The flat lay. They are all over Instagram and are the go-to for bloggers, but the art of photographing items from a birds eye view is often not the easiest skill to master. To help you perfect your flat lays, here are some expert tips from photographer and stylist Beck Rayner of Always & Forever Styling, who takes some seriously beautiful photos (many you can see throughout our site!).
Q. What’s the most important thing to consider?
Lighting. I like light, bright and crisp and for that I just can’t go past a good window or room with natural light streaming through. While natural light isn’t always convenient, it really does create the best result.
Q. What sort of backgrounds do you use for your flat lays?
If I’m not shooting on a plain white background, I like to go for things with depth and texture such as throws, quilted blankets, fabric, or printed wrapping paper. I’ve even used a knitted scarf from Kmart that I cut up to use. The beauty of the flat lay is that there are no rules. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll start seeing things everywhere that would be great to use in your flat lays.
Q. Composition and spacing items nicely – how do you do it!
Less is more, and the less you think it through, the better! It sounds silly, but I find that if I try and style a flat lay too much it just looks ‘staged’ (even though they are!). I find by layering products and over lapping things, it creates interest, depth and forces your followers to look at more then one of the products. Flat lay’s aren’t really about promoting one product – they are about showing a collection of products that work together and compliment each other. Sometimes your followers may not have even thought about putting that print with that garland, or those shoes with that onsie. Flat lays spark your followers and your potential buyer’s interest. And let’s be honest, they look pretty in your feed!
As for angles and spacing – I am really loving shooting flat lays from eye level as opposed to from above. But it often still does take me 30 photo’s before I capture the perfect angle, light, setup! And with spacing, I love layering things, leaving space around the image (so you can crop later) and then cropping in later, and spacing things close together.
Q. What are your 5 favourite props for flat lays?
I have so many favourite props, but there are definitely things that make a photo pop.
- Garlands: These are my go to. Natural wood, felt ball, tassel garlands, neutral colours or colourful, fun garlands like flamingos or watermelons – they just add so much to a flat lay.
- Wood products and plaques: There are so many talented biz owners out there with gorgeous products and a lot of them are up for collaborating for cross promotion in flat lays. The opportunities are there, you just need to connect with some like minded biz babes.
- Textured fabrics, blankets, quilt covers, lace: Pretty much any piece of material that gives your image depth and a point of difference.
- Confetti, scrabble letters and the like: Any craft materials that you think would be cool and different in your flat lay. Try The Reject Shop, Spotlight, dollar shops, online or even make your own. Or some gorgeous shoes!
- Gorgeous wall prints (in A6 size) or milestone cards or sayings: They are always great to add a little something different, some meaning or a message to your flat lay.
Q. Smartphone or DSLR (professional cameras)?
I don’t use my phone but the same rules apply – use good natural light and brighten and sharpen the image with an app (but don’t over filter)! It makes the image look unprofessional, grainy and tacky. Less is more. As for DSLR owners, teach yourself how to use your camera in manual mode and you won’t look back. It sounds simple but it just takes trial and error and practice. Watch You tube, google it, join some online forums or if you really don’t have the time or energy to do that, just hire me haha!
Thank you so much Beck – we are huge fans of you and your photography, and you’re amazing to work with. You can find out more about Beck by visiting Always & Forever Styling or on Instagram via @alwaysandforever_styling.