Unless you’re a stranger to the internet and social media, you’re probably seeing flat lay photography gracing blogs and Instagram feeds on the daily. A flat lay is simply a photo of objects arranged on a flat surface, captured from directly above. Some people refer to this angle as a bird’s eye view, and it’s a great way to showcase everything from product photography to your latest cup of tea.
Flat lay photography sounds like a pretty easy feat, but it’s quite the contrary! Since flat lays have objects laid out flat against a background, you can’t rely on a subject moving in front of you to create character and intrigue. In order to create movement, you have to master the lighting, object arrangement, layering, color, and texture.
While there is a rhythm to setting up the perfect flat lay, we’re here to show you everything you need to know - from setting the scene to editing your flat lay photos to perfection with BeFunky’s Photo Editor! Following the tips below, you’re about to become a pro at creating captivating flat lay photography. Let’s get started, shall we?
Five Steps To Capturing Perfect Flat Lay Photos
The ultimate goal of any flat lay (or photo in general!) is to tell a story. The objects you choose to set the scene will help convey the message you’re wanting to portray. The magic of flat lay photography is that it allows you to utilize many different objects in a unifying way. With your goals in mind, aim to choose objects of varying sizes and shapes and choose 2-3 unifying colors to create a cohesive environment for your shot. When you’ve determined your goals and have gathered the objects that will help you achieve it, follow these five easy steps:
Step 1: Find A Flat Surface
Flat lays can be captured on a dining or coffee table, a desk, couch cushion, your bed, or the floor. As long as the surface you’re shooting on is relatively flat, you’ll be starting off on the right foot.
Flat lay photography works really well when there are many items laid against a blank background, free of distracting patterns or textures. If the surface you are working on is not neutral in color or texture, find a baking sheet, use the natural texture of your table, or find a neutral colored piece of foam core to place over your flat surface.
Step 2: Arrange Your Objects
A great photograph creates movement within the frame. The way to create movement in a flat lay is through object placement and lighting.
For object placement, rather than placing all of your objects in the center of the shot with a border of negative space surrounding them, arrange your objects so that they >
Depending on your objects, you can arrange them in a straight line, grid, follow the rule of thirds, or arrange them on an S-curve (as pictured in the muffin photo above). To create S-curve placement, arrange your main objects in the shape of an S and use smaller props to fill in the space along the S-curve. In the muffin photo, your eye naturally focuses on the brightest part of the frame, which is the paper towel and muffin crumb, then follows the S-curved path of the muffins tipped out of the pan.
Step 3: Harness The Power Of Light
Position your flat lay scene close to an open window or somewhere that receives a lot of natural light. Make sure to place yourself facing the light or stand to the side of the light. Light will allow objects to cast shadows on certain parts of your background, creating dimension so that it doesn’t appear too flat.
Looking at your scene, determine what you want the focal point of the shot to be. Make sure that the focal object is what your eye is drawn to first when taking the photo, being mindful of where you place it and how the light hits it.
Step 4: Create Depth With Layers
Layering is a great way to add depth and movement to your frame if it’s looking a bit too flat. You can create depth by stacking different sized plates and placing your main subject on top, adding in a towel or a cloth below your plate for even more added depth and texture. Alternatively, you can find objects that naturally sit closer to the camera and other objects that are shorter when laid out on your surface.
If you want to create depth and movement with objects that are similar in height, try using differing textures in the your shot beneath the main object. Adding items such as linen cloths or crinkled paper can give added intrigue as you create multiple layers.
Step 5: Get High
The key to a great flat lay is to capture the photo from an angle that is parallel to your flat surface. In order to do this, you must get directly above your subject. This may involve grabbing a step-stool or shooting your items on the ground to position your camera directly above your scene.
Now that you know how to capture flat lay photography in five easy steps, we’ll show you how to make them stand out by editing them in BeFunky’s Photo Editor!