Once a term mostly used to describe photos of fashion items ‘lying flat’ on a surface, the term ‘flat lay’ now encompasses just about any image containing an artful arrangement of objects shot from above. There’s no denying that flat lay images are hugely popular on platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest, so mastering this trendy technique is high on most people’s wish lists!
The good news is that by keeping a few tips in mind when photographing and editing flat lay images, you too can easily turn into a flat lay photography pro (thanks to the help of BeFunky)! Here’s how:
Firstly, why the ‘flat lay’?
It isn’t just the Instagram savvy who can benefit from arranging objects in an aesthetically pleasing way before snapping them. Bloggers are also looking to this trend to ramp-up their visual content in striking and creative ways, while brands are opting for the humble flat lay to showcase their products in a unique light.
Tip #1: Choose a theme
Whether you’re photographing an assortment of food, clothing, flowers, or whatever else takes your fancy, it’s always important to have a theme so that your image is cohesive. It may be something as simple as the same shade of pink (or any other color that your heart desires), or perhaps other categories such as similar pattern, texture, or shape. You can even encompass a broader theme, such as a season, or perhaps even a setting including your breakfast table, office desk, or the beach. The sky is your limit!
Tip #2: Experiment with arrangement
While some flat lays look great with a ‘strewn about’ or chaotic appearance, you can almost guarantee that the photographer still thought very carefully about the arrangement and how each element of the flat lay would look through the camera lens. Don’t be afraid to try multiple arrangements in order to capture the flat lay which looks best. Perhaps you prefer your flat lay images to have a very structured and neat look, while others enjoy a more ‘organic’ or natural appearance. Experimentation is the key!
Tip #3: Natural light works best
Perhaps the most important tip of all is to utilize natural light when capturing your flat lay on camera. This is particularly vital if you’re using a white or light background for your image. Which brings us to my next point…
Tip #4: Backgrounds are just as important
Choosing the background of your flat lay is another factor that you’ll want to take into consideration. Do you want a rustic white wooden background or is a crisp white backdrop more your thing? Would you like to play around with different textures, such as wool, faux fur, grass, or pavement? I like to keep the background of my flat lays cohesive with the objects in the image. For example, a flat lay image of my desk would include a plain white background, but a cozy winter themed image will include the objects assembled on wooden floor boards (as pictured above).
Once the hard work of arranging and capturing your flat lay has been completed, it’s on to the fun stuff – perfecting your image through editing! I use the free BeFunky Photo Editor to make my flat lays picture-perfect using the following tools:
Tool #1: Brightness
Even when you utilize natural light, you may still find that your flat lay image isn’t as bright and crisp as you would like it to be. The Brightness function is perfect for giving it that much-needed boost.
Tool #2: Highlights
This tool is especially helpful when you photograph objects against a plain white or light background and it’s definitely my go-to editing tool to erase any unwanted shadows.
Tool #3: Crop
I choose to capture my flat lay from high above to ensure that everything important is in the frame and I then crop out unnecessary parts of the image during the editing stage.
Tool #4: Saturation
If your image needs a little extra oomph, I’d suggest using the saturation tool to bump-up the colors. It definitely makes the image more eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing.
These are just 4 of the tools from the BeFunky Photo Editor that I find myself using the most when editing my flat lay images, however there’s a whole range of others that you might need to use. Feel free to have a play around with each to see what helps you to achieve your desired flay lay look!
If you loved the tips in this article, then you'll also love reading about how to create a signature Instagram style!
Ready to perfect your flat lay image? Get editing below: