In January, we featured some of our favourite minimalist Instagram accounts. As we continue to feed our Instagram addiction and yours too, another trend has recently been receiving a lot of attention, as well as chockfuls of hearts and likes from us. That thing called. “flatlay”.
Whether or not you know the official term for it, you’ve probably gushed over the gorgeous posts as much as we have, if not more. Not only has it become a bit of a thing on Instagram lately, it has become to big that there are even individual accounts and hashtags dedicated the tens of thousands of photo collages of objects on a flat surface.
From fashion bloggers to food bloggers, to travellers and your standard everyday person, flatlays are pretty handy to showcase your favourite things. But do you step up your Instagram game with the perfect flatlays?
Here are some tips and tricks:
Actually, this applies to most pictures, not just flatlay ones. Always try to go for the most natural lighting. Lots of natural lighting! But that doesn’t mean that you park your items and yourself in direct sunlight because it will cast nasty shadows if it’s coming in from an angle. Morning and late afternoon sunlight, especially, will cause harsh shadows over your picture. Best to avoid artificial light and dim lighting as well because it’s likely that you’d end up with under-exposed photos that even the best filter won’t be able to make up for graininess.
Avoid from “busy” backgrounds for the fear of overcrowding the overall look of your flatlay. In this aspect, less is more so always try to keep it simple with a neutral or plain background. Some of the best flatlay photos I’ve seen are those with purely black or white backgrounds. A bit of texture is fine to give the photo some depth but make sure it’s not from a heavily patterned background. Plain background will also allow you have space to add accessories and decorations, and really make the things in your shot pop. If you don’t have a proper background, get large pieces of coloured paper.
The very, very other important aspect to making a flatlay shot successful is to take the picture from a high angle. You also need to be kinda hovering directly over the top of your items for it to look flat. If it’s still hard to include everything into your shot while standing up, then get a step stool or find a higher platform. Just make sure that you don’t get your reflection or shadow in your shot. And make sure you don’t fall over while trying to get that perfect picture!
Composition is key
If you’re planning to do a fashion shot, fold clothes for structure – but not too perfectly. You will also need to go beyond just folding clothing items to keep it fresh and interesting e.g. add a tube of lipstick, stick a rose in a shirt pocket, place a bottle of perfume on the surface, angle that shoe to face the opposite direction, cuff your jeans like how you would wear them. Be sure to leave some space between items so that it doesn’t look too cluttered, and pay attention to the proportions e.g. balance out larger items with small ones to create some scale. Remember to shoot your picture in a square setting to ensure that everything fits in the frame.
Add a dash of fun
What if you’re a food blogger or an avid baker, you ask? Then you need to get messy! If you’re baking something, arrange some utensils around your focal item. For example, if you’re trying to take a shot of some cupcakes, stick a baking spatula or an oven mitt in there, or grab a handful of flour and scatter some cupcakes cups to make a bit of an “organised mess”. It’d also be nice if you left your cookbook open in the background.
Stick to a theme
Don’t stray away from your focus. Whether it’s in terms of colour, types of items, to commemorate occasions, in conjunction with a certain season, so on and so forth, be sure come up with a theme for your flatlay shot and stick to it as much as possible. For example, a monochromatic cap will probably not belong in a colourful food shot. This also comes handy when you want to refrain from over-cluttering your shot with too many ideas. If you have extra interesting ideas, keep them for your next flatlay picture(s).
Why let one shot make or break your picture? In fact, why settle for that one singular shot when you can take and have various shots to choose from? Things like flatlay pictures, especially, tend to be a process of trial and error so go ahead and be trigger-happy! Experiment by rearranging your items, test out as many backgrounds as possible, find the best lighting, so on and so forth. You may also choose to play with filters or correct the brightness/contrast/temperature levels of your flatlay shot after with VSCO Cam. And of course, remember, practice makes perfect.
Last but not least, have fun and keep experimenting until you get your most perfect, prettiest flatlay shots!
Featured image from here.