The flatlay has been an Instagramer’s go-to for the last year and is a great way to show off your photography styling skills whilst making images look aesthetically pleasing to your current and new followers. Once the professional’s setup, the flatlay is fast becoming an eye-catching and fun way to show off your favourite items or a delicious dish, and could be the difference between ten or hundreds of likes! So how can you emulate the same success as the big accounts and make your images look higher quality and more visual without spending lots of money?
Let’s start with the basic shooting properties – thankfully you can now upload different sizes on Instagram (hallelujah!) but for the flatlay it’s best to stick to Square or Portrait as they appear bigger on your phone screen, plus it is easier to set-up your products in terms of space and allow you to focus on composition more clearly. Once you’ve decided the format of uploading and shooting your images (whether it’s iPhone or camera and transferred across) then we can begin to play with details and style.
As I mentioned, composition is key to an aesthetically pleasing image and also in reflecting your skills so there are a few things to take into account; the first is how you choose to compose and angle your image – the flatlay is traditionally an overhead birds-eye view of the products below and if you’re struggling to keep a steady hand then the Manfrotto Aluminium 3 Section Tripod with Ball Head allows you to move your camera 90 degrees (therefore shooting flatlays with ease) and also at 3/4 angles which adds dimension should you require it to see more detail in your flatlay or switch up your theme!
Next, you want to work on themes and colours – the most successful flatlays have a running theme in the image or overall account, and the best way to achieve this is to use colour. You can do this by either using a white background and have each prop a varied shade of the main focus item or use coloured and patterned backgrounds with similar or contrasting tones to emphasise. Overlap and create movement by utilising props, and this doesn’t have to break the bank – use pens, notepads, flowers and lipsticks or pick up some coloured card, coasters or even paperclips to add dimension and fill space in obvious gaps.
The final thing to remember is a well-lit flatlay is always the best, and this is probably up there with composition in terms of importance, as without both you won’t have the statement shot you desire to emulate! Firstly, always use natural light and an overcast day is best as there is less chance of overexposure; if this isn’t the case then use white and reflective surfaces to bounce light back into the image frame to counteract shadows, and put a thin sheet or piece of card across the light source to diffuse harsh tones or yellow tinges that may affect the quality of your shot. Then you can either up the brightness on your phone post edit or use manual mode on your camera to change the f-stop, ISO and shutter speed to shoot a brighter image and have less post-production work, letting your final piece shine!
Once you’ve got the hang of all these pointers and found your perfect style, you’ll soon be a flatlay pro and see those likes and comments (plus your skills) soar high!
Lauren is a Lifestyle and Beauty Blogger from the UK with a background in Photography. After studying and training in the industry, Lauren has been featured in national magazines as fashion photographer to watch, and now freelances as a photographer whilst running her blog and YouTube channel.