far images of ereaders (in this case the Kobo) are very much a rarity. Maybe this is because they’re not terribly photogenic, and are seen as more functional than the physical book, which is often pictured alongside food, tea/coffee, cats (sometimes all three) or in locations suggestive of leisure and pleasure (candles feature quite a lot).
Would love to hear from anyone who is a bookstagrammer, or anyone who has images of books of this kind predating the social media era. Would also love to hear people’s thoughts on why this seems to be such a popular activity, particularly now in the so-called digital era.