5 Steps To A Great Flat Lay
1. Find The Light
Natural light is always the best for lighting your photos. When you are looking for a location to set up, find a window that is letting in as much light as possible.
Bounce the light onto your set up by using a white board or a tri-fold board you can find at the dollar store.
2. Remove Distractions
A great flat lay has focus and tells a story. What is the story you are trying to tell? Are you travelling? Are you enjoying a sunny day with a coffee and newspaper? Is it your wedding day? Gather as many details as you can that tell this story and have them close at hand. Remove everything that is unnecessary, such as napkins, keys.
I like to shoot on a clean white background. At home, I use an art board. You can find these at art stores, such as Curry’s or Michaels. On wedding days, I will bring along a smaller piece that you can pick up at the dollar store or use an extra sheet. Iron out the wrinkles (remove the distractions!) and voila!
3. Create Dimension
Let’s say the story you are trying to tell is about your upcoming trip. We’ve all seen the shot with your passport + headphones or a cup of coffee. What else could you use to tell the story? What about a map of your destination? Or your travel itinerary, or tickets to a game or show you’re going to see. All of these details will add dimension to your photo.
I always advise my brides and grooms to gather as many of these details for their wedding day. Details such as your ring, your ring box, your shoes, your veil, earrings and shoes tell a big part of the story too. Sometimes these details fit with the old adage of something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. Sometimes these details are heirlooms passed from generation to generation, such as your grandmother’s pearls or your grandpa’s watch. Include them, as well as your complete invitation suite for your photographer to capture. You and your family and friends have likely put a lot of thought into each detail and item you will be using on the day so it’s worth it to have these details captured.
4. Experiment with Layers
Once you have all your items set up in front of you, experiment with moving things around. You can create different layers by elevating some objects by placing a small object underneath. You can run a ribbon that matches your colour scheme over, or around your set up. Other items that help create layers include flowers, candles, leaves, notebooks and pens.
5. Look For Balance
Whether your style is minimal or full of lush details, balance is important for a great flat lay. Try to pick only a few colours to showcase and create focus. Play around with different layouts. Add things, remove things, move things around and capture all the different variations. Point things all in one direction (even try diagonally for a new perspective!), or have a co-ordinated chaos. Don't forget to include white space as it can make the difference between an image that looks co-ordinated vs cluttered. Then, take a break before you review your images. It helps to get a break before picking the image to edit and post.
Add your own light: I like to brighten up my photos just a little bit more by adding a flash. I point my camera down at my set up and my flash up at the ceiling. The flash is set to a low light setting as it is not going to light your whole photo, just bring your shadows up a bit.