Flat lay has taken the world of photography by storm. When the word “photography” is mentioned, what comes to mind? We bet it’s not a flat lay image. However, with the perfect planning, you can capture a flat lay that can be just as eye-catching and visually appealing. Below are some basic steps for taking flat lay photos like a boss.
Simply put, flat lay is a photograph taken from right above. An establishing characteristic is its bird’s eye point of view, allowing you to capture all the elements in one picture. Another characteristic is the charming minimalist style each flat lay image exudes. But why do some flat lays look like they are cut from a Vanity Fair magazine, while others feel like randomly scattered items on a floor? The secret is in the message. Before setting up, you have to think thoroughly of the purpose of this photoshoot. Is it to tell a story, to convey an emotion, to visualize a message, or to set up the tone and expectation for more content?
With those tips in mind, you can start planning for the layout of your photo. While this versatile style allows for virtually limitless possibilities, it is generally a good idea to pick the colour theme of the composition according to the tone of your subject. By doing so, your photo will attain a unified theme that speaks clearly to your viewers.
Next up, you will need to decide what to include in the picture. While the nature of a flat lay allows multiple items in frame, it is best to include no more than five prominent objects (mood-setting elements like confetti, petals and sprinkles, need not apply), or the audience will be distracted from the intended message. Be mindful of the relationship between the items, and how they come together to communicate the story.
For example, you want to show your passion for pastry making. The pie crust, macarons, cupcake, and sugar cubes are all excellent tidbits of the craft that communicate a mood to your viewers, while their complementary colours make the image all the more pleasing to look at.
Grab all the items on your list and start putting them together for the photo showdown. The arrangement of items is a line of work in itself. Professionals like food artists and graphic designers’ practice for years to learn the optimal way of putting things in place, but you will see significant improvement in your composition as long as you put the effort and patience in. For a fun approach, place the items at different angles and try to create overlapping items and crossing lines. Want to make the flat lay feel more professional? Line them up upright side by side.
The difference between flat lay photography and other genres is that the former is extremely content reliant. So, don’t be afraid to get creative with your themes and objects. Ultimately, like many other genres, it’s about trial and error, so the best way to practice is to just keep experimenting. Give it a go!