flat lay photography

Flat lay photography – tips for nailing your shoot every time

We’re all familiar with flat lay photography; we see flat lays all over social media for a variety of things – from jewellery and stationery to food and latte art. At first glance, flat lays might just seem like an assortment of objects laid out on a table, but flat lay photography offers experienced and inexperienced photographers alike the opportunity to take beautiful, styled photos with ease. There’s a fine art to the humble flat lay which can take a lot of practice to perfect, but once you understand the basics, you can nail your flat lay photography every time, no matter how complex your styling. To help you take the perfect flat lay, we’ve compiled our favourite tips below!

Tip #1: Know what you need from your flat lay photography

There is nothing worse than taking the time to shoot beautiful photos, only to find out that it doesn’t suit your purpose. Before you start styling for your photoshoot, it’s important to know where and how you plan to use your flat lay photo. Will it be a square or vertical Instagram post? Perhaps a Facebook page header? Or even an A4 cover page for an important document? All of these uses come with different dimensions, and will necessarily require different layouts for the props you use during your shoot. To help your photoshoot run smoothly, consider putting together a list of layouts you need and tick them off as you go – that way, you’ll make sure you never miss an important shot.

Tip #2: Find appropriate lighting

Some may think that this goes without saying, but lighting is perhaps the most important factor in taking a great photo. Sunlight, particularly in the morning or afternoon, is great for flat lay photography. Sunlight light is warm, natural and not too harsh like some artificial lights. Shooting by a window is an easy way to get great lighting for your flat lay while minimising any harsh shadowing.  

Tip #3: Mix up your flat lay backgrounds

If you’re shooting flat lays on a regular basis, it can be helpful to switch up the surface of your shot. Most people have a few options already on hand – a linen duvet cover, their courtyard tiles, a granite bench, a timber desk… If you want to get a little more creative however, your local craft store will have plenty of options such as this $3 Marble Adhesive, or this $7.50 black corflute. Even easier, you can purchase rolls of coloured craft paper pretty much anywhere to make an eye-catching or creative background for your flat lay. 

Tip #4: Use a milk crate or step ladder

To save yourself the discomfort and inconvenience of having to reach up as high as you can to shoot from above, grab a small step ladder or milk crate to jump up on. It will make all the difference to your photo if you’re able to see what you’re shooting and adjust your position for other shots, rather than having to bring down your viewfinder after every shot.

Tip #5: Leave space for text and logos in your flat lay styling

While you’re shooting, make sure you get a few shots with enough empty space for text or a logo to be added in the editing stage. It’s a stylish and effective way to include your personal branding in photos, and a great addition to your bank of imagery – after all, you never know when you might need a blog header or social post at short notice!

Tip #6: Use blu-tack to keep things in place

Blu-tack to content creators is like flour to a baker – essential. Make sure you have some blu-tack handy at all times. Sometimes you need a handbag strap to stay ‘just so’, lift a business card slightly to give it some more dimension, or stop that pesky wine bottle rolling out of place. Being able to place your props exactly as you’d like will make your whole process that little bit easier, and make the finished product extra polished. 

Tip #7: Use hands as props for your photos

To add a little more action to your shot, try and get a friend or co-worker to interact with part of your flat lay. This could be anything from holding a page of a book, pointing at a destination on a map, or even holding a cup of coffee. This is also an opportunity to add to your shot with accessories – if you have a lot of black and white in your shot, you could use slate grey nail polish, silver jewellery, or a statement black watch. The possibilities are endless. Just ensure your model has clean and manicured nails, and doesn’t have a hair tie on their wrist!

Tip #8: Pay attention to every detail

Last but not least, make sure you pay attention to the details. This is one of our most important tips – and it doesn’t just go for flat lays. Look closely at the fine details of your images, not just the composition; zoom in on each object if need be. There’s nothing that will chew up your time more than realising there was a fingerprint on a glossy surface, a little hair out of place, or some of that blue-tack showing, then having to painstakingly edit it out of every image – or worse still, having to reshoot. If you spend a few extra minutes checking over while you’re shooting, it will pay back in dividends!

Not sure whether your flat lay photography is hitting the mark? Or need a hand curating the perfect Instagram feed? Whatever your brand has to say with its photography, at Social Weaver, we can help you tell your story.

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