Elements that Make a Perfect Flat Lay Photo

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Fresh flowers, everyday accessories, colorfulΒ clothing ensembles, and bits of your favorite things — sounds likeΒ flat lay perfection, right?Β While taking flat lay photos can take up a huge chunk of time pretty quickly without you knowing it (because it’s so fun and addicting!), I promise you’ll get better at it once you get the hang of it. Practice makes perfect, and the beauty of flat lays is that you have the freedom to really make them yours! Think of it like a creative, personalized spin of product photography that can be easily done on a cell phone. πŸ™‚

My boyfriend usually takes my blog photos but occasionally I like to give him a break and take my own photos whenever I can. These photos typically are product/flat lay photos! With that said, I’ve been playing around with textures and bits of my favorite pieces to up my Instagram game. Wondering what makes my perfect flat lay photos? Read on to find out!


CLEAN, EVEN, & BRIGHT LIGHTING

This one, I’ve learned, is by far the most important element to any strong flat lay photo, especially if you’re taking the photo on a phone. I hate grainy flat lays, so I do my very best to take my photos in clean and even lighting. My apartment is pretty dark naturally, so if I’m indoors, I like to take my photos near the windows or on a white background for the extra pop and overall brightness. I’ve found that by using naturally great light, I don’t have to worry about unsightly shadows or graininess. At night time, I ditch the cell phone and use my boyfriend’s DSLR and artificial lighting to createΒ sharp, well-litΒ photos.

TEXTURES

You can’t go wrong with shooting a flat lay against a white background (unless the item(s) are white, of course), but I like to be adventurous with my textures when it comes to taking photos. A few go-to textures I like are fur, silk, rugs, unique blankets, wood, and marble! The options are endless here, so feel free to get creative.

PRETTY (OR YUMMY) THINGS

Spice up your flat lay photo by throwing in some pretty things. Lately, I’ve been really into using macarons in my flat lays because they are different and look very aesthetically pleasing! They are also really yummy to eat afterwards. πŸ˜‰ Some other props I like to use are magazines and smaller items like jewelry, nail polish, and accessories like watches or sunnies. Here, I’ve also played with several different textures including an aztec print poncho (turned into blanket for this shot) and my favorite faux fur rug.

COLOR

When scrolling through my social media feeds, I’ve noticed that my eyes naturally gravitateΒ to photos with great contrast and color. With that said, I try to pick things with vibrancy to photograph.Β Color makes such a big difference and I’m all about ’em!

PROPORTIONS & POST-PROCESSING

The perfect flat lay photo is taken from directly above, or close to it. The whole idea is that the photo should look “flat” from where the picture taker is standing. I’m also super OCD about things looking straight if lines are involved in the photo… so if you’re like me, that’s another thing to consider. Getting the proportions right on the camera helps a lot with the post-processing step. After selecting the best photos, I move onto this step.

Firstly, if taken on my boyfriend’s DSLR camera, I’ll play with color adjustments on Lightroom. Then, if needed, I proceed toΒ Snapseed and VSCO Cam. For phone photos, I don’t use Lightroom because it’s just extra work and usually will turn out just fine with Snapseed and VSCO Cam. These are two amazing (and super easy to use!) photo editing applications that work amazingly on the iPhone. I swear by them, and I know a lot of my other blogger friends do, too! When post-processing, I make sure to consider color balance, straightening, sharpness, and saturation. Since I like my flat lays bright and clean, I tend to up the highlights so that the colors come out crisper and the whites come out whiter. To bring out bright colors from items like roses, I bring up the saturation and contrast a tad.Β This part is really just about practice and personal preferences. After doing it a few times, you’ll learn what you like and don’t like, and hone your eye from there!


Do you have any tips for taking the perfect flat lay photo? I’d love to hear them!

To see more of my fun flat lay photos (and more!), be sure to follow me on Instagram if you aren’t already <3 xo

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126 Responses

  1. Love the images you’ve created here! Would be great to see a BTS time-lapse of you setting up a future flat lay.

  2. A million times YES to these tips! I started out my Instagram with strictly flatlays and could have seriously used more of this help to make my photos better. I’m still working to up my flatlay game, and I love how colorful yours are! I need to start adding more textures and colors to my photos πŸ™‚

    Stephanie // SheSawStyle.com

    1. Thanks, Stephanie! I had no idea you started IG off with only flat lays! That sounds like fun actually haha. I think they do a great job evening out my Instagram so it’s not just photos of me all the time πŸ˜›

  3. Love your aesthetic, Sharon. Great tips on how to take the perfect flat lay. Maybe I’ll decide to be more active on IG soon… πŸ™‚

  4. Amazing photos as always, Sharon! I can always count on you to teach me a thing or two πŸ˜‰ Have a splendid day x

  5. Tbh I could never have figured out you suffer from OCD, Sharon, so thanks for telling us that, haha <3
    Anyhow, to my astonishment I've only done one flat lay during my whole Insta career which is way weird in so many aspects as I'm both artistic and LOVE flay lays so basically I need to do more of them and learn from your great tips!
    Love,
    Thomas

    1. LOL the struggle is real! OMG can’t believe you’ve only done one flat lay! I like to throw them in my feed every now and then for variety’s sake. Your photos look great though, Thomas! xx

  6. I’ve only ever done one flat lay and I think it turned out okay! Yours are always amazing! I espeically love the ones where you play with texture, a trick I will have to try next time!
    Kyla
    wanderlust.com

  7. I’ve been wanting to get into product photography and this post has totally got me inspired! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚ x

    1. Ahh! If there’s any type of professional photography that I’d get into, it’s exactly that! Product photography πŸ™‚ Haha it can be quite fun and I think you should definitely go for it xx

    1. Thank you, Fe! That’s a great idea — thanks for that! Will have to work on your request soon πŸ˜‰ xx

  8. I completely agree that flatlay photos can take up a lot of time but at the same time it’s super fun. Lighting is absolutely key and it takes some practice for it to look perfect! I typically set aside a few hours within a week to dedicate to flatlay photos.

    – Jasmine K
    http://www.myeunoia.com

    1. Thank you dear! So glad you enjoyed the post. I totally agree… flat lays can be addicting and I love that I can take them pretty much whenever (even on a rainy day!).

    1. Hi Gennifer! Thank you so much for reading, and glad that you could agree with me about the color! Vibrancy is everything haha πŸ™‚ And you are right — sharp, high resolution images are a must especially if you plan on using the photo outside of Instagram πŸ™‚

  9. These are some great tips babe, they do take alot of time which I dont have much off, BUT I def want to start doing more of them now that I am back on insta πŸ™‚ xx

    1. Thank you so much, Abby! I wish my apartment had better lighting… it’s getting darker and darker now too with fall/winter here haha >__<

  10. Love these tips girl! I think that lighting and composition are both really important to making a photo look good πŸ™‚

  11. As a photographer myself, I totally agree that lighting really helps to create a good shot. Thanks for the tips!

  12. What amazing tips, and even better photos! You’re so talented, Sharon! Love seeing your images on Instagram xx

  13. These are all great tips and I love these flat lays you shot. Gorgeous! Sometimes I’m out and wanna do a flat lay,but the lighting doesn’t always play out to my favour, but I still take it and use editing apps to help me out. Haha. Thanks for sharing!

    Xo,
    Miki
    http://mikialamode.com

    1. Thank you, Miki! So glad that you found these tips helpful and relatable. Editing apps definitely can make a bad picture look good sometimes — it’s incredible. I’m with you on that one!

  14. Thank you so much for sharing these great tips, Sharon! I really needed them as I haven’t mastered flatlays at all!
    I love the idea of using textures (and macaroons – maybe that’s the eating part that appeals!) and I’m going to check out Snapseed and VSCO! (I can’t believe I’ve never even heard of them before!)
    Thank you so much!
    Julia x
    http://www.thevelvetrunway.com

    1. Thanks for reading, Julia! Glad you found the tips helpful. I definitely recommend checking both of those apps out! They are amazing πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks for your sweet comment, Linh! But you are great at what you do! Gotta give yourself more credit love xoxo

  15. Omg your flatlay game is seriously the best thing I’ve ever seen! Not only are your pictures super vibrant, but I love all of the different textures you okay with in each photo (shoutout to that orange silk pic with the blue booties!). Thanks for the awesome tips babe πŸ™‚
    -Michelle Sun (@missmisschelle)
    http://Www.missmisschelle.com

    1. Thank you, Julie! Don’t get me wrong… I do love a good marble shot haha but yes! Variety is key πŸ™‚ xx

  16. Great post and great tips! I did a few on my IG earlier this summer, but now that I’m shifting my direction and starting to blog more, I’m going to need this. Thanks for sharing!

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