You only need to scroll a few images down on Instagram before you stumble upon beautiful flat lay images. 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 your flat lay photography.
Having the right background makes a huge difference to your image. 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. Using wallpaper samples like the ones I use from MuralsWallpaper can be draped over boxes and across table tops when standing products up for a seamless background.
When choosing the right background for your images people tend to prefer those with light colours like white marble effect, wooden floorboards or white brickwork. That said, don’t be afraid to experiment with colour too. I love these images I captured with coloured wallpapers.
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.
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 piece of kit I found on Amazon which comes with a cold shoe to attach to your camera, a carry pouch and a selection of coloured gel sheets.
When choosing props think about items which help to 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 which will enhance my photograph.
I don’t necessarily mean adding ‘frames’ to your images in the editing process. 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 what needs moving or removing. Consider leaving empty spaces to allow it to breathe and give the reader space to imagine.
Camera and 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 or Snapseed 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.