My photography game has gone from strength to strength the past few months. And while there’s always room for improvement, I wanted to share a few of my essential tips for nailing the perfect flatlay. Having a list of rules to follow makes creating flatlays even easier and once you’ve done a few the right way it becomes second nature.
Flatlays are an essential part of blogging but they can seem really daunting if you’ve never done one before. So hopefully I’ll be able to show you that if I can do it, anyone can.
One of my favourite elements of any flatlay is the props. Usually a flatlay will be focused on specific products, but it’s the random assortment of props surrounding it that makes it a good one. The props you use will depend on the type of picture, the product and the vibe you’re going for. Good places to start are flowers, fairy lights and makeup brushes if you’re doing a beauty shot.
I’ve been able to find all of my props at bargain stores like B&M, Home bargains and Primark so don’t think you have to spend hundreds on a cactus to get results.
An essential part of good photography is lighting. Natural light is an absolute must for taking pictures; however I know how hard this can be when you live in England and its dull 80% of the time. My biggest advice would be to work around the sun and when there is light do as many flatlays as possible.
I’ve been known to take a whole shoot outside just to get good light, so don’t be afraid to go the extra mile. Experiment with different areas around your house or outside and see what produces the best image then stick to it. My kitchen is the best place for light so that’s where I always do all of my photo shoots.
3 Check and check again
This is something that I’ve learnt, quite recently, from experience. And that’s to keep checking back on your photos and pay attention to the details. I did a full shoot the other day; started editing and realised you could see my reflection (double chin and everything) in one of the products.
Referring back to the pictures you’ve just taken will also help you to see what isn’t working, where you should rearrange products and what looks good.
One of the biggest things to let flatlays down is they look too… flat. Now I know that sounds stupid but hear me out. You want the elements in the image to look exciting and texture is the way to give them a little bit of life. Adding a fluffy rug or interesting background will not only look good, but it will make your flatlay eye-catching.
My favourite background is my marble slab but sometimes it can get a little dull, so I tend to add a pop of colour or pattern to help jazz it up. A lot of the times I use rugs or throws for this but I have also been known to use wallpaper samples (which you can get for free.)
While it’s not essential, one of the easiest ways the make a picture look cohesive is to stick with a theme. This might just be a colour scheme but could range all the way up to a full vision board. When considering themes I look at the product itself and what would be relevant then go from there.
Recently I’ve had very floral and natural themes for my photos but usually I like to just stick to either a warm or cool colour palette.
So, you’ve got your props, your lighting and your camera what’s next?
Setting them all up can make or break a shoot and how you do it will determine how good your photo comes out at the end. Don’t be afraid to experiment, place different props around your items and move them about till you find something that works, then do it all again. You want to give yourself as many options as you can when it comes to editing.
Also, making sure everything is well spaced is important, you don’t want too many things overlapping or touching. But have fun with your composition and keep checking your camera to see what works.
7 Play with angles
Flatlays are almost always taken from a birdseye view, but why not try and mix things up a bit? Taking shots from a variety of angles will not only lead to more interesting pictures, it also means you have extra images in the bank for later. Sometimes overhead will work well for an image but sticking to it religiously might mean you’re missing out.
Try standing at different heights, move around your set up if you can and see what works best.
8 Get in the picture
Interacting with the photo can really sell it. You will probably need a tripod or another person in order to do this properly but it really is worth all that extra effort!
9 Keep it simple
As much as I love props, sometimes it’s better to let the products be the focus. It’s easy to overdo it with the props so keep in mind that less is more and on occasion having none at all can make a bigger impact.
Images like these rely on good composition and well thought out backgrounds so keep in mind that if you’re going to go simple. The devil is in the details!
Editing can transform even the worst image into a decent one and that’s why it’s so important. You’ve already gone to all this effort to design, create and take the photos so why not give them that extra edge and edit them too.
This gives you an opportunity to correct any mistakes. I focus on the lighting and exposure of an image and play around with the ratios till I find something that looks amazing. There are tonnes of apps that are available and the best ones out there are free. VSCO is a well known blogger tool but I also use GIMP on my laptop if I an image needs a lot of work.
I hope you found this post helpful. I love photography and through blogging It’s become a real passion of mine. And while I still have ways to go it’s amazing to look at where I started in comparison to now.
Let me know your best tips in the comments!