IM PECCABLY STYLED, NICELY LIT, PERFECTLY FRAMED. BLOGGERS AND INSTAGRAM STARS MAKE FLAT LAY PHOTOGRAPHY SEEM LIKE A DAUNTING TASK THAT’S BETTER LEFT TO THE PROS. BUT WITH CREATIVITY AND PRACTICE, YOU TOO CAN MASTER THE ART OF THE FLAT LAY. HERE ARE 10 TIPS TO START YOU OFF!
1. MAKE USE OF NATURAL LIGHT AND NEGATIVE SPACE
Make sure your flat lay has consistent, clean lighting. It’s best to shoot in natural light on cloudy days, when the sun won’t cast distracting shadows. Negative space serves a similar purpose—the blank space around your items help pull focus on them. You can lay out your main piece(s) with props, group them in clusters, or feature them as a single unit. Your use of negative space will depend on your composition.
2. COLLECT AND STORE CUTE TRINKETS IN A PROPS BOX
Take a cue from photobooths and have a box of reusable props on hand for your flat lays. “To make it more interesting, I add elements that can contribute to the aesthetic without overpowering the subject,” says designer and blogger Khai Nunag. “It helps to collect random interesting things like
3. BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT TO EXPRESS
“Think of a theme that can quickly communicate your story,” says beauty blogger and entrepreneur Liz Lanuzo. Decide on a particular color palette, motif, or vibe. “If you’re talking about a sweet peach-inspired makeup collection for example, you’d want to style it as if it’s a dessert! It’s easy to have a lot of styling props, but the real challenge is creating a cohesive statement.” It’s about making sure your flat lay makes sense.
4. EXPERIMENT WITH TEXTURES AND PATTERNS
It’s called flat lay because you lay the objects flat on a surface, not because the surface must always be flat. To create an interesting dynamic, try shooting on rough textures, contrasting colors, or eye-catching patterns like lifestyle blogger Nicole Aguinaldo. Add levels to your flat lay by putting some items on top of a box, a desk tray, or books. After some experimenting, you’ll eventually get a much better sense of what works.
5. CREATE YOUR OWN CUSTOMIZED BACKDROPS
Beauty bloggers like Martha Sta. Barbara would sometimes lay out artsy wrapping papers, torn magazine pages, or colored cartolinas for a DIY backdrop to match the products they’re shooting. “Corrugated cardboard is your best friend!” she says. “I’ve discovered it’s great for flat lays because it’s matte and light doesn’t bounce on it too much. It’s heavier and sturdier, so the surface looks more streamlined in photos.”
6. MAKE SURE YOUR IMAGE IS FOCUSED AND SHARP
Unless it’s intentional, there’s no excuse for blurry or defocused photos with today’s smartphones and gadgets! Take a page from the book of lifestyle blogger Sophia Sanchez. If you don’t have a steady hand, use a tripod and remote or use your phone’s camera timer. Take additional shots as back-up, even when you’ve gotten your desired composition and framing. Enhance your photo’s details and focus with editing apps if needed.
7. TRAIN YOUR “EYE” BY WORKING WITH WHAT YOU HAVE
Yes, bloggers have the best equipment. What and where they shoot tend to be photogenic to begin with. But it’s not what enables them to create fantastic flat lays—it’s having a trained eye. Where others see products and a garden table, beauty bloggers like Shen Cala-or see flat lay options. “Your gadgets don’t need to be the latest model or brand either,” she says. “Most cameras have the same amazing settings you can work with.”
8. AIM FOR CONSISTENCY AS WELL AS VARIETY
Consistency means that your flat lays in general should bear your signature stamp—a trademark style evident on your Instagram feed. Variety means that your individual flat lays are composed and styled in different ways so that your photos don’t look repetitive and boring. To nail it like LA-based model and blogger Aiko Cunanan, the only way is through constant practice!
9. TRUST YOUR CREATIVE INSTINCTS AND HAVE FUN
There’s a difference between being inspired by other flat lays and imitating the style. Your Instagram feed is yourcreative outlet that should reflect your aesthetic, not anyone else’s. If you love bold colors, there’s no need to tone it down just because your favorite Instagrammer only posts in black and white. Take a cue from eclectic blogger Cristina Decena! Stay true to your personality and just enjoy the process.
10. DON’T LET THE STYLING LIMIT THE STORYTELLING
More important than what your flat lay shows is how it makes people feel. A compelling story is one that evokes emotions: think about your favorite music, film, book, or food. Chances are you love it for the memories more than for the technicals, right? So don’t fuss about what flashy things to shoot. As London-based writer and photographer Kristine Garduque shows, sometimes it’s the simple and the familiar that bring comfort.>/p>
WHAT FLAT LAY TRICKS ARE YOU EXCITED TO TRY OUT? SHARE YOUR OWN TIPS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
(Featured image courtesy of OG flat lay queen @thepinkdiary)
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