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Tips For Taking Better Flat Lay Photos.



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Need a few ideas for your product photos?

Also known as ‘flat lay’ photos. If you are looking for ways to take better flat-lay photos – I’m here to help! Having a game plan is great if you need to take your own photos of products or want better photos to share on social.  

Design better flat-lay photos!

If I can do this – You can do this!

Now, let me point out (in case it’s needed here) that I’m not a pro photographer. But I have found several time-saving ideas that work well for my business.

Wood backdrops for better flat-lay photos!

Great Backdrops make Better Flat-Lay Photos

First: Find a good, on-brand, backdrop and keep it handy. My favorite options are plywood boards, painted white or another brand color, or a board like the one above made by gluing several fence boards together and painted. 

You can get small, sample-size paints mixed to exactly your brand colors at a hardware store near you! This is great as a sturdy surface if you find yourself moving and chasing the light. For something more transportable and storable, I love canvas. So much in fact, that I have an entire Skillshare class about canvas backdrops. Watch it here! (If you aren’t on Skillshare you can join with that link and get a free month to watch as many classes as you like!)

Backdrops for better flat-lay photos!

Props and Supplies

Props and Supplies: Find objects that support the story you are telling in your photos. These could range from sticks, leaves, flowers, and other natural elements to pencils, paintbrushes, and art supplies. I keep a ‘junk drawer’ of items I’ve collected for their various properties to use when applicable.  Large wood clothespins. Unique paintbrushes. Glass watering spray bottle for plants. Dried petals (no Amazon link for these 😉 Office supplies that are on-brand colors. Unique and random metal finds. Anything with a unique shape, texture or finish can add depth and interest to your photos.

Gathering props for a photo shoot

Balance and Flow in your Flat-Lay Photos

Balance and flow: Don’t forget this in your photos! Better balance and flow will take them from meh…. (my son’s new favorite phrase) To wow! I like to think in diagonal lines – drawing the eye across the photo, but with some movement. Also think about having some white space, or breathing room in your photos.  You may want to take photos of the same layout from several different angles to see which translates best before rearranging your layout. If you can create a line through the photo – a linear element or line up a few objects, this adds visual interest to your photo. Another thing – try grouping objects in a way that works to draw the eye into the focal point, rather than distracting and drawing the attention away.

Balance and flow in the styling of flat lay photos

Find Great Lighting

Lighting: Good consistent lighting is essential! Natural daylight is always my preference. If it is available, always use natural light! If it is not available, my favorite solution is the Canvas Lamp. It holds your phone, sheds light on the subject, and has several light temperatures and intensities! It’s a solid investment!

On the topic of lighting – one of my favorite and easiest ways to add interest to a photo is to find shadow patterns to fall over the flat lay. Make sure it enhances the photo, and try several angles here again. This is why I love a sturdy board as a backdrop – to easily reposition the arrangement and chase the light. Or shadows! 

Great lighting and shadow patterns are ideal for your photos

Tell a Story in your Flat-Lays

Story: How can you tell a story in your photo? A story will help the audience connect to the subject or idea you are sharing. Even just the suggestion of a story will draw them into the main object or idea. Add something a little unexpected here to capture their attention! And make sure you have enough contrast to make the subject interesting.

Flowers and great photo backdrops

Last tip: Have some fun with your photos!!

Last tip: Have fun with it! It doesn’t have to be hard – think about how you can let it be easy. Set aside some time to allow yourself to play, make a mess, and stage many photos at one time! The more you do this, the quicker you will learn how to take better flat-lay photos! By setting aside time to take a lot of photos at once, you can really get creative and only have to clean up the ensuing mess once. Or maybe it is only me that creates a mess in this creative process??

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Hi, I'm Jennie

Artist and designer, adventure lover with a side of homebody and flower gardener.

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