5 Tips for Composing the Perfect Flatlay.

Who doesn’t love a good, well composed flatlay? There is something so satisfying about beautifully laid out products, and one of my favourite parts of the blogging process is coming up with new ideas and creating flatlays. There is something so editorial about the flatlay, and I have to admit I often judge a blogger/instagram account on their ability to pull off an excellent flatlay. I have received quite a few comments of praise for my flatlays both here and on my instagram account, so I thought I would share a few of my tips for creating great images; I also often share behind the scenes peeks of my process on snapchat, so be sure to follow me: labellablog.

1. Start with a neutral background.

If you’re new to blogging, flatlays and photography in general, my best advice for you is to start creating your layouts on a white background; there are lots of ways that you can achieve this, a white sheet, a white blanket or throw, or a table with a smooth white surface. Many beginner bloggers tend to use sheets of white paper, I would stay away from this option, because unless your lighting is perfect, you will end up with visible lines in your image where you layered the paper to create a larger space (and please, please, please don’t use wrapping paper, it doesn’t look good!). For my white background I use this coffee table from Ikea, which I covered the top of using marbled contact sheet from Amazon; a marble background is very clean and professional looking especially if you’re shooting food.

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2. Lighting can make or break an image.

It doesn’t matter how expensive your camera is or how beautiful your layout is, if your lighting is bad your photo will be just as bad. There is no need to go investing in expensive studio lights for flatlays, natural lighting is the best; set up your background and composition near a window so that your image is flooded with natural lighting, the closer you can shoot to the window, the better as you’ll get much soften shadows. Pay attention to the time of day you shoot too, morning to early evening is best, but once dusk sets in the lighting will create harsh shadows and you’ll have to work much harder to get your white balance just right.

3. Less is sometimes more.

When laying out your products for your flatlay, make sure your image is balanced; depending on what you’re trying to capture, it can sometimes be better to keep your composition simple rather than over crowding it with products and props. If you’re creating content around one particular product or item, make sure that it stands out from everything else in the photo, put it to the center of the image where possible and make sure that you place other products/props in a way that will draw the eye towards your focus object.

4. Don’t underestimate the power of the prop.

Adding props give flatlays character, they can communicate a theme or create a story, they can take a image that is designed to be flat and give it a new dimension. Flowers and petals are great for adding a subtle hint of colour, or an extra feature to an otherwise empty image. Other props that I love using are glasses, magazines, candles, confetti and fairy lights.

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5. All you need is the basics for editing.

Sometimes there is the urge to go all out with effects and filters when editing images, especially for instagram, however I recommend you stick to the basics. The only editing tools you really need when starting out are brightness, warmth, contrast, saturation, highlights and shadows; for white images the warmth tool is an easy way to get your white balance right, that is to get your white truly white, for warmer images take it down and for cooler images take if up until the whites appear pure. Be careful not to over do it with the brightness and highlights or you will lose all colour and definition from your image and it will look poor quality. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on editing software either; PicMonkey is a great online editor and for your phone, most of what you need is already in the instagram app, but PicsArt and Aviary are also great options.

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