The Beauty of the Flatlay
Firstly, what is a Flatlay anyway?
Creativity is always open to interpretation but traditionally – a flatlay is a photo taken from above, a birds-eye view looking down at props at a 90 degree angle.
Symbolically on Instagram the flatlay is used to tell a story, which can be as simple as dumping everything out of your bag when you get home from dinner or re-arranging your workspace chaos to make you feel better about making that hot mess.
There are no real rules or restrictions with flatlays, you can fill the whole frame, play around with white space, go mad with colour or keep a monochrome palette. It’s also a really great way of showing who you are, what you like, and what your style is.
The beauty of a flatlay is that to the everyday Instagram scroller, they look beautiful and effortless (and they are an incredibly popular piece of content others will share) but from personal experience they take a little bit of planning.
Keep it simple
This is the most essential rule of all! Any good flatlay is, at it’s core, quick and easy to digest. They are fun to create, but should be easy to understand, and create a great first impression for readers and followers.
Start by making sure you have a minimalistic background like plain matte board, wooden bench tops or stark white.
Stay on trend by using a popular background, like marble. If you don’t have marble bench tops handy, try using a large sheet of matte board covered with marble contact. I found some lovely marble and patterned place mats at a local department store for just $2 each, perfect for my flatlay photos. Bargain!
Have you ever tried to take a photo that looked amazing in real life but didn’t translate through the lens? Natural daylight, either during the morning or early afternoon, is THE best source of light for flatlay photos. The use of daylight also helps keep your flatlay photography crisp and neutral. No need for studio lighting or heavy photo-shopping to do away with the yellow tones of overhead lighting, just utilise the sunshine to create your picture perfect lighting.
Focus on one or two main pieces complemented by smaller props and accessories. Leave space between each object to ensure your image is not cluttered and your featured products are emphasised. You don’t want your image to be visually overwhelming so by only focusing on one or two main pieces you can more easily grab the attention of users scrolling through their feed.
Play a little with colour to make your flatlay POP! Choose a colour that fits with your branding, or theme a series of photos around something seasonal, like Summer ☀ or Valentine’s Day ❤ or that connects to the elements in a photo, like nature 🌿
Remember, colour evokes emotion so experiment with different splashes of colour but keep it to a minimum! The colours also need to complement one another, help keep the harmony and look more visually appealing.
Traditionally a 90 degree angle (straight on, or straight down) is the standard, but there are some beautiful images out there of all angles, so be creative when looking through your camera lens.
Fitting everything in can be difficult with large items like magazines or computer screens. Stand on your bed, or a foot stool, to get the perfect shot if you can’t seem to fit everything in on your phone or camera.
Use these tips and you’ll be well on your way to conquering flatlay.
Don’t forget to Experiment and have fun. That’s the beauty of photography for social media. It’s a fantastic way to explore your creative side through the power of an image. Now grab your phone and get snapping!
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