Ah. Where to begin. Remember when you used to open up a magazine and flick through to the beauty editorials where lipstick would be smushed against a white backdrop? Or 5 different eyeshadows all in a pile in a row? Flatlays people, early flat lays. Somehow this trend evolved like a mild epidemic all over the instagram. I don't know how it happened, only that I was taken, like the zombie virus, I too wanted to lay something flat and take photos of it. I think the pretentious term is called still life photography. Anyhow...
Fancy learning how to lay things flat? Read on...
1. Pick a theme for your flay lay. It a beauty flat lay or a vegan dish? Showcasing different ballet flats? Finding a theme will make the creative process easier.
2. Find the light!
Channel your inner moth and go find the (natural) light. Depending on what you are going for different times of the day call for different types of light. Morning and early evening sunlight is usually best if you want to create 'mood'. If you want bright clear crisp shots then shoot mid afternoon as that is when the sun is at it's highest.
3. Play with the space, textures and surfaces
Imagine you are trying to make a shape, waves or curves, angles or gradients. Don't be basic and chuck everything on your bed sheets and don't be basic like me and use a white board. But if you need to start basic, using a white board can help. I bought mine from here.
Alternatively you can go semi basic and use a marble surface or even granite, it gives the products a more of a professional feel, but once again, make sure it's in theme with what you're trying to create. Wood and leaves are a great surface to flatlay salad dishes and ingredients, check out one of my fav bloggers Adrianna and her blog here she is an incredible baker who makes use of marble as a backdrop and even baking sheets.
4. From the top
I have discovered that the best angle to encapsulate all the products you are trying to display is from the top. I have experimented with angles (just no) but nothing is as effective as this. If you don't have the latest Sony or Olympus Pen with additional high spec features and tripods, then good old fashioned manual way will cut it. If your flat lay is on the floor, stand directly over your masterpiece, but be sure your shadow is not in the way. If you find you are casting a shadow, just switch sides and stand on the opposite side.
The higher you get the better the shot. You find that you will be able to encompass all the objects within the frame more easily than getting up close.
6. Editing tools (Where the real magic happens) I tend to use Snapseed, Afterlight and VSCO Cam religiously. They all have incredible enhancing features. I also start with the editing features first and if I want to create a stronger mood I opt for a filter. In this case, the images above and below have #nofilter. I find beauty and skincare flat lays need to be clear and bright and as close to natural elements as possible such as water and sunlight. (See pic below)
I hope these tips will help you on the way to more captivating flat lays and stay tuned for more how-to's, but only if you're interested in that sort of thing. Let me know your thoughts below.
Actress and Photographer/Blogger