How to #flatlay like a pro

When I created the Little List Of Mine blog and social media accounts one of the first emerging trends I really embraced was the flat lay. Now, more than two years on, that love for flat photography is as strong as ever!

The best way I can describe a ‘flat lay’ is it’s a style of photography that involves taking a picture directly above a series of objects traditionally laid out in a strategic design. They are stylish, detailed, and can be a creative way to shoot things like beauty products, accessories, food, homewares, books and magazines, and clothing.

There is just something about this style of photography, which has countless fans across social media, that appeals to me. 

I wrote an article a few years ago about how to have ‘fun with fashion flat lays’, and while the essential ideas remain the same, my personal style and experience has changed, so I have a few extra tips to share. 

Make the most of your flat lay:

  • Hero objects: I like to build my flat lays around one or two hero objects. Whether it’s my favourite magazine, a purse, a pair of shoes or a bunch of flowers, choosing feature objects helps you create a base for your flat lay. 
  • Feature colours: Colours are another great way to choose which items you add into your photo. Complementary colour schemes, matching shades and even contrasting tones can lift your photos and tie all your objects together. I also like to focus on metallic details and generally stick to either gold or silver accents. 
  • The right background: Consider the ‘theme’ of your objects when choosing the best backdrop to shoot them on. A clean crisp white is a great go-to background but I also love the warmth of my wooden table, linens with patterns, textures and prints, and even a serving tray from Country Road.
  • Spacing and structure: Some flat lays fit items together almost like a puzzle, will others are much less structured. My style seems to fit somewhere in between; essentially a slightly structured look. I also alternate between featuring lots of objects and just a handful depending on what mood and story I am trying to tell.
  • Change up direction: I am a big believer that a flat lay doesn’t have to fit perfectly into a set Instagram square. I often have objects coming out from a corner or trailing off out of the frame. Sometimes my objects will be quite angled or slightly random and I am never afraid to overlap!  
  • Natural light: Like all good photography, lighting is key. I love the look of natural lighting and try to make all my photos using it. This can present a challenge, especially during winter when the days are so short and light is at a premium. So when I do have a window of good light I literally open up the windows and get snapping.
  • Play with space: Some people like to fill in every space of the photo with objects while others keep big sections of space empty deliberately. Again, see what you like the best.
  • Experiment: Play around with your items to see what you think works best and what looks you style of flat lay you like. Just have fun with it and put your own personal spin on it.

If you are new to this style, I hope this inspires you to give flat lays a try. If you are a pro already, I’d love to know, what are your tips to creating the perfect flat lay?

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