HOW TO MASTER THE ART OF THE INFAMOUS FLATLAY
The flatlay vs flat-lay debacle aside, whichever term you go for, they are a bloggers dream. Especially for those of us that live in the UK, a flatlay can often be a saving grace when the weather is too miserable for outside photography. All of the Instagram elite have been incorporating flatlays into their feeds for years and years, and the style is only getting more popular. Although they take a little bit of work and creativity, they're perfect for capturing anything and everything - travel essentials, daily outfits, beauty products, night-out essentials, food bits and bobs. Basically whatever you want to showcase! Some of my favourite flatlay guru's are Kate La Vie, Tara Milk Tea and Jasmine Dowling.
I've relied on flatlays since the beginning of my blogging days and have noticed that they tend to do pretty damn good in the ol' engagement game. Also brands seem to be a big fan too! Here's a selection of some of my favourites from the past year:
I'm always trying to improve on my skill but I wanted to share with you some of my tips and tricks that I've learnt along the way.
Simple is key when it comes to a flatlay background; especially when you're going to be layering quite a few items on top. Anything with too garish of a pattern or design will be too distracting. I tend to go for either a plain piece of card, white bedding, pale wood or in true blogger style, anything marble.
Flatlays might look incredibly simple, but there is a lot of work that goes into them. Especially within beauty and lifestyle images it's not as easy as just throwing your products on the ground and praying it looks good. Photography styling is something that I absolutely adore so it's always been my favourite part of taking an image but it takes a lot of patience and practice. A few things to consider:
How do the items look next to each other?
Is it too messy?
Do you need any extra props to break up the image?
Are the colours complimenting each other?
Is there enough space in the image for everything to have breathing room?
Is the image looking too heavy in any areas?
A handy tip is to always have Blu-Tack nearby to keep your products / items in place. This is especially helpful with beauty products that have a tendency to roll around!
SHOOT IN SQUARE MODE
The first rule of Instagram flatlays is to always shoot the photo in square if you are taking the shot on your phone. Flicking your phone onto square makes it easier to see what will fit in the Instagram frame and you won’t have to worry about cropping it when it comes time to upload. If you are using your SLR camera, if you can, make sure you change the image dimensions to 640×640 pixels (or as close to as possible) so the whole image is in the frame.
Lighting can mean the difference between a grey, blurry mess and a bright wonder-thing of an Instagram. But fear not, you don't necessarily need fancy studio lights to make it happen. The best lighting to use in pictures tends to be natural lighting through a nearby window. I usually try to shoot in the morning because the early daylight is cooler and makes a better contrast between the objects and the background. If shadows are a huge issue in your photos, shoot on a cloudy day. The type of light emitted in that environment helps diffuse shadows and create fewer of them.
Like with all aspects of photography it just takes practice to find your feet with it. Even if you're not taking pictures, practice styling items and it can help you to gather an understanding of how they would work in an image. The more you just play around with things the easier it will become when taking photographs in this style! Practice makes perfect and all that.
I'd love for you to leave links to some of your own flatlays below!