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Essential tips for creating a flat lay like a pro!

You’ve been seeing them for a while: Cool toned, aesthetic, visually pleasing pictures taken from the top, that make what’s being captured look perfect — almost unreal to the naked eye. Yes, you guessed it right, we’re talking about the flatlay — the holy grail of social media content. 

There’s an ongoing joke — If an influencer had breakfast, and didn’t even post a flatlay about it on Instagram, did it even happen? But all jokes aside, the world of social media today is flatlay central, and very rightly so, because it gives an opportunity to capture everything exactly how your eyes see it for the rest of the world. Think of it as a drone-Esque, highly engaging, a mirror image of your experience, if you must. 

If you often find yourselves wondering about the amount of work you have to put in to get a beautiful flat lay, let us tell you that it’s easier than you think. Having said that, all good things come to those who work for it, correct? 

There’s a rhythm to set up a flat lay that will take your breath away, one that only a few can master. It’s first necessary to know why and what you want to accomplish before even beginning this process. Here are some essential tips to keep in mind if you want your audience to go gaga over your heavenly shots-from-above (We always stan a flat lay kween or a king)! 

Are you ready?

Pick the spine of the flatlay wisely: Your background

Your picture is only as good as the impact it creates and the memory it leaves on the back of everyone’s mind. To truly ace your flatlay, pick a background that is clean, uncluttered, and is complementary to the products you’re going to place on top of it.

A piece of pro advice: Go for a background that has some sort of texture and a matte surface that won’t reflect and set the mood for your whole photo. It also helps to pick a simple yet consistent color palette, to avoid a mish-mash of a wide spectrum of colors that might get messy. 

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2.Find your ‘pièce de résistance’

The end goal of all flatlays is to tell a wonderful story. To weave true magic, it’s important to find your center piece, one that you want all eyes to go to. Find a hero product that you love, something that inspires you, which will help put that love for it back in the picture. Start by placing your hero element first, and then adding in others. You could also play around with how the hero relates to other major elements, and together this composition will act as the base framework for how you want other props to be showcased. 

A note to add here: Keep the lines clean, consider symmetry on both sides, and create space between each object to make it pleasing to the eye. 

Find your ‘pièce de résistance’

The end goal of all flatlays is to tell a wonderful story. To weave true magic, it’s important to find your center piece, one that you want all eyes to go to.

3. Decide on your supporting cast and layer for depth and volume

Finalise on the supporting elements that fit in with your main object, balance out the color and the composition of the image, and bring harmony. Once you start adding the other props, try and think in layers. Visualize a rugged newspaper, a magazine on top, a postcard, and then a cup of coffee to top it all off, beautiful, right?

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4. Lighting is everything

We’re sure you’ve heard that beautiful photography is all about the light. In most cases, soft natural light might be your best bet. Think next to the window, but avoid direct rays as those can be harsh and give out extreme contrast.Apt lighting will allow objects to cast shadows on certain parts of your background, creating dimension so that it doesn’t appear too flat. ​

If moody is the way to go, opt for darker surfaces and as less artificial light in the room as possible like the picture below.

5. Get high, then edit, and Voila, the next viral picture is ready!

The key to a great flat lay is to capture the photo from an angle that is parallel to your flat surface. Get directly above the object and position the camera right above the scene for a bird’s eye-view. 

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All images benefit from a little editing here and there, so don’t shy away from it! There are some great apps available free of charge, to help make your picture pop!

Just like any other art form or skill, perfecting a great flatlay is only going to come with more practice and time.  By knowing how to create movement, arrange and enhance objects, you will be an unstoppable flatlay-er. (We promise we aren’t making a flat-earther joke here). 

Once you get more comfortable, don’t forget to experiment with new methods or ideas and have fun. We guarantee that over time, you’ll develop a look and feel to your props, light, and images that are truly one of a kind. 

Image credits: Pexels.