Off the Page: Andrew “britbookboy” Mitchell

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Here’s your chance to get behind the scenes with fanartists who bring your favorite young adult books to life.

Andrew Mitchell, who posts on Instagram under the handle britbookboy, is a book lover and photographer who lives just north of London.

“I work in an archive that houses thousands of historic documents and books, it’s the ideal place for a bibliophile to spend their days,” said Mitchell. “When I’m not at work or spending time with my friends and family you can guarantee I’ll have my head buried deeply in a book. Some of my favourite YA books include Red Rising by Pierce Brown, The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, the Shadowhunter books by Cassandra Clare and Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes. Harry Potter tops them all, of course.”

What encouraged you to start sharing your photos?
After first stumbling across the Bookstagram community on Instagram through my personal account, I was taken aback by how many other people felt the same level of enthusiasm for reading that I did. I’ve always been a visual thinker and had a keen interest in photography, so discovering a place to post my thoughts and passion for books in a forum that capitalises on this was all the encouragement I needed to start sharing my photographs.

What is it about books that inspired your photography?
After spending more time focused on the visual aspect of books through my photography I’ve developed a deeper appreciation for the overall design that‘s involved in building a novel’s visual representation. I believe the right designers can elevate a book from being simply a stack of bound pages with a commercially viable image on the front into a piece of artwork like any other. This is what inspires me to do justice to these beautiful books and attempt to photograph them in the most interesting and striking way I’m able to.

What was the best reaction you’ve received?
Some of the most positive reactions have been to photographs of my bookshelves. It’s wonderful to read people’s thoughts on the books I own and how I’ve arranged them. Books connected to a fandom, such as Harry Potter, are also prone to elicit the most fun and engaging responses from my followers.

What’s your process?
My process tends to be fairly spontaneous. I’ll either have a book in mind to photograph or I’ll spot a texture or setting that immediately brings a certain cover or genre to mind. From there I’ll experiment with the angles I take the shots from, the arrangement of the books, the lighting and shadows I can capture, and the settings on my camera to get a shot I’m satisfied with. The environment around me and how the book sits with it is the most integral part of my process.

Do you have any tools you like to work with?
Because I only take pictures using natural lighting and backdrops that are already there I don’t need any tools during a shoot beyond my camera. For my editing process I use the iPhoto app on my MacBook to make subtle alterations like cropping and adjusting the lighting if it’s required. I like my photographs to look as natural as possible so I avoid editing them too much or using any filters.

What photo are you most proud of?
I recently took a shot of the all the published Shadowhunter books by Cassandra Clare using a reflective surface which I thought was quite striking in its simplicity. I’m also quite proud of a photograph I recently took of my bookshelves as getting the lighting just right for the shot required a fair bit of patience!

What books would you like to photograph and haven’t yet?
There are several series of books that are only halfway through publication that I’m desperate to photograph all together. There will be something deeply satisfying about taking shots of a completed series such as Throne of Glass or The Bone Season, especially as there will be several books in each once they’re wrapped up.

What kind of advice or insight would you give to other photographers?
I’m by no means an expert in the field, but the best advice I could give to other photographers is always be willing to experiment and think outside the box. Anything can make for a striking photograph if it’s utilised in an interesting way. Also never settle for the first shot you take. A teacher once told me that you can take a hundred photographs and only one will truly capture the atmosphere and composition you were aiming for. Being a slight perfectionist myself that’s something that has always stayed with me.

 

For more on Andrew “britbookboy” Mitchell, follow him on Twitter or Instagram.

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About Author

Nicole Brinkley

Nicole is the editor of YA Interrobang. She has short hair and loves dragons. The rest changes without notice. Follow her on Twitter at @nebrinkley or Tumblr at nebrinkley. Like her work? Leave her a tip.

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