We’ve all seen the perfect flat lay. Marble or wooden backgrounds with gorgeous items placed neatly for presentation. Beautiful light coming through, and you’re just like “HOW SWAY?” I’ve got you! To achieve a clean look I’d start by purchasing a versatile and minimal background. I use the following:
These are purchases you can make that will last a while, but you can also use things like bedroom linens, dining tables, pretty flooring, rugs, etc. I learned about marble contact paper from my friend Patience of @inkandfable. Patience displays some of the most gorgeous flat lays I have ever seen. They are clean, crisp and basically goals. I use this paper for everything. I have a roll at home and a roll I carry around in my car for when I travel.
If you’re going to keep it at home I would recommend sticking the contact paper to a foam board like this one. This ensures that it stays in place and it also provides a flat surface for you to shoot on. Honestly, that foam board is a life saver. When I take the paper with me on the road it’s oftentimes hard to find a flat surface near great window light. That’s your next tip. Window light is EVERYTHING. It’s natural, gorgeous and incredibly easy to work with. I photograph most of my flat lays on my iPhone X. This phone is already pretty great at working in low light, but natural light leaves room for easy editing.
When showing off a product or photographing a filler, I usually have the following on hand.
In the flat lay above I used my marble contact paper, blush carnations, fresh eucalyptus, lavender and a copy of Radiant Magazine’s latest issue I picked up at Barnes and Noble for twenty bucks. I love supporting Women-owned businesses. I especially love supporting businesses run by women of color so this was a no-brainer. Plus my girl Yvonne is on the cover. Even better! After I was done with this I went ahead and wrapped my flowers up. If I set them in cool room, even without water, I can get about another week of use out of my carnations and the same for my eucalyptus. The lavendar will last forever but it’s a bit grainy and messy.
Now let’s talk food. Everyone loves the perfect #onthetable photo. Plus, you have to take a bomb photo of your food or how else would anyone know that you ate? Food is a lot easier to flat lay because it’s already on a table, and chances are if you’re at a restaurant, the presentation is beautiful and all you have to do is stage the table.
When it comes to food photos, I always wing it. Now yes, the photographer in me will always ask for outside seating if available and or window seating. You know, for the light. I also always try to make it my own by throwing in my wallet, shades, and more than likely my funky nails. If I’m with another person I have them put their hand in my photo or not. They’re usually down for the cause.
I’ve become a pro at overhead shots without having to stand up, but don’t be afraid to stand up and take a photo of your table. The best way to get a shot that isn’t slanted is to hold your phone or camera over the table as straight as possible.
When I’m home, I use our cutting boards and throw in some pretty dish towels for aesthetics. Homegoods, TJ Maxx, Target (don’t go there alone unless you have mastered the art of self-control) all have super cute kitchen accessories that you can obviously use but will also up your food photo game. If I’m sharing a recipe or photographing something I made, I try to add some of the ingredients into the flat lay. It adds a little to the image while also clearly showing what you used. For lighting, we have a small window in our kitchen right above the sink, and so I always place the cutting board there. I’ll usually shoot for lunchtime when the sun is at it’s highest. You can use artificial lighting but no one is trying to do the most for the gram. Calm down. However, that’s all personal preference.
I hope these tips helped. My flat lay skills aren’t perfect, but they work for me. I’m always looking at inspo by searching the #flatlay hashtag on instagram, or searching for flatlays on pinterest. If you’re not following me there, you totally should. Click HERE to be Pinterest friends.