Hello! Are you struggling to take good flatlay photos? Do you look at other people's perfect little squares on Instagram and wonder how they do it? Or perhaps you've been taking flatlay photos for a while and are looking for some tips to improve your skills?
I'm here with my 10 top tips for taking amazing flatlay photos!
I first began taking these images for my Instagram grid back in 2017 and through experience and via online courses, I've been learning ever since. I also dipped my toe in photography when I was at art college and it's this knowledge together with a solid grounding in composition which have helped me.
My biggest piece of advice to you would be to have a go. Try things out! If they don't work, make one or two changes and try again. Unlike when I was learning photography, photos on our phones don't cost us anything and we can take multiple shots making minor adjustments as we go. And, like most skills, there's a learning curve and it will become easier!
Here are my 10 top tips ...
1. Set up your photo on a table or similar flat surface as close to the window as you can get. If it means pulling the sofa across the room, do it! The more natural light you can get, the better.
2. The time of day and the weather play a big part in your lighting too. Avoid the beginning and end of the day when the shadows are longer. Avoid really bright, sunny days and dark, overcast days - you want something in the middle. If you have a lightweight roller blind or net curtains this helps to diffuse overly bright light. You could rig something up if you don't have something fixed to your window.
3. Start with your background. You want something with a bit of interest but not too much. Battered old baking tins, wrapping paper, a scratched and weathered table top, vintage maps, self coloured fabric or fabric with with small ditsy floral print on it are all good choices. I invested in some backdrops from a company called Black Velvet Styling and I find them perfect to simply pull out and work on top of. I should add, this is not a sponsored post, I really do love them!
4. Begin slowly. Once you've decided your background, you might want to add fabric down one side or across at an angle. In my photo below, I started with the mitts I was wanting to photograph and added the dried flowers- sweeping them across at an angle. This helps to add a bit of depth to your photo.
5. When you have your background and your main subject, gather together small items that fit your theme. You may wish to start a props box to keep all these sorts of things close to hand - small things like buttons, shells, stones and feathers are all easy to aquire. Charity shops, car boot sales and antiques stores are an excellent source of smaller items to help give your flatlay interest and appeal.
6. However, don't overload your photo with too many items! It's extrememly hard to read an image that's too cluttered. Allow your main subject (if it has one) plenty of space; it's perfectly fine to have a large area with nothing in it. Take photos as you're playing around and take a moment to assess whether things are working well together or not. Have a look at the image below - the feather was just too much!
7. Have a few items spill out of the picture; a flatlay should feel as if it extends beyond the frame. As you are building up your composition look for things which can go over the edge.Scatter smaller items such as buttons or shells - making sure they go well beyond the frame. This all helps make the final image look more natural.
8. Give your image plenty of space to breathe - don't go in too close. You final photo will feel hemmed in if it doesn't have enough space. This is something you can experiment with.
9. Once you're happy with your composition, a photography bounce board will help to brighten the shadows and even out the contrast. If you're on a budget, simply use a large piece of white card.
10. If you're taking photos for Instagram, use your phone (or camera if it has the function available) on the square setting. That way you're seeing exactly the same dimensions as your final photo. Also make sure that you're holding your phone or camera parallel to your surface. A flatlay should be flat - not taken at a bit of an angle! Most phones have a function you can select in settings which acts like a spirit level, telling you when you're parallel.
I hope you've found this post useful! If you have, please bookmark it or pin it to Pinterest - thank you!
Until next time,