Fantastic Flat Lay
Our photographer’s favourite creative approach
Flat lay photography has become a popular approach in recent years, particularly in fashion, food and beauty circles. The consumption of these on image sharing platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have made them a social media staple.
In this short post i’m going to tell you about why flat lay is a top favourite of mine, and give you some things to think about if you’re putting your own together. We use this thinking when designing flat lay photography for our own clients.
Aiming for balance
For me, a good flat lay feels comfortable to view: I like symmetry, balance, obvious elements that catch the eye, and enough complexity to encourage you to look around. It’s important to consider shapes, angles and patterns to get a good balance, and not lose sight of the what you want your viewer to take away from the image. Start with your product in the centre and build outwards, keeping in mind the end use of the image – as you don’t want to crate something that works naturally wide and then you lose too many important elements on the sides if it’s being used as a square on Instagram or tall in stories.
What are you communicating?
The beauty of photographing a flat lay is that is can do many jobs. Are you using the elements in frame to contribute to a single story, such as ingredients surrounding a meal or food product? Or are all the elements of equal power, such as a combination of winter fashion garments telling us what we could wear for the cold season? Don’t forget your hero, and find ways to support – don’t overload your frame with too many items that could confuse your viewer.
Typically, the brightest or the biggest object in a frame will catch our attention first. The rule of thirds also has an important impact, so be aware of these three things when designing your own.
Adding your own touch
But playing by the rules all the time isn’t the most fun, and certainly doesn’t always deliver the best results! What you’ll see in our own designs is that we like to play with random particles to help soften any overpowering shapes or patterns that might exist in the products that we need to feature. These particles might be anything from powders to liquids, often spices or scatter-friendly food like nuts or spices.
Lastly, the background. What you place your products on top of will have a huge effect on the end result. Anything with too much texture is likely to steal focus which might reduce the overall impact. My usual rule is to think about how much I need to place on top, what the sizes and colours are, and then work out how bright or detailed my background can afford to be.
Flat lay can be a really powerful tool in your visual arsenal, and dovetails brilliantly with other kinds of photography to support it. Typically, we’ll also create macro content alongside flat lays so that you get the best of both worlds from the same shoot.
I hope this has given you a little insight into our process – some of my favourite flat lay examples captured by my team and I are in the gallery below.
Thanks for reading, and get in touch if we can help you with your flat lay photography.
Steven, Creative Director