I’m really excited about today’s guest post. You probably know I’m a big fan of flatlay photography which I use to create much of my art and illustrations. There’s a handful of accounts on Instagram that have helped me develop my flatlay work.
“Every image should tell a story and I’ve made it my mission to help boutique brands connect with their ideal clients by making their stories shine.”
One of my favourites being the professional photographer and talented content creator, Connie Chan aka @whatshepictures. So I was thrilled when Connie agreed to share some of her pro photography flatlay tips on the blog today.
Over to you Connie…
The Fashion for Flatlay
Flatlays are one of the most popular styles of photography in social media today. As a professional photographer, I shoot flatlays for brands every day in my studio with a whole collection of gear, props and backgrounds to choose from. But you don’t need all those expensive resources to shoot a great flatlay. You can do them right in your home using everyday items. It’s one of the reasons why so many people love shooting them.
If you’ve never shot one before, or if you’re looking to take your flatlay game to the next level, here are my top 5 flatlay tips that you can start doing today.
Top 5 Flatlay Tips
1) Lighting is Everything
The most popular way to light a flatlay is to use soft window light. It’s the easiest and most accessible light to use at home, and best of all, it’s free. When you shoot your flatlay, make sure it’s fairly close to your window making sure that no direct rays of sunlight fall on your surface. This creates a beautiful, even light without any distracting, harsh shadows.
Even with soft window light, your shadows may still feel too dark. Try standing a white foam board next to your flatlay opposite to your window. This will bounce light back into the shadows of your set. It’s the secret to getting even lighting in flatlays. You can get white foam boards from most office supply and craft stores, and they only cost a few dollars each.
2) Your Camera Is Only A Tool
I’m a firm believer that the photographer takes the photo, not the camera. You don’t need an expensive, professional camera to take beautiful photos. A lot of Instagrammers do all their photography on their phones. If you’re using your phone, turn on the grid function to help you line up your props in your flatlay. You can even select the square crop on your phone so you can see exactly how your image will look when cropped for Instagram.
If you’re using a DSLR camera, it’s important to choose a lens that works for your situation. I use a 24-70mm Nikon lens, but I try to shoot as close to 50mm as I can in order to limit image distortion. The wider your lens, the more you’ll distort your image. This often means standing on a chair to get high up over your flatlay to get the whole thing in frame. If possible, place your flatlay on the floor. It makes getting that bird’s eye view that much easier.
3) A Tripod Can Be Your Best Friend
If you shoot with a DSLR camera, you might want to try using a tripod to shoot flatlays. It’s much easier on your back if you don’t have to keep holding a heavy camera in an awkward position over and over again. Your back will thank you for it.
A tripod also means you can use a slower shutter speed without risking camera shake (when your image is blurry because you moved the camera too much). You might want to do this if your light source isn’t very bright and you don’t want to increase your ISO. Increasing your ISO can make your images look grainy so a slower shutter speed while using a tripod could be a better solution to low levels of light.
4) Stick To A Colour Palette
A well-defined colour palette in your flatlay creates bold visual impact. If you’re not very confident with creating strong colour palettes, try to pick only 1 or 2 complimentary colours and then add white and black (or maybe grey) to create a simple colour palette. If you want to include metallics, it’s best to stick to only 1 metallic shade such as silver or gold and not mix both into the same flatlay. Too many metallic shades can look too busy and non-cohesive.
5) Know Your Why
Always know the reason behind every photo you take. This is probably the most important tip for flatlays and all photographs of any kind. What’s your goal for creating your photo? Keep your goal in mind when styling your flatlay so your final image stays true to your original intent.
Think objectively when looking at your finished flatlay. Will your views know what message you’re conveying in the first few seconds after seeing it? Sometimes a few seconds is all the time you have to capture the attention of your viewer. Sometimes it’s less. The clearer your message is depicted in your flatlay, the more likely your audience will receive that message.
It takes lots of practice to learn how to see your images objectively, the way your audience sees it, but like so many things in life, the more you practice the better you become. So keep shooting and then shoot some more, and pretty soon you’ll become a flatlay pro.
Thank you so much to Connie for sharing these top 5 flatlay tips today.
You can see more of her work on her website WhatShePictures.com. Her blog is choc full of flatlay photography and styling advice too. Plus Connie regularly shares tips, tricks and her latest work on her beautiful @WhatShePictures Instagram account.
If you would like to learn more about flatlay styling you may also be interested in my 5 Simple Floral Flatlay Design Tips post. Plus learn basic design principles to make your own images really stand out in my design posts on Symmetry and the rule of thirds.
Have an inspired day
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