How to improve flat lay photography

Do you need to improve your flat lay photography?

You only need to scroll a few images down on Instagram before you stumble upon beautiful flat lay images which look effortless. They are a beautiful way of telling a story about a product or a feeling but it can be a fine art between getting it right and looking like you dropped a load of items on the floor and took a photograph. Below I have put together a few quick tips to instantly improve flat lay photography.

Improve Flat Lay Photography


Murals Wallpaper

Having the right background makes a huge difference to your image. The right background can mean the difference between your subject standing out or blending in. There are lots of places where you can buy specific photography backgrounds, but I prefer to use wallpaper samples as they can be longer and more flexible than a piece of board. Wallpaper samples like the ones I use from Hovia can be draped over boxes and across tabletops when standing products up for a seamless background.

Cornerstone Shave Gifts

When choosing the right background for your images, people tend to prefer light colours like white marble, wooden floorboards, or white brickwork. That said, don’t be afraid to experiment with colour too. I love the images I captured with coloured wallpapers.


Improve Flat Lay Photography

Good lighting is an essential part of photography; it can make or break your image. Try positioning your subject close to a window to get natural daylight and use light reflectors on grey or wintry days. Light reflectors are so lightweight you can easily hold them in one hand to direct the light source where you need it. Don’t be afraid to place the light source behind your products for a different look.

Sokani X21

I sometimes use a Sokani X21 LED Light, which can be used with coloured gels for an artistic feel to the images. This was a very inexpensive kit I found on Amazon. It comes with a cold shoe to attach to your camera, a carry pouch, and a selection of coloured gel sheets.


Improve Flat Lay Photography

When choosing props, think about items that help convey the story. Props can bring personality and energy to your images. Charity shops are a great place to find cute, inexpensive props to store in a box until you need them. Think about candles, beads, blankets, silk or fresh flowers, plants, magazines, spectacles, books, cups and makeup. When I am looking to do some flat lay photography, I tend to wander around my house looking for items that will enhance my photographs.


Forever Living Aloe

I don’t necessarily mean adding ‘frames’ to your images when editing. This is more about the artistic way in which you lay out your items. Less is more, so don’t try to overcrowd the shot, or it will look like you’re trying too hard. Take a few photographs and assess what looks right and needs moving or removing. Consider leaving empty spaces to allow it to breathe and give the reader space to imagine.

Camera and Editing

Fotor Photo Editing

Some of the best flat lay photography is taken on a smartphone. I love my Huawei P20 because it assesses the shot itself and adjusts the colours accordingly. Of course, using my phone means that I can edit the image straight away using apps like Fotor, ImageUpscaler, Picsart and DesignCap to create really cool graphics which I can use on my blog and social media.

My other favourite camera for doing flat lay photography is my Canon G7X MkII because it has a flip screen on the back, which can be tilted up to make it easier for me to frame the shot comfortably without having to stand on a chair or stand awkwardly over the subject on the floor.

I recently found this ultimate guide to sharper images which is really good, I would recommend you check it out.

How to improve your flat lay photography

17 thoughts on “How to improve flat lay photography”

  1. These flat lays are so lovely to look at, but it is all a bit too much for me. I am lucky I have some nice wooden floor boards in our swedish home and they have to make do!! but I love browsing everyone else creative shots

  2. I love the tip about using wallpaper for the background. And, you are definitely right about natural light, it makes so much difference to a photo.

  3. This is so helpful – thank you. I had no idea people were using wallpaper all this time! And I have a Huawei P20 too. It takes such a lovely photo. Xx

  4. Ive been trying to put some of these tips into practice with my flat lays. I’ve got some professional backdrops but have also made some myself with free wallpaper samples from b&q. Ive found that sometimes, less can be more with additional props in the picture.

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