A flat lay is when you photograph items from directly above using objects (most of the time) to tell a story, display a brand, or both and more. Whether for Instagram or for your blog, good flat lays are very appealing. Here are 4 tips to creating beautiful ones:
- Choose a neutral background
You can arrange your items on a white sheet of paper/cardboard/sheet etc. Or you can pick a background that is darker or in my case a wooden background. The above picture was taken using my patio’s wooden floors. You can also pick a background that has a neutral pattern like I have done below. I have used different sheets I bought from Michael’s for a couple of dimes and paired them together.
2. Pay attention to the lighting/Orientation
Natural light is better to take flat lays so take your picture close to a window maybe or in a well-lit room in your home. Walk around to find the best lighting for your flat lay. The one above was still taken on my patio since natural light filters in. Make sure that your phone or camera is parallel to the surface. Stand on a chair if you have to. (which I did to take those). If you are taking the flat lay for Instagram, Make sure you use the square option on your phone camera. If it is on your camera, you can do like I do by taking the photo as wide as you can so you can crop later if necessary.
3. Make it Pretty
Use your items in a way that looks good. Pair different items together while styling them in a way that is appealing. Use the way your orient your items along with which ones you choose to pair. Do you want the focus to be in the center? top or bottom? Arrange your items accordingly. You can also choose to add a pop of color
4. Make a Theme/Create a Story
Flat Lays tell stories. The items that you choose to pair tell the person seeing it what is it you wanted to convey. Can you come up with themes for the above picture? Comment them below.
This is probably the question people ask me the most on social media besides what camera do you use. Truth is, it does not matter as much as you think. Spending time trying to figure out what camera to get is a complete waste, IF time is not spent to further your knowledge in the basics of photography/videography etc. When I first started my photography business, I had a cheap camera. I had a basic camera. No fancy lenses or fancy equipments. I still managed to shoot engagements/ graduation/landscapes etc. with happy customers. Yes, a professional camera has saved me time in processing, but none of that would have mattered if I had not taken the time to learn and develop a technique for myself. It is a learning process and a work in progress. I am also glad I did not have a professional camera to start with because it helped me learn the basics of photography and helped me figure out a lot of things using DIY methods.
I took these photos a while back. When I first started to consider venturing into photography as a business, and not as a hobby as it started when I was a child.
Disappearing glass. No edits. 2012
There are some factors to consider though. Finding a camera that suits you or that you feel comfortable with is also important. I have very small hands for example so I need a camera that gives me a good grip regardless of how big it is. So I think a camera that is comfortable to you should be a factor.
A second factor would be the price. Buy something you can afford. Especially if you are a beginner that intends to make a business out of it down the line. Buy something you can afford and learn on. Later on when your business starts developing, you can upgrade your gear. I know people who spent a lot of money on cameras that they never ended up using because they didn’t/couldn’t figure it out, or because they were not sure it was a passion of theirs to begin with. Don’t break your bank account for something you are not one hundred percent sure of.
What you are using the camera for is also an important factor. If you are using it manly for videography or manly for photography, there are cameras tailored to work best in each or in both. This Post gives good insight about cameras that are well suited for videos in different price ranges.
Now my advice to you is buy what you can afford. If you can afford a professional camera right away, good! If you can’t, don’t worry about it too much for now. Buy a decent one (Canon and Nikon cameras are usually the go to although there are others out there just as good like Fujifilm and Olympus) that is tailored to your needs, and spend time learning the basics and developing your technique. Later on, you can always upgrade your gear. At the end of the day, that is what makes the difference between the shots you take versus the ones someone else takes: Not the camera or the equipments used, but you and how you see things!