Flat Lay photography is an insanely easy way to showcase awesome items you own, tell a story, and wow your Instagram followers. Flat Lay is simple to do, can be shot almost anywhere, and can be as simple as emptying your handbag, packing a suitcase or arranging the items on your desk. And, of course, all you need is your iPhone.
A few tips:
It helps to choose 2-3 unifying colors. This helps provide your image with a consistent theme all while on a neutral background.
Flat Lay is compelling because it brings a lot of disparate elements together. But it’s also about the narrative of your image, as conveyed by the things you select, and how you place them. It can be something as simple as “Sunday Brunch” or as expansive as “my trip to Europe,” but your photo should tell a story, and not only showcase off a collection of items.
When shooting flat lays, photographers often incorporate one larger item that anchors your image. The goal is for this primary element to unite the other, more disparate parts of your image. Try the opposite – using a blank space to unite your image and make it more interesting.
The best light is a soft, overhead light that’s bright enough to illuminate your image, but doesn’t blow out lighter colors. Avoid the urge to use a high-powered lamp to brighten the image; as long as you have enough light, you can raise the saturation afterward, when editing. A good tactic is simply to go outside, preferably in the morning, before the sun comes out in full force. The ideal weather conditions are a cloudy, overcast day, since you’ll get more neutral, balanced light.
Some of the best Flat Lays are the ones that mix an old item in with a newer one. If you’re shooting a modern “day at the office” Flat Lay with a laptop, headphones, and an iPad, feel free to incorporate a more analog item like a notebook, mechanical pencil, or even a typewriter. The contrast of new and old will make your photo stand out and stir up feelings of nostalgia.
After you’ve arranged and snapped pictures of your Flat Lay array, you’ll want to spiff them up in post-production. You can really add to your image by applying filters that increase your photo’s detail, highlight the colors you’ve chosen, and make the background of your image looks more compelling. You can focus on simple image correction and increase your photo’s brightness to make the colors pop a bit more, or adjust your image’s structure and contrast.
Adding text to your image is a great way to articulate the message you’re trying to convey, or provide a “mantra” for your image. Enlight’s Text > Type tool is an easy way to add a word or phrase to your image. A particularly cool effect to utilize is, within Text, to use the Blending > Overlay tool to have your text match the texture of the background or items beneath it. Be sure that your image isn’t too text-heavy – the best content shouldn’t be more than four or five words.