FLATLAYS101: Elements of a Good Flat-lay
Like many other people, I started from somewhere when it comes to flatlays. Over time, with lots of practice days, I can see a steady improvement. I mean, let’s look at a few photos, shall we?
These above photos show my progression from my very first 2 flat-lays, to the most recent ones at the time this post was written. Safe to say, I’ve come quite a bit from those very first grainy photos. I remember I was so nervous when taking my first flat-lay, having an idea of what I wanted in my head. I was annoyed when things didn’t come out like I’d imagined.
Anyway, seeing that I have improved quite a bit, there are elements which are very necessary (in my opinion) for your flat-lay to come out bomb!
I think everybody can agree that there’s no lighting like natural lighting. I mean, I am yet to experiment with studio lighting, but I can attest that natural light is the absolute bomb. Natural lighting takes things to the next level, but of course there are other elements that have to work along with it!
You can’t just imagine that your photo will come out well because you have natural lighting, but it’s a very important part. You have to take the photos early during the day i.e. 8am – 11am. Majority of my best photos have been taken early in the morning. Also, if you’re in a room like me, turn off any artificial light in the room, and just let the room be filled with that natural goodness.
My challenge with natural light is that depending on the time, my pink cardboard can come out very light pink, very dark pink, or even purple sometimes. It’s really annoying! That’s one challenge with using coloured cardboard, you need to know how to get that same consistent colour.
Of course, you can’t take a photo of nothing. A lot also matters when it comes to what the flat-lay is made of. The way you arrange things or focus on the details e.g. making sure everything is the same colour or has colours which click, can really bring the beauty out of your flat lay. I just sit down sometimes and play around, not having particular ideas in mind apart from ‘tropical’ or ‘floral’. Sometimes I get awesome shots, sometimes not.
The most important thing is to keep experimenting, keep playing with arrangements to see what looks good and what doesn’t! It’s a constant learning process.
A lot of guides for flat lays will tell you to take the photos horizontally and facing down. Of course, this is the ultimate positioning for a flat lay, but you can dare to be different. Different angles have a way of really bringing out things! I have experimented with angles a lot, from bird’s eye view, to ground level.
You can also take photos from a distance, or get up close and personal in order to capture some of the vital details. This angle, coupled with that good ol’ natural lighting, can really produce stunning photography.
Of course, how could I talk about photos without actually mentioning what you use to take the photo? I am currently using the iPhone 5 camera, and I have no complaints whatsoever.
Any phone with a camera from 8MP above can be used to capture awesome photos, especially when natural light comes in. I’m sure 5MP is alright, but you have to know what you’re doing and really get experimenting.
Determination & Creativity
Frankly, flat-lays start in the mind and are vomitted into reality when we take action. Therefore, you should have an idea of what you want your flat-lay to look like already. You also need to be determined to continuously improve, no matter how limited your resources are. Tell yourself you’re not going to slack in quality, and that you’ll put in your best efforts! With a good mindset, you can really improve a lot. In order to refresh and add to your creativity, utilise places like Instagram, Pinterest and We Heart It for inspiration!
Don’t be discouraged because your flat-lay doesn’t look like those on Pinterest. Those people all started somewhere, and also yours doesn’t have to look exactly like theirs. I’m fine taking photos of my makeup even if it’s not MAC, Nars, Urban Decay or whatnot. As I grow, so will my flat-lays!
So yes, those are some of the key elements which always come into play in my flatlays. Also, flatlays are really fun! Here’s a look at what happens behind the scenes of my flatlays:
I am glad for all the people who love my photos and hype me up, and I can honestly say I’m only going to get better..hopefully! You can check me out on Instagram (@mindofamaka) to get more flat-lay inspiration! I’m also on Pinterest, and We Heart It, in case you need more inspo!
Did I miss any elements? Let me know below!