There are certain photo styles that have become iconic in the world of Instagram. The selfie, the latte art, and of course, the flat lay. A flat lay is the bird’s-eye shot of a set of styled photos on a clean background. Creating the perfect Instagram flat lay may look like a daunting task, but the following tips will make it easy for you to look like a pro.
Of course you’ll need a good camera in order to take your shots. I take most of my photos on my iPhone, but recently invested in a DSLR camera and can’t wait to play around with it for my flat lays.
As a self-proclaimed Instagram fanatic, I’ve come to learn a thing or two about taking the perfect Instagram flat lay photo. I love flat lays because you can incorporate so many different items from your daily life, from your favorite makeup products, to your coffee mug, to succulents, magazines, and so much more!
However, there is a method to the madness, and the following flat lay photography tips will help you in your journey to creating a beautiful Instagram feed!
1. Create a theme
Even though flat lays can have a number of different elements, it’s still important that they have an overlying theme. For instance, are you creating a flat lay about travel necessities? Or a flat lay for holiday makeup essentials? Whatever it is, make sure the theme is visually represented by the items you choose to put in your flat lay.
For a flat lay about travel necessities you could include items such as your passport, a camera, your wallet, a watch, lipstick, sunglasses, perhaps even a purse and shoes. Play around with it and make sure the end result portrays the theme to the viewer.
2. Shoot from up high
You’ll get a better shot of your flat lay if you shoot from up high. Use a sturdy chair, table top, or steps (safety first!) so that you can snap the perfect vantage shot. This is especially important if you want to have a lot of items in your flat lay, so you’re able to capture them all.
3. Use negative space
You don’t want your flat lay to ever looked cluttered. The best way to make sure there is not too much going on in your flat lay is to use negative, white space in the background. This will make it look easy and effortless, even if it took you a while to style it.
You can always add and take pieces away. I find it easier to start off with more and then remove items if you need to.
4. Color Palette
Your flat lay photos will also look best if the items follow a similar color palette. For example, pastels with greys and whites; yellows, oranges, and greens (think avocado and lox on toast with some lemon on the side); black and white; or blues, pinks and purples (think cotton candy).
These are just a few options, but you can play around with it until you get the right mix. You can often tell when colors do and don’t go together and you’ll get a better feel for it the more flat lays you put together!
5. Use a plain, clean background
Flat lays look really great on a solid, or mostly solid color background. White is always a safe bet, as well as wood or a marble design. Using a white background ensures your pieces pop and allows you to achieve the proper amount of negative space.
A simple background like polka dots or stripes can work too, but you want to make sure it doesn’t look too busy.
6. Editing Apps
I’ve written about the importance of editing apps before, but I can’t stress these enough! If you want your flat lay photo to look sharp, bright and for the background to look even whiter, you need to invest in an editing app like PicTapGo or VSCO Cam.
Not only will editing apps make your background look cleaner, they will also make the items in your flat lay pop with color. Editing apps make a world of difference.
7. Use Angles
You can use a traditional grid for your flat lays, or you can angle your items to give it a different look. Depending on the style and vibe you want to give off with your flat lay, you can choose whether you want it more straight-lined or more angled. If you have a lot of items you want to style, it usually works better to do angled since you can work more items in.
8. Shoot in natural light
Whenever I take flat lay photos, whether I’m at my home, restaurant, or elsewhere, I always shoot in the best light I can find. Natural light will give you the best color and photo so you have less editing to do. If you’re going to a café or restaurant and know you’ll be snapping pics for an Instagram flat lay photo, sit as close as you can to a big bright window!
9. Use a couple big statement pieces, then add smaller accessories
You don’t want to use too many big pieces in your flat lay. Let’s say you are doing an #ootd flat lay. Placing your jeans, sweater, hat, shoes, scarf, purse, and jacket is going to be too much. Instead, use two of those bigger statement pieces, let’s say jeans and a purse, and add in a bunch of accessories like sunglasses, a necklace, lipstick, some nail polishes, a watch, a phone case…you get the idea.
You can usually get away with fitting in three bigger items, but use your best judgement. If it looks over crowded with three, change it to two! It’s all about switching things up and figuring out what works best. Let your creativity shine!
10. Say yes to layering
Don’t be afraid to layer pieces in your flat lays! You can layer pens on an agenda, a lipstick on a magazine cover, sunglasses on your sweater, a cup of tea on a notebook. Get your creative juices flowing and layer away!
Layering will give your photo nice dimension and make it feel like your pieces really go together.
Creating the perfect Instagram flat lay is definitely an art you can master! Follow these tips and people won’t be able to resist double tapping!
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