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Wednesday, 20 February 2019

My Guide To Taking a Flatlay

Lately, I have really been enjoying taking flat lays to use on my Instagram and I feel like slowly, I am getting the hang of it! Quite a few of you have been asking about how I set up my flat lays and my decisions behind it, so hopefully today's post will answer some of your questions! Today's post is a little round up of my step to step guide on taking a flat lay, the thought and ideas that go behind it and also answering some of the most common questions that I get asked about this particular topic. Today's post is sponsored by Panasonic.



Choosing your setup 

Choosing what equipment you are going to shoot with and where you are going to shoot a flat lay is always the best way to start. You need to decide if you are going to be shooting with your phone or with a camera. I use both options when it comes to flat lays depending on what I'm shooting and what kind of quality I want for the image. Some images will look great if I take them on my phone but if I am wanting to capture a sharper image with lots of detail, I will often use my camera as I know I can get a clean shot. When setting up my flat lay, I always need to decide if I am using my tripod or not. Again, this depends on what kind of image you are shooting. If I am going to be involved in the frame in some way, then I won't use a tripod. But if it's just a shot of products, then I will always use my tripod as it works a lot better to get a stable and focused image. I can attach my phone and my camera to my tripod, so this works really well for me. I personally like to capture a few video clips as well as still pictures for my flat lays because I think this works well to share on my Instagram stories to go into more depth about a certain product or campaign. Panasonic offer some really great cameras if you are looking for something new to add to your camera collection or they also offer an amazing Mirrorless Camera if you are interested in capturing the video shots. Once the technical part is set up, then this is where the creativity starts.


Decide on the style of the image 

Making a decision on what you are going to shoot and having a vision of how you are wanting the flat lay is a starting point for most images and will help everything get rolling. I always have an idea of how I want the image to turn out, even before I have started shooting anything. If I know what product I am going to be shooting, then this helps me come up with ideas for the overall style of the shot. For example, If I have decided to shoot a flat lay where the main focus is a book, then I will plan everything else around this item, even down to the editing style. I personally think that there needs to be a theme with your flat lay and everything needs to fit into one. I often find it useful to work with colours as this can help an image blend together nicely. The style of the flat lay is a really important aspect. Is it going to be modern, clean, colourful, busy, basic, and so on. There are so many different options when it comes to shooting your flat lay and this is something that I really love about taking these types of images. I love being creative so having opportunities like this to create an image that is fit for Instagram, then this is something that I really enjoy doing and creating. If you are used to the Blogging world, then you will more than likely already have a vision in your head of how you want this flat lay to look and this is always a benefit.





Choosing the right props 

Once you have chosen the product that you are going to shoot, then choosing props to go with this in the image is the next step. If you purely just want to shoot the product by itself, then that's completely fine but you will still need to think about the background and textures within the image. When it comes to my own flat lays, I always tend to use a soft textured background that is either completely white or has lots of detail which becomes one of the main aspects of the photo. I think that there is always something in your house that you could use to be included in your flat lay. I often use my bedding, a dressing gown or a blanket as the background for my image. I think it works well for my images and I have choice of wanting detail or not. Once I have chosen my background, then I will place my main focus down and start to choose props to work around this. For my own flat lays, I always prefer to have at least a few props included in the image rather than just shooting the product by itself. I think that this works well for the style of my images and my Instagram page. Picking props that are a similar colour to the product is always the first thing that I look for. I think that lipsticks, perfume bottles, shoes, flowers, sunglasses and magazines are always my go to props for flat lays. My flat lays tend to be mainly beauty or fashion based so these types of props always work well for me. My suggestion would be to have a walk around your room or your house and see what you can find to include within the image. You could be really surprised about the things that might work. You have to remember that the whole prop doesn't have to be included within the frame, so if something really random has a nice corner or detailing on it, then you can just include that part within your image. 

Trial and error 

This is probably the most important step and the bit that will take the longest. Trial and error when it comes to flat lays is something that will always happen and take a bit of time before you get the right shot. You have to move things around constantly, take props out, put props in, change the angle, move things closer or further away and the list goes on. I personally think it's impossible to get the right shot the first time. I am constantly moving things around and trying out different options until I have got a shot that I am happy with. My camera roll is full of hundreds of images because I may have taken 30-40 images to get one flat lay image. But if you have a vision of how you want something to look, then this may take a few goes before you can get the right shot. I always like this part of it because it's all about being creative with your setup and choosing what will look best. Personally, I tend to take my flat lay's in square if I am taking it on my phone as this is usually how I will upload it to Instagram. Always having the frame view on is really helpful to see where things should be positioned and how it will look in the final shot. Just put everything down and start having a play with where things should go and what angle they should be positioned in. It will be a trail and error process and I think this is all part of it. It's about working the creative mind but getting the right flat lay in the end makes it all worth it!

Editing 

Once you have finally got the right shot you are happy with, then it comes to the editing part. As I have previously mentioned in some of my other posts, I edit everything on my Iphone. The two apps that I use the most are called VSCO and Lightroom and these are both free apps that you can download. There are some in app purchases if you want certain effects and so on but personally, I have everything I need to edit my images with what the apps have to offer. I will sometimes have presets already saved from previous images or flat lays which I can use again to edit a new image and this often works quite well. But normally, I will start editing the image from scratch as editing is something that I enjoy to do. Again, this point links back to the start as the editing all depends on the style of the image and how you wanted it to look. It may be that you want the image black and white, to have a grain effect, to have a really high saturation level, to be quite an unfocused image, and so on. In terms of editing your image, it's all about going through the different tools on the app and making the adjustments needed. I personally don't really use the effects on the apps as sometimes I think they can completely change the image. I start making my way through the brightness tool, saturation, contrast, sharpness, shadows and you know how the rest goes. I will always start by using the VSCO app and this has been one that I have used for a while now. If there are any large areas of white in my image then I will also use the Lightroom app afterwards. This will then allow me to even brighten up the image further or make the white's within the image even whiter. This isn't a step that you have to do but I think as a Blogger, we love our white's within our Instagram images to be super white!




I wanted to answer some of the questions that I have had in regards to flat lays...so here are 3 questions! But, if you do have anymore that I didn't answer in this post, then feel free to get in touch as I am always happy to help or answer any questions that you might have for me.

'How do you get the best lighting for a flat lay?'

This question depends on what kind of day it is and what you are shooting with. I think that shooting in natural lighting will always be the better option and give you the better outcomes. But, if this isn't something you can do because you're shooting after work or in a darker room, then this can still work too! I think that using your flash on a phone or a camera can work really well. I sometimes struggle with flash with some products depending on the textures but if you are shooting the right products, then flash can work really well to get a great flay lay. I will always try my best to shoot during the day as the natural lighting makes the photos look so much sharper and nicer to edit. If you have to use artificial lighting, then just make sure that the angles are right and editing will always help it look so much better. Making sure that you have the right angle is beneficial for not getting any shadows in the shot and making sure that you capture the right detail. As I mentioned earlier, taking flat lays is all about being creative so if you have to use artificial light, then this can be a good thing as it's s little photography challenge to get the right shot! 

'How do you plan what accessories go into the image?'

As I have touched on this topic in the post already, I will kind of give a rounded summary which I think might be useful advice. In terms of choosing other bits and pieces to go in your photos...it's three simple things to help you get the right shot. 1. Use things that you already have around the house. There is always something you already have that can be used in shots! Corners or specific detailing on something will work as well as other products and decor bits. 2. A colour scheme is always a good place to start. Trying to stick with either one specific colour or colour palette will always help to create a rounded image. 3. Be creative! Picking the accessories to include in your image is something fun to style and create. Playing around with different bits and pieces will always work to finally help you get the right image!


'What are your favourite products to shoot for a flat lay?'

This is a great question...one that I have never really thought about! I do really love shooting pretty much any kind of flat lay. Whether it's focused on a beauty product, a book, a perfume...so many things! But I think one of my favourite things to shoot a flat lay for is a DVD. I know that is a super random answer but for a big film lover like me...it's true! I love looking at film covers and I really do appreciate an amazing cover for a DVD. Choosing what kind of set up to shoot in, picking props that fit in well with the theme of the DVD, choosing a colour palette to match the DVD cover...these are all things that I love to do when shooting a DVD flat lay. 

So there we have it! That's a quick and easy guide into taking a flat lay for your blog or your Instagram page. I didn't want to make anything too detailed and complicated because in all honesty, it doesn't need to be! Taking a flat lay is all down to the individual and how they want it to look. It always changes depending on what you are taking a photo of and what it is being taken for. The main part is to get creative with it and go through the trial and error process because in the end, you will get the right shot that you hoped for. I think the thing I love about taking these types of photos is that I have complete control over the making of the image and how the final image looks. When it comes to trying to explain to someone how you want an image of yourself to look when it's envisioned in your head...this is quite a difficult thing to do. So, because you're taking an image of something that isn't you, you can usually get the image you had pictured because you have control over all the decisions. I really hope some of you found this post useful! If any of you have taken any flat lays recently, then please leave me a link down below or send me them on Instagram as I love seeing how people get creative with taking their flat lays. Some people have a really good eye for these types of images so I am always happy to see them. 

I will be back again next week with a brand new post... 

Kellie xx
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1 comment

  1. Thanks for sharing your flatlay tips, they are so helpful!
    Carissa | http://carissalam.com/

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