Flat Lays are a combination between lifestyle and product photography. It gets the products away from the boring white background and shows your product in a setting without involving any people. It’s a more interesting way to see your brand and the products it sells, plus customers love flat lays. Instagram and Pinterest are full of bloggers and brands using the flat lay to beautifully display products, outfits, their breakfast and whatever else you can think of and making big bank off of it too.
If you want great flat lays constantly be on the lookout for props or items that will go well with your product. For instance, if you sell luxury handbags, doing a flat lay with items that your typical customer might carry such as makeup, keys, wallet, designer perfume, etc would be your best bet. Craft stores, vintage shops and even the dollar section at Target are great places to find trinkets to fill out the composition.
Pair items that have color harmony. If your main item is pastel try to incorporate other pastel items. The same works for vibrant items. If you have a certain color palette in mind then stick to that color palette. Don’t pair a flat lay that has mostly reds and pink with a random cobalt blue item. It will stick out like a sore thumb and not mesh.
Arrange the photos in an appealing way. Take a few varying shots until you feel you have gotten it right. With flat lays, the most appealing composition is usually found through instinct. Put the items on a simple texture or background that fits the mood you are trying to evoke. If you sell natural products, place them on a grassy background or wood. Lots of bloggers use foam board with stick-on wallpaper or contact paper applied to them to fake any surface they want. Not everyone has fancy marble countertops. Using fabrics or simple textures such as fur or rugs can really elevate a photo.
Shoot from straight above. If necessary get on a step stool and shoot straight down or if you are using a camera put it on a tripod and tilt the tripod head so the camera is facing straight down. Check out these two flat lays I shot for a travel handbag brand. Both were shot from above with my DSLR. I stood on a step ladder to get that straight from above feeling and placed the items on a white foam core board to have a simple background.
Natural light works the best when it comes to flat lays or at least the appearance of it. Faking natural light can be done with a softbox placed overhead or to the side of the setting. If that’s too much for you, shoot near an open window. Cloudy days are the best for all around even lighting. Bright sun can cast harsh shadows onto your flat lay or make items too bright, especially if you are shoot shiny objects.
When you’re all done, slap a signature Instagram filter on there and you have yourself a quick and easy flat lay your customers will love.
***If you want to learn more about the 5 types of photography you need check out this 7 page cheat sheet that sums up each type.