8+ creative ways to use books in watch photography

@watchstudies on Instagram

I’ll admit, I’ve never been a big book reader. But throw me a hardcover with photos and graphics and you may lose me for a few hours. One such book that never seems to stay on my bookcase very long is The Design Hotels Book (2020 Edition). Travel, architecture, interior design, and photography all beautifully chronicled in one hardcover bible of eye candy? A hundred times yes.

But today’s tutorial isn’t about that book specifically, but rather about books and their place alongside watches. As it turns out, both seem to leave me (and surely others) in a state of hypnosis, ogling longingly at every tiny detail while lost in a daze of wonder. Watches and books go well together is what I’m trying to say.

This is no doubt why the two photograph so well together, too. So today, I thought I’d spend some time looking at how to incorporate one of my favorite props into your watch photography. This week’s tutorial is less of a how-to, and more of a reference point for ideas on how to create a #watchesandbooks shot (is that a thing?). Either way, it’ll surely leave you with another shot style for your arsenal. Enjoy!

This week’s challenge

Time to dust off your favorite titles and pair them with your watches! Let’s see your most creative book shots! As always, tag your work with #watchstudies to share them with the community. I’ll also be highlighting my favorites in my next monthly features segment.

Watches and books: a love story

There are a handful of creative ways to add books to your watch photos. The key is to do it in a way that doesn’t steal focus from the watch, but instead, visually adds some interesting detail that can help you complete the story. Let’s look at a few approaches!

1. Overlay the watch on a book cover

Sometimes it’s totally okay to judge a book by its cover. If you’ve got a great book with a beautifully designed cover, flaunt it! Simplicity paired with subdued tones will probably work best, as anything noisy in detail and color may steal attention away from your focal point.

What works great about a cover shot is that the book can also act as a great way to frame the watch, like in this shot using everyone's favorite ubiquitous watch book.

@watchstudies on Instagram

2. Frame the watch with book spines and edges

Another great way to use books in your watch shots is by using their spines or edges to frame the watch. If you recall my flatlay tutorial, you may remember the “diamond” technique, which books are great for. And if you’re looking to add more depth to your shot, just stack a few books!

@watchstudies on Instagram

3. Use a spread with contrasting colors

Let your watch shine by contrasting it against a black and white spread. In this overhead shot, I really wanted to emphasize the vibrancy of the blue dial on my Black Bay 36 so I paired it with a grayscale photo.

@watchstudies on Instagram

4. Use a spread with complementary colors

Find a spread with tones that are complementary to each other. Here, I’ve chosen one that features blue tones on one side and orange tones on the other, mirroring the effect of the Black Bay 36’s dial against my skin tone. I’ve mentioned in a few past tutorials that blue and orange are complementary colors, which is why they always work well together.

@watchstudies on Instagram

Here’s another example of the blue from the pages complementing the orange tones from my skin and the BB58’s gilt details.

@watchstudies on Instagram

5. Use a spread with uniform colors

For this shot with the 007 Edition of the Seamaster, I’ve chosen a set of pages that mimics the same black and yellow tones found on the watch. I actually think I did it subconsciously (it took someone on Instagram to point it out for me to realize it) but I think the effect works quite well still!

@watchstudies on Instagram

6. Find thematic content

If you want to be really clever with your book shot, you can find pages that feature content that relate to the watch you’re showcasing. Pair a diver with an ocean shot or a GMT with a travel shot, for example. Bonus if you can leverage any visible text to add to your thematic photo.

@verowatchcompany on Instagram

7. Create interesting angles

A visually fun way to use a book in a photo is to get up close and use its lines to introduce a dynamic angle. In this shot (which might’ve been my first book shot ever), I use the center binding to cut diagonally across the frame. It not only adds a bit of directionality but also grabs your attention by introducing something visually unexpected.

@watchstudies on Instagram

8. Flip some pages

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: flatlays don’t need to be flat! One of the best ways to add more depth to a flatlay book shot is to use the pages. Catching a shot while mid-flip heightens the dimensionality while also introducing a sense of motion. Bonus points if the imagery on the back side of the page complements the rest of the shot.

@watchstudies on Instagram

@watchstudies on Instagram

More inspiration for book shots

For good measure, here's a small collection of some of my favorite book shots found around the community.

@onceuponatimepieceBy @onceuponatimepiece

@enjoythewatchesBy @enjoythewatches

@this.is.watchableBy @this.is.watchable

@ladieswristBy @ladieswrist

@watchesinnatureBy @watchesinnature

@katshouldersBy @katshoulders

@lar5erikBy @lar5erik

@mainichi_watchBy @mainichi_watch

@average_guy_horologyBy @average_guy_horology

Your turn!

Time to dust off your favorite titles and pair them with your watches! Let’s see your most creative book shots! As always, tag your work with #watchstudies to share them with the community. I’ll also be highlighting my favorites in my next monthly features segment.

Thank you for joining this week's Sunday Study Club! I can't wait to see what you'll create this week!

PS: If you made it this far, drop a 📖 in the comments of today’s post to let me know!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.