Tips for Great Flatlay Photography

Tips for Great Flatlay Photography

If you are an enthusiastic amateur photographer like me, you will have come across a few thousand flatlay images lately. And it's no wonder because products simply look awesome in a flatlay.

What's this flatlay business you're on about you may ask! Well here's one.....

And another.               

Flatlays are a cool way of shooting products from above, whether it be travel essentials, clothing, beauty products, and especially food. Now pick up a magazine or browse Instagram and you will see what I mean.

With high-tech whizz-bang phones these days this professional looking way of capturing items is pretty easy to do but can be even better if you follow a few guidelines.

Make use of Apps
Lighten, filter, crop, contrast, clarity are some go-to features available on your phone and computer, or apps such as Instagram, Snapseed, Enlight - there are virtually hundreds of them. 

Space is your friend
Like a beautiful plate of food, don't feel like the entire frame needs to be filled. Creating some empty space is like taking a breather or a break from what is going on, plus items are much easier to focus on if there isn't an overload on the visuals.

Though the majority of flatlay backgrounds are white, you'll also come across black, wood or other natural backdrops, and marble backgrounds too.

Have one hero piece (two at the most)
What is the first thing you want people to see in the photo? Start with your hero piece and work everything else around it. 

Don't overwork it
Sometimes the best thing to do is to let items fall naturally, and then just tweak them a little. Keep your lines clean and consider symmetry (though this can be tricky unless you are a fussy Virgo like me). 

Lighting is everything
There is no need to fork out big dollars to achieve a professional look. My first lightbox was a cardboard box, some tissue paper, bulldog clips and a large piece of white card. Here's a DIY project tutorial to create your own lightbox and create images like a pro.

Pick a Theme
You're trying to create a visual story. The items in the frame much have some relation to each other so it makes sense. Also, don't be tempted to show 100% of every item in the frame - in fact it will look better if you don't. For example, a makeup shoot of lipsticks that has a suggestion of a hairbrush or lip balm in the corner gives a more natural impression of the story.  Like this....

Do you have any other helpful tips you've discovered when shooting in a flatlay style?  We’d love to hear your thoughts below.

(Pantone image by
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