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Library of Inspiration

Laying it out for those flat lays

The organised and clean approach of the flat lay allows creativity and execution by exalting all elements of the shot in an all-encompassing manner. The flexibility and ingenuity that photographers can express through this format make flat lays the ideal canvas for just about any theme.

However, it’s not just about randomly placing objects and shooting from top down. Much consideration has to be put into framing an exquisite composition. Here are some quick pointers to get started on these seemingly simplistic yet aesthetically pleasing projects.

Getting Started

A great start to any project is the planning phase. Start by searching for inspiration on websites like Pinterest or Instagram. Keep an eye out for styles and references that piques the interests of you and your audience. With that, we can establish the focus of the photoshoot while we carry on with the narrative.

The Necessities

Equipment-wise, a tripod with an extended arm is your best bet. It allows you to position your camera right on top of the shot and ensures the same stable height throughout the shoot. Furthermore, it frees your hands for adjusting the placement and orientation of the objects, locking the camera’s position in place.

Props are crucial for setting the tone of your flat lays. Depending on your objective and theme, props help to fill in the gaps and cast the spotlight on your subject. Look to assemble a sizable inventory of props that complement your focus, switching them around to achieve the desired look. Consider sticking to a dedicated colour palette that provides a neat finish. Playing around with different hues changes the feel of your photo and the way your subject is presented. Find a combination that will make your photo stand out in a social feed.

Play around with the textures and layering. By changing up sections of the backgrounds, it gives your composition more complexity and character. Props that provide irregularities in texture such as mats, cloths, glass, stone or wood gives the extra zing that lets your flat lay stand out. These can even define the mood from classy, rustic to whimsical.

As with many forms of photography, natural lighting is desirable when shooting flat lays. To get the best out of natural lighting, experimenting with how the light shines across at different timings is crucial to produce the coveted results for shadows and brightness. Artificial light, like a soft and diffused light source, can be used to prevent shadows and when natural lighting is not available in the studio or night settings. To improve the lighting, one can also use a whiteboard as a reflector to bounce light and evenly lit the flat lay.

Additional hands-on deck can relieve you of many woes. Constantly rearranging objects and moving around can be stressful, so the extra person can make the ambience more playful and relaxing. They can even be featured in the flat lay itself, providing an element of movement and action that would be difficult to attain alone.

While the concept of a flat lay appears simple at first glance, there is significant time and effort needed to create one that does justice to its subjects. Any change in the angle, location or brightness can drastically alter the end result. Whether you are trying to promote a product, draw attention to a cause or express your creativity, flat lay photography hits all the right notes, and conveys your message in an attractive and pleasing manner.