Would you like to be able to create the perfect flatlay but don’t know where to start?

Whilst it can look easy, it really is an art form to be able to style your products in a visually pleasing way.

Flatlay style photography is very popular among bloggers, foodies, fashion and lifestyle brands.

To get you started, here are seven tips for creating the perfect flatlay.

Seven Tips for Creating the Perfect Flatlay

1. Select a theme

What is the purpose of your flatlay? What are you trying to communicate? Each time you create a flatlay it’s an opportunity to tell a story.

You might decide to create a travel story where you showcase what you’ve packed for your holiday. You may choose to shoot ‘what’s in my handbag’. Or, you may want to create a colour story and shoot everything that’s yellow, for example.

Creating the perfect flatlay - pick a theme

It’s important to have a theme otherwise it will become a random selection of items to shoot with no key message.

2. Choose the hero

Now that you have your theme, you need to select the hero of your shot. You may already know the hero if you own a product/brand.

If you are creating the ‘what’s in my handbag’ shot, then the handbag is the hero. Or, if you have made the most delicious bircher muesli, then that would be your hero.

You can have one or two key items and then build the rest of the flatlay from there.

Creating the perfect flatlay - choose your hero

3. Gather your props

Select props that complement your theme. For example, if you are shooting ‘what’s in my handbag’, then you can add things like make-up, an iPhone, earbuds, a notebook, pen and more.

You don’t need to spend a fortune on props. You can use everyday items found in your home.

Magazines, jewellery, stationery items, mugs, sunglasses, scarves, and candles, are all handy props. 

Find an empty cupboard, or use a storage box, to store your props so that they are easily accessible.

4. Decide on a background

Once you have your items, then you need to work out what background you would like to use.

Often for flatlay style shots, simple backgrounds are best.

You don’t want to have a busy background that will distract the viewer from the hero product.

I regularly use a white table, white-coated MDF or a simple concrete or marble background for my flatlay style images.

Bed sheets and tablecloths also work well.

For more ideas on potential photography backdrops, click here.

Creating the perfect flatlay - pick a backdrop

5. Create balance in your composition

Whether you lay out your products in an orderly way, or a more organic way, you still need to look at whether your shot looks balanced.

Don’t crowd your hero product. Give it some breathing space.

You need to look at the colours of each prop. Maybe spread out the similar colours so that they are not all clumped together.

Look at the shapes of your products. Do you have mostly circle shapes or rectangle shapes? Are they clashing or evenly spread out.

Don’t feel like you need to fill the entire frame with products. Negative space can work well, particularly when you want your hero product to stand out.

Creating the perfect flatlay - look at balance

6. Think about what lighting you will use

For most of my flatlay shots, I use studio lights. You will need to decide whether you want a soft light or a harsh light on your scene. Harsh, direct light will cause strong shadows and strong contrast which works well for certain products.

If you do use studio lights then make sure you stick to the one light source (either window or artificial) so that it doesn’t mess with your white balance.

7. Experiment with your angles

It can take some time to set up a flatlay shot so you want to make the most of it.

The most common angle to shoot a flatlay is from the bird’s eye view (top-down).

However, if you want to get more bang for your buck, then look at different angles. Even take a behind-the-scenes shot that you can use in your Instagram Stories.

Creating the perfect flatlay - look at angles

Over time, you will find your own style and also get a feel for what props work best. The key is to practise. Create layers and play around with shapes and angles. You will become a #flatlayqueen before you know it!

Over to you

What’s your best tip for flatlay photography? Let me know in the comments below.

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