TAKING THE PERFECT FLAT LAY: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE

There are certain photos that have become iconic in the world of Instagram. The selfie, the latte art, and of course, the flat lay. A flat lay is a photo of neatly laid out items on a flat surface taken from a bird’s eye view. Creating the perfect Instagram flat lay may look difficult, but the following tips will make you a pro in no time.

Before you can take your flat lays, you’ll need a good camera. Personally, I take most of my photos on my iPhone, but recently I’ve been looking into investing in better equipment. I actually have my eyes on the 4K Compact System Camera  by Panasonic.

I’m really drawn to this camera because of the Post Focus Simulation which allows you to take a photo and choose your focal point later. This means you don’t have to worry about your photos being blurry. Moreover, I feel like this camera would be a much better option for me as it’s a compact camera. I hate bringing my DSLR around because it’s super heavy and uncomfortable to use which is actually why I use my phone.

how to take a flat lay

Once you have your camera ready, these are the most important elements of taking the perfect flat lay:

1.USE A NEUTRAL BACKGROUND

Neutral background is very important, because it reduces background noise in photos. Statistically, white background does better in flat lays than black or coloured background. However, dark coloured backgrounds look amazing in food and travel flat lays.

Marble background is my personal favourite, because it makes the photo look quite luxurious and chic without adding too much distraction. However, I tend to not add too many items in my photos when using  a marble background.

2. SHOOT IN NATURAL LIGHT

The best lighting for flat lay photography is definitely natural. Take your photos by a window or outside if you can. Make sure the lighting is bright enough to illuminate your image, but avoid bright sunshine which will blow out light colours in your photo. Sunrise and sunset are actually the best times to take photos in natural light.

However, if you don’t have an option to shoot in natural light, I would recommend investing in some soft box lights. Other artificial lighting will give your photos a yellow tinge.

3. CREATE A NARRATIVE

Flat lays are most effective when they tell a visual story. Thus, the items in the photo need to be coherent. For example if you are taking a photo of your breakfast, include some of the ingredients in the shot as it tells a story of how the breakfast was made. Anything you’re experiencing in your life can be the inspiration for a flat lay story.

4. COMPOSITION IS KEY

Composition is all about balance. It doesn’t necessarily mean your image has to be perfectly lined up, but you do want to follow some simple composition rules to give your flat lays a WOW factor.

I recommend following the rule of thirds when taking your flat lays. This composition technique breaks an image into a 9-piece grid where the important compositional elements are placed along the grid lines or their intersections.  Following the rule of thirds can make the image a lot more visually appealing to the eye.

how to take a flat way

5. POST-PRODUCTION

The perfect flat lay cannot look perfect without some editing. However, I would recommend to keep editing to a minimum. Personally, I edit all my photos on VSCO app by adding the same formula of brightness, contrast, saturation etc. to all my photos to make them look coherent with my Instagram theme. However, you can just add a filter that fits your Instagram theme or find your own formula of editing.

Hope these tips are helpful and let me know what tips you would recommend others regards to taking the perfect flat lay!

-A

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3 Comments

  1. November 17, 2017 / 5:58 pm

    This is so helpful! I use my iPhone too, but I’m unsure about whether or not to invest in a camera. The one you mentioned sounds so good! Thanks for sharing xx

    Hannah | luxuryblush

  2. Velvet Blush
    November 17, 2017 / 9:17 pm

    These are some great tips! I love flatlays too, and I agree that where it feels like they’re telling a story, they really come to life! x

    Velvet Blush

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