So, I’ve had so many requests from IG followers and Facebook fans on how to get better flatlays. Once you understand the basic principles of light I promise yours will start to look seriously amazing.
Here are the answers to some of the questions I’ve heard in just the last week. I hope you get all the info, right here, to start taking the flatlays of your dreams!
Shoot with a massive light source and use reflectors to bounce light back into the shadows. As pictured this type of crisp clear light makes products look clean and new.
The difference between the above two photos is literally $2 worth of white cardboard! How easy is that.
Products Are Easy to Come By.
Pick up things from the bargain bin. Check out the dollar store for party décor. Raid your makeup cabinet and jewellery box. Pens from Typo are a personal fave, lots of very cool designs and very affordable.
Always keep a microfiber cloth near where you shoot and wipe everything down before you shoot. With good light, dust and hair show up too easily. To clean my laptop I use cotton buds and isopropyl alcohol to get any gunk out of the nooks and crannies.
Some makeup from my makeup bag, my favourite watch and headphones, my backup camera, a few notebooks from the office and my laptop. Add a houseplant and a pretty, sparkly pen and ta-da: a gorgeous found items flatlay. Nothing in this image is new. It was all found around my house (and the deepest caverns of my makeup bag).
Where Do I Put It All?
Not sure how to place those products once you’ve found them. Ugh, this is a hard one to explain but I’ll tell you my thought process and how I do it. The key is balance and flow. Take inspiration from a shape in nature and mirror that. A flowing river – a flatlay of items pointing in one direction and ‘flowing’ out of frame. A flower – a flatlay of longer items (lipsticks or pens) all pointing outwards from a central item (a round lipgloss pot). Start by placing down a visually ‘heavy’ item, usually the most colourful or large item you’re using. Then place down a few things around it. Move them again and again until you’re satisfied.
Keep round or cylindrical items in place with a tiny dab of white reusable adhesive gum (blutack).
Use little items, like rings or earrings or paperclips or leaves or flower petals, to fill in gaps and spaces.
Use a big ruler to check that everything is straight if shooting square or rectangle placement.
Layers and Texture Really Pack a Punch.
Just like fashion or interior décor, layers and different textures are key to an interesting flat lay or product shot. When choosing an outfit I pop on my top and bottom and then I always add a third item in a different fabric to add interest, like a large bib necklace, a crochet cardigan or a denim jacket. I do a modified version of this in flatlays. Add plants for life, flowers for colour and softness, a tea towel in the corner of a food photo steps it up to the next level. Even a scarf or denim jacket in the corner of a desktop flatlay.
SmartPhones: The Best Camera is The
One You Have With You.
How do I get the best quality flatlay or product shots from your iPhone/smartphone? Take it all outside. Obviously not when it’s raining, but seriously take all of your stuff outside. Invest (About $5) in a piece of ply or craftwood (mdf for the Aussies) and lay that down in the shade outside, I did a flatlay out on the grass in our yard today (try and avoid the doggy doo-doos unlike I did, woops). I laid my board in the shade and snapped two shots on my phone, that was all I needed! Smart phones have incredible image processors these days, but their light tolerance is far higher than a professional camera. They need a brighter environment for the best results. Outside light (stick to the shade!) is your best bet. Here was my quick little outdoor setup today.
And here is the resulting image straight from my smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S6).
Say You Still Want a More Professional Rig.
If you’re still not happy with the images coming out of your iPhone and want to take the step up to a higher resolution camera, then make sure you choose one with a good quality lens. The lens is actually more important than the camera. You can put an amazing lens on an entry level camera and get amazing images, but a cheap lens on an amazing camera will severely limit it’s capabilities.
My favourite point and shoot cameras are the Panasonic DMC series. Really excellent lens quality, sharp images and they also take great macros (super close up shots).
For DLSR cameras any mid level dslr body from Canon or Nikon will do a great job for you when paired with a good lens. I have always been happier with the sharpness of images from fixed length lenses. I currently shoot flatlays with a Sigma 50mm Art Series Lens. It’s super sharp!
So that’s it really. Go forth and make amazing flat lays. Oh and don’t forget to become a member!