Here’s a useful thing….flat lays 101
Flat Lay photography is such an easy and engaging way to showcase the things you do, make and/or love. Also – they aren’t hard to take with your smartphone, are super popular on Instagram and help tell your story in a clear, strong way.
So…what is a flat lay? Basically an image taken from above (birds eye view) of a bunch of arranged items. Some may argue that people and arms and legs and things shouldn’t technically appear in a flat lay but I don’t!
And how do you take a good one? Here are some tips…
1. Choose a simple background – a piece of white cardboard, plain wooden table top or surface. Even the floor, a bed… just as long as it’s simple and clean. Dark backgrounds can be beautiful for food flat lays. A cement floor in the shed can be great. Anything with a bit of ‘age’ or patina is also beautiful. If you don’t have any good backgrounds handy, here’s a tip for making do; next time you see a wall, floor, surface that you love, take a photo of a beautiful background (old cement walls, marble, anything) then print it up as big as you can (I go to Office Works and ask them to print out A0 size, cost is $26 and I think a good option). Keep these prints rolled up and out of the way until you need them, then just roll out, weigh down the corners and shoot away.
2. Choose a Color Palette – It helps to choose a couple of unifying colors.
3. Use natural daylight and hopefully a nice indirect light source to avoid shadows. Shoot near a window, on a cloudy day if possible or if it’s really sunny, stick some baking paper or muslin over the window to diffuse the harsh light.
4. Embrace space – make sure that the objects in your flat lay have enough space between them. Otherwise it can look a bit crowded and messy. Try to keep in mind the Coco Chanel rule, take one thing off before you leave the house…maybe take one item away before shooting.
5. Good composition is the key to any good flat lay – turn on the grid in your phone camera and use it to help you stick to the rule of thirds – ie place the main focus point/item of interest on one of the intersecting lines (off centre).
6. And still on composition; odd numbers are better than even. For some reason odd numbers are more ‘pleasing to the eye’, so instead of two apples, make it three…and so on.
7. It’s all about the story – flat lays are great because they let you bring together a bunch of different elements that together tell a story. So make sure whatever is in your flat lay is part of the story then use your captions to tell it.
8. Make sure your phone or camera is parallel to the table or surface you’re photographing. Experiment by taking a few photos and using the grid to ensure your lines are nice and straight. If your camera is on an angle at all it will be less of a flat lay and more of an angle lay. If you know what I mean.
9. Don’t forget to tag anyone whose products are featured in your flat lay. This is a great way to build engagement.
10. Don’t forget to give them a quick brighten/sharpen/filter with an editing app like VSCO.