How to Photograph the Perfect Flat Lay for Social Media

 

Flat lays are taking social media by storm, even if you’re unaware of what this term means. The style focuses on a group of items where the photo is shot from above. Think of a magazine photo displaying an array of products from an intricate leather-bound journal that sits next to a coffee mug filled with steaming hot tea, there’s a pair of reading glasses in the corner, an eye-popping tube of lipstick at the opposite end of the page and flower petals scattered in between. You wonder why you’re taking the time to look at this page of top editor favorites this season, but you can’t look away. This type of product photography is so aesthetically pleasing to your eyes you can’t pay attention to anything else right now.

 

Flat Lays Aren’t Just for Professionals!

Flat lays carry two misconceptions that lie within two extreme trains of thought. One: The objects in the photo were randomly thrown together and photographed. Two: It takes a savvy photographer to achieve this type of photo.

While creating the perfect social media flat lay takes inspiration, it’s not impossible for amateur bloggers and those just beginning to use social media to capture this stunning visual effect with your camera phone or a DSLR! See some of our tips below on how to get started and take a flawless flat lay.

Start planning your props

Gather together what you’ll need for this photoshoot. Think about the items that inspire you, but have these points in mind:

  • Choose a theme for the photo. What are you trying to communicate to your audience?
  • Pick objects that vary in shape and size to build visual interest
  • Think about color. Have a palette in mind to start organizing the overall composition
  • Showcase texture

Don’t be afraid to grab more items than you’ll end up needing. This way, you have more options to see what works in the photo and what doesn’t. Need some inspiration before you start? Search for #flatlay on Pinterest and Instagram to get those creative juices going.

Choose a background

A plain white background is your smartest choice. You don’t want to take the attention away from your props. A neutral wood floor or tabletop may work as well depending upon your theme. When it comes to choosing a background, use what you have on hand. Lots of top bloggers use a flat white bed sheet to create their flat lay backgrounds. Depending upon the aesthetic you’re trying to achieve, a crinkled white bed sheet in the background can showcase amazing texture within your photo. If you’re looking to go bold, try colored wrapping paper or school project poster board.

Keep the light au naturel

Let’s face it, very few of us have access to a photography studio with professional lighting equipment. Luckily, your social media flat lay only needs natural light. Try to set up the photo near a window. You’ll get the best light in the morning or the late afternoon. Avoid using flash as it creates unwanted shadows. Another way to avoid shadows and give your photo the most light possible is to photograph toward the window light, not away from it.

Composition is everything

This might be the hardest part of setting up your flat lay. For some, the artistic eye of perfectly placing each item is natural talent. For others, it takes time and practice. Remember to take your time. There’s no rush to find your style. Here are some more tips in creating that ideal composition for social media:

  • Figure out which item is going to be your main focal point
  • Create a balance between different size objects, colors and textures around that focal point
  • If you plan on adding text later on, think about where you want it to go and create that space
  • Play around with your spacing. What kind of a look do you achieve by layering objects compared to leaving a little space between them?

Shoot from high up

You have the light, you have the backdrop and all of your objects placed to perfection. Now you need to take a photo that’s … well… flat. The only way to accomplish this is by getting height between you and the props. You might use a chair or ladder to take your photos from above. If you’re using the floor, you might be able to achieve the perfect flat shot by standing up over the display and photographing downward. Continue to play around with the composition as you photograph to see what looks best in each shot.

Edit before posting

Use photo editing software or apps to take your social media flat lay to the next level. A few simple edits or a preset filter can make a mediocre photo into a stunning work of photography!

 

Contact us today so we can show you some of the amazing flat lay work we’ve done for our clients. Let us take your social media to the next level!