How to Photograph a Beautiful Flat Lay

March 15, 2019

Today I’m sharing some simple tips on how to photograph beautiful flat lays!

We’ve all seen flat lay images everywhere. A flat lay image is essentially a photograph that’s taken from directly above a subject. Usually it will be a product or food, and the image is taken from a straight on angle. We see them all the time on instagram and in commercials! Their great, simple images that are easy to create at home, and can be great ways to create content for social media marketing.

The first step is – of course – know your product! Are you selling a product, or sharing a recipe? What is your purpose in what you are sharing?

Once you identify what your purpose and product is, decide on the vibe you want to portray. Do you want a light, clean, crisp feel? Do you want vibrant colors? Or do you want it to feel casual, like you’re having a nice day at home?

Once you identify what mood you want, choose your background.

Light colored backgrounds can feel light hearted, happy, and minimalist. Darker colors can feel nostalgic or dramatic. Colors also make a big difference. Vibrant colors like pinks, yellows, and reds can add a lot of energy, while more neutral colors like gray and white can feel calming and modern.

After you choose your background, it’s time to choose your props. My favorite props are plants. There are endless varieties – from tropical leaves, to flowers, to succulents and cacti, and everything in between. Plants tend to bring life into the image, and make it feel more inviting for some reason.

Other good props are things that relate to your product, or the environment your product would be used in. I’ve seen clothes, blankets, makeup, stuffed animals, letter boards, food, coffee mugs, laptops, and more. You can be as creative or as minimalist as you’d like here.

Once you have your props and your background, it’s time to set up the lighting. My favorite place to do flat lays is by a window in my home. Simply lay the background on a table directly next to the window. Depending on the light, you’ll either have harsh or soft shadows – both can be fun, depending on what you’re looking for! If you want softer shadows, try putting a white sheet over your window. This will diffuse the light and make it look soft and beautiful. You can also buy a piece of white foam board, and prop it up opposite of the window, next to the background. This will reflect light back into the scene and soften the shadows.

After you find your lighting, set up your shot. I’d recommend learning a bit about composition if you aren’t familiar with this principle of design. Arrange your props in an aesthetically pleasing composition, and take the picture! You can either use a DSLR or an iPhone – both can look great for social media.

Once you take your shot, edit your image. You can use Lightroom or Photoshop, or use an editing app on your phone. I love using Filmborn by Mastin Labs and VSCO once in a while.

Here are some examples of simple flat lays I’ve taken. Most of these were just taken on a table near my window with a reflector.

These simple flat lays are also really good for simple, attractive instagram stories! I hope these tips helped you – let me know how your experience was in a comment below! If you’d like to connect, don’t forget to send me a message here!