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Hand holding phone to photograph flatlay

Hey there, spouse-ly community! Sharing a flatlay is such a good way to give your main content on social media some breathing room. They can also help you tell a story, talk about a product, and more. In this post I have some nifty tricks to create a flatlay that makes you say, YAY (sorry, had to). ??

Decide on a purpose and subject

What is this flatlay for? A banner for your website? To communicate a behind the scenes story? What will the main subject of the flatlay? Your computer? Your life-giving coffee? A product? It will be much easier to set the flat-lay up when you know what the purpose and subject is. With that in mind, you can start composing your flatlay to help draw your viewers eye to the subject or at the very least know what orientation and size it needs to be! You should also consider whether text will need to accompany this image.

Always make sure the main subject is in focus by tapping it on your phone screen, manually focusing on your big-girl camera, or selecting the closest autofocus point in AF mode.

Make your own backgrounds

Is your home not equipped with perfect white tile or marble countertops and barnwood flooring? Don’t worry! You can make your own.

Think about what colors work with the visual identity of your brand and search for contact paper or other material that compliments it! Put the contact paper or even just colored paper on a cheap foam board from the craft store and voila! You have your very own fake flatlay flooring/table/surface! You can even use spray fabric glue and stretch a piece of fabric like linen across the board if you are looking for something with more texture.

In the picture above I am actually using a 12″x12″ marble tile from Lowes that cost me less than $3. You can always find a texture/tile you like and take it home for a background!

Look for light

I feel like I say this in every photography related blog post but it’s so important, so, oh well! Look for the light! You can’t make a pretty picture without light. Literally, you will make a plain black image with no light. Anyways, find a spot in your house with as much natural light as possible. Look at the way the shadows fall on your flatlay objects and try to put taller objects that may cast shadows furthest from the light. If the light is coming in really hard and you want softer shadows, throw a white sheet or curtains over the window to diffuse it.

Use reflectors

Now if you grab two or more foam boards so you have multiple backgrounds then the boards you are not using can be used as reflectors! If you follow me on IG, you know I love reflectors. Use them to bounce light into your flatlay scene. Just set the white foam board across from your light source and it will bounce light back into your scene and lighten it up as well as soften shadows. You’ll be amazed at the difference!

Layer and crop

This is probably one of the best tips I have! I have found that my flatlay looks very staged and stale when I lay objects out in a single layer across my surface.

Use various textures and objects to layer and build your scene up. Even if you can just layer a few pics, do it! Make things touch and overlap. Allow some of your extra items to fall off the frame and be cropped a bit when composing!

You want to draw attention to the subject of your image. Think about the way your eye travels across the scene and whether it is drawn to your subject. If you create a large enough “scene” you can also take photos from multiple vantage points and get extra shots out of one flatlay!

More Yay for your Flatlay

If you are using a phone camera for your flatlay, check out this resource on my overall 10 best phone photo tips! If you don’t have time to make your own flatlays, google “flatlay stock images” and find yourself a stock photo service! There are free ones out there. Most just ask that you attribute the artist in exchange for your usage.

For more $free.99 photography tips, check out my other blog posts on my website, or sign up for my email list here!

About the Author:

Megan Leigh Acosta is a formally trained art educator, photographer, and instructional designer. With a career teaching art and photography in both public school and community venues under her belt, she completed a Master's of Education in Instructional Design and Technology so she could move into serving an online community of learners. Her mission is to provide families with photography services and art education practices that help them slow down, create, and connect. The heart of her work is currently teaching engaging, interactive online courses.

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