A Quick Guide To Photography: Flat Lay Photography

Flat lay photography is my new obsession! I've done a handful of flat lays in the past but recently, I've been using them often here on my blog and on my Instagram. They're pretty easy to put together and they look great on an iPhone or a fancy DSLR camera, so it's a win-win for all. 

(For a list of my fave photography gear before you begin, click here.)

Flat Lay Photography

what is a flat lay?

A flat lay is a display of items laid out on a flat surface. It's as simple as that!


why flat lays?

Flat lays are a great way to display or feature products or just to show what you're up to! They're aesthetically pleasing when done right and they're fun to create. I use them here on my blog for fashion related posts (like this and this) and on my Instagram to help create a beautiful feed and to keep things simple. 


think about aesthetics & have a theme in mind

Flat Lay Photography

With flat lays, the possibilities are endless. In order to have a cohesive flat lay, think about aesthetics. Why are you taking the picture? What is the message you want to send? Create a theme around the answers to those two questions. You could photograph items that are all the same color. You could choose items that are all varieties of the same thing. You could photograph one item or many items. Your theme could be minimalist or it could be sparkly or it could simply be a flat lay full of items that describe your day. Whatever it is, your background and the items will follow this theme! In this flat lay, I'm displaying the items I carry around with me every day.


choose your background

Flat Lay Photography

White backgrounds are my jam, but think outside the box. You could use marble, wood, a black surface, a colored surface, a rug (like above), the sheets on your bed, or pretty much any other flat surface to lay your items out on. My suggestion would to keep the background simple. Anything that's too busy will probably take away from the items you'll be displaying.


choose your items

Flat Lay Photography

Stick to the theme. I like to choose just one or two items to display for my flat lay's to keep it really simple, but it's really up to you! I also like to throw in some unexpected items too. Most of the time, they end up being plants (LOL my life). You'll notice in some of my flat lay's for the blog that I've thrown in some dried plants or some succulents just to add an extra element. 

Once you choose your items, lay them out on your flat surface. I either space items out equally (like above) or, if I'm using clothes/accessories or pictures in my flat lay, I layer them on top of each other. 

This flat lay is all beard products (and might be used later for a post by my handsome hubby).


take the picture

Stand above your flat surface and center your items, then snap the picture! You can stand on a chair if you need to. 


tips for getting the best flat lay results

1. Make it yours, get creative, and develop a style! This chick is a great example of unique flat lay style!

2. Use paper or poster board to create a faux background. Often times, the small, white table I use isn't big enough to fit all of my items. As an alternative, I lay wrapping paper out on the floor or bed or use a poster board to give me more space. I've also heard of people covering foam board in contact paper. This gives you endless background options and makes it easy to develop a flat lay style!

Flat Lay Photography
Flat Lay Photography

3. Get the lighting right. Take your photo in a naturally lit room. Natural light is going to give you natural coloring.  If you take your picture under florescent lights, the coloring will be way off. 

4. Edit the picture. To some of you, this might seem like common sense. But to others of you...you're like...do whaaaaa?? Bump up the brightness and add some contrast. If you're not sure what to use to edit, check out my guide to iPhone editing apps. They are probably the most beginner friendly. 


good luck mastering flat lays!