Posted on March 01 2017
Let me preface this by saying that I am by no means a professional product photographer. All of this is trial and error and my personal aesthetic preference. You can check out all of my flatlays at the “Style G+F” tab above, and I am here if you need advice, critic or ideas.
Planning is the most important part of the flatlay, making sure that you have all the components necessary, and that they go together. Let’s be honest, redoing a flatlay is super annoying, so let’s get it right from the start.
The anatomy of a flatlay
Some flatlays have a star, while others are more balanced with each piece getting equal attention. I am a big fan of separates, since they give you a chance to play with different textures, prints and brands. If you are using a dress, try to find a good mix of accessories that will make it more interesting and eclectic. Side note -- dresses can be surprisingly tricky. Many have full skirts that need to folded back, gathering that won’t lay just right, in other words, more fussing. Tees and bloomers are my personal favorite for beginners.
Does your flatlay have a theme? I like to pick 2-3 colors and base the whole flatlay around that color story. But it is really fun to do a holiday theme (see my Halloween and Christmas flatlays), glitter, nautical, a Disney princess or Coachella. Either way, brainstorm your theme and start building around it.
Think before you flatlay
Before you start laying it out, remind yourself…it’s going to be a square! You want equal amounts of white space on all sides. If you are using a camera, I recommend having your phone close by too. It is much easier to snap a shot, crop it into a square and double check the negative space around your objects.
This might seem like a silly mention, but inspect your items! Make sure there are no wrinkles or dirt, unless you are a photoshop pro, this is something that’s easier to fix in pre-production.
I always lay the biggest item first. In this case it’s a top. Next come the bloomers. Socks. Shoes. Bag. Bows. Bracelets. Necklace. And lastly, the greenery. You will notice that I often use fresh flowers and greenery, it has become my thing. Feel free to copy or find your own thing. In my opinion, they add balance, help tie in colors and just make sense for my brand and products.
Some basic rules
- Only use what makes sense, don’t use fillers just to include more products.
- No touching. Objects can and should overlay but not touch.
- No harsh angles or lines. This is usually seen in sleeves, then sleeve is folded in half at elbow. I prefer to roll sleeves up and bunch them up. (see my flaylay collection for examples)
- Look for harmony and balance. We don’t want one side to be loaded with accessories while the other is empty.
- Inspect each item individually. I always ask myself, how the maker of this item would like for it to be photographed. I try to pay attention to each item equally so that it doesn’t look like it’s clearly the maker of the necklaces photographing her product - if that makes sense.
Let’s play a game. Can you spot the differences in these two images?
Here is what’s wrong:
- Socks are touching bloomers
- Bracelets are touching too
- The purse strap is a straight line which feels forced and unnatural
- There is a giant fold in the bloomers (you may not have noticed, but Stephanie, the maker of these amazing shorts, would!)
- The necklace is wrong side up
- Large white mat is a must. Hobby lobby sells them, it is worth the investment! It’s in the framing section.
- Good light. I shoot all of my flatlays outside in the shade. No direct sun.
- ALWAYS SHOOT FROM OVERHEAD, right above is what you are looking for, not a 45 or 75 degree angle!
- Make sure it’s straight. See how my final flatlay is a little tilted…yep…lesson learnt!
- Believe it or not, I use the basic software that came with my computer to edit these images. I play with brightness and exposure until it is just right. Be careful to not change the color! Before posting them, I do a check in Snapseed app on my phone to make sure the white background is clean and super white. I erase any imperfections or greyness. Editing usually takes me 2-3 minutes.
Practice makes perfect, but even the best flatlays are not perfect! It’s supposed to be fun…don’t stress, my friends! Again, I am here if you want another pair of eyes for a critic or any other questions/advice.
Brands used in this flatlay
Pinafore top -- Junebug Tennessee
Bloomers -- Happy Shombey
Socks -- Little Light Feet
Shoes -- Mon Petit Shoes
Bracelets -- June + Penny
Bows -- The Petite Harper
Purse -- Raine + Skye
Necklace -- Gemma + Filo