Whether your flat lay is for your Instagram, Facebook, or strictly for your blog, these tips for creating flat lay images will not fail you!
As the Creative Director of The Hare & Style, a lifestyle blog where we focus on luxury items, I learned early on that if the image doesn't sell your vibe, then your writing will hardly get your followers to shop your product recommendations. And trust me, that is the last thing you want as a fashion blogger! Use this step-by-step guide to create a perfect flat lay for your brand.
Step 1: Answer the question, “Who are you?”
There are a few basics to creating the perfect flat lay, but the first is to know your style! I cannot emphasize this enough because when you create your images and upload them, if they aren’t following a theme or overall direction, then your blog and social media will just look messy. If you prefer a busy flat lay, stick to it! Or, if your style lends to the more minimalist tone, stick to that vibe when you post.
Step 2: Use The Rule of 3
When setting up for your flat lay, you want to have three larger pieces that are the main event, followed up with a few smaller items within the same color scheme and mood you are trying to create. This rule works for both busy and minimal flat lays. I usually like to mix in something organic with my product shoots, whether it’s a piece of fruit, some flowers, or you know, my pet rabbit, who has his own following on Instagram (@theoriginalhousebunny). Bring your personality to the table!
Step 3: Be Aware of Your Backgrounds
Always remember that in order for your items to pop, you’ll want a clean background that doesn’t distract from what you want your readers to look at. White backgrounds, marble tables or slabs (a quick trick for this is using a marble adhesive), or even industrial tables work great! If you check out Instagram, you can soak up a ton of inspiration for your flat lays. You can look to the blogs you're already into for some great ideas.
For me, white backgrounds are my go-to. In the flat lays below I’ll show you how to do both a busy flat lay as well as a minimal flat lay. If you need more inspo, some of my favorite Instagrams to follow are @oraclefox, @margaret_zhang, @savinachaiyj, and obviously @flatlays! There are also way more subcategories when it comes to flat lays, but we are going to keep it simple for now.
Step 4: Keep Balance in the Shot
When positioning your items, you want to ensure that you maintain a balance between the products. Have a bigger item on one side of the table? Put the flowers on the other side. If you follow the rule of three, positioning your products takes a little trial and error, but here's a tip: Keep your items as close to a triangle when staged in a “scattered” pattern, or as a cube when arranged in the “neat” pattern.
If you’re trying to pull off a busy theme, then add in some accessories like small gold pieces, cosmetics, or even tiny rocks or berries (your personality leads the way). What if a more minimal approach is your style? Opt for one or two delicate pieces that compliment the flat lay like a simple watch paired with clothes, or a pen or Polaroid for desk posts. The more you put together flat lays, the better you will get at judging what works. And remember that you can always check Instagram accounts you love and try and bring that vibe to yours.
Step 5: Editing
There is obviously a lot more I can tell you about putting together a flat lay, but we want to keep this sweet and simple. The last step I'll leave you with is a bit of advice for editing your images. I take a lot of my photos in my bay window or outside to get the best lighting possible. Lighting is key! This will go a long way in saving you time and headache when you go to edit your images. Make sure to always touch up your images, even if it’s a simple tweak here and there.
Some of my favorite editing apps come into play after I’ve uploaded the photos from my camera to iPhoto. I have Adobe Lightroom, but I barely use it. I’m comfortable just doing a little brightening right in iPhoto by using the “adjust” feature. After that, I'll send the images off to my business Dropbox.
Once the images are in my Dropbox, I’m free to touch up the images on my iPhone. My go-to apps are Facetune (for whitening my background and lifting the detail in my products) and Snapseed (to whiten my background even more until it’s as good as it’s gonna get). The very last thing I do is a final touch up with the “edit features” on Instagram. I use these to focus on increasing brightness, highlights, a slight adjustment to contrast and sharpness, and a drop in shadows. Just know that by the time you’ve reached this step in Instagram, the tweaks are so minimal because your other apps will have done most of the job already. I know, it seems like a lot of tiny details, but I swear that they make all the difference when you press post!
Remember, at the end of the day you want your style and personality to show through with anything you post with your flat lays. Keep true to your brand! What other tricks and tips do you use for creating a perfect flat lay? Comment below to add some more to this guide!
Editor's Note: This article was originally posted Aug 24th, 2016 by The Hare and Style.