How to Take Better Flat Lay Photos for Instagram

Sep 2015
Photo Credit: @kristinclarkfsu

Whether clean and simple or are complicated and ornate, flat lay photos are the current “it” trend on Instagram. In this format, the photographer lays out a bunch of items, then takes the shot looking directing down on the scene.

Want to create some flat lay images of your own? Here are some steps to create beautiful images for Instagram and beyond!

Stick with a theme.

There’s nothing more off-putting than a flat with too much going on, so show the viewer exactly what you’re trying to say with one theme. Whether you’re sharing the scene from an outdoor adventure, a weekend getaway or a day in the office, keep with the items and layout you’d use or find in that setting.

Find a basic background.

To let your products shine, pick a background that won’t distract your viewers. White backgrounds are popular choices because they help to help show the true colors of your products, but other choices like wood, concrete, stone and linens can help bring some texture into the mix.

Gather the right items.

Pick a few key items for your shot, then complete the image with small accessorizing touches that fall within your story and color palette. It also can be fun to embrace texture in your shots, and it makes for a more visually interesting shot. To add this element, experiment with flowers, small colorful fruits, jewelry or different types of fabric.

Arrange for a better look.

Naturally flat items (like magazines, photographs and books) always look great, while other objects might come off as saggy, deflated or bulky. If your hero product falls into the latter bunch, take special care to arrange it in a flattering way and add texture with other areas of the scene.

Whatever the situation is with the products you’re shooting, its important to leave some breathing room between your objects to prevent the photo from looking too cluttered. Also, tack down any round or oddly shaped items to make sure they stay where they are supposed to be.

Snap mindfully.

The ‘square’ function of the camera is a great template for you to arrange the flat lay, and it can help you to avoid surprises when it’s time to crop the image. Natural light also is key, so grab a spot outdoors or by a large window, then position yourself in a way that avoids lurking shadows.

Nobody jumps on the scene with mastery for this type of photography, so study up on what others have done and take enough shots to give yourself some options. Like any skill, you’ll get better at flat lay photography the more you practice!

Do you have any secrets for taking great images on Instagram? Share them in the comments.

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