You may not know what a flat lay is right off the bat, but we can guarantee you’ve seen one. Pull up Instagram and, chances are, you’ll see at least one floating around in your newsfeed.
So, what is it that makes a picture a flat lay, you ask? A flat lay is a photo of objects arranged to lay ‘flat’ on a background and then photographed directly from above. Sounds a little confusing, but if you check out this Pinterest board expertly curated by our own director of operations, you’ll get the picture (literally).
Flat lays can contain an assortment of items ranging from clothes, jewelry, office supplies, food, and whatever else you want to throw on the table. Usually, flat lays stick to an overarching theme whether it’s complementary color schemes or objects in general, but the one thing most flat lays adhere to? Sweet, sweet simplicity.
Before you can master the flat lay, check out these five things:
Pick Your Poison
Select your items. Have a few key objects you want to highlight and add in ‘filler’ objects. For filler objects, explore the nooks and crannies of your house for items that would pair well with your photo’s focal points. Notebooks, sunglasses, jewelry, and flowers are all magical little morsels that can complete your vision. But remember: don’t overdo it. Too many objects can make your photo look chaotic and you’ll lose focus on the items you want to spotlight.
Nowadays, being ‘basic’ isn’t considered a good thing, but with flat lays, it definitely is. Choose a simple background. Basic backgrounds create versatility and allow the objects to speak for themselves. Plain white backgrounds allow colorful items to pop and keep the overall image clean. Wooden floors can give your photo a rustic, urban feel, while neutral-toned fur rugs can add texture and subtle background detail.
For pesky items that have a tendency to roll around, add silly putty to hold objects in place.
Natural is best, right? Snap your photo during the day to keep your lighting soft and au natural. Be conscious of shadows and position yourself to avoid skulking silhouettes in the background.
Make It Stick
Brace yourselves. We’re unleashing a life-changing secret! For those pesky items that have a tendency to roll around (we’re looking at you, lipstick), keep items in check by adding a small bit of silly putty to hold objects in place.
The flat lay is recognized by its bird’s eye camera angle. Too short? Use a step stool to get a good overhead shot of your objects. If you’re uploading to Instagram, visualize how to capture an image that will fit a square. If you have an iPhone, you can select the ‘square’ function. However, if you want to keep your entire image without cropping it, download the free Whitagram app onto your phone. Play around with your objects! Your leopard print sunglasses might look better in the left corner instead of the right corner. Take photos of various arrangements in order to get the best possible photo.
Flat lays may not look like much, but the best ones all involve careful consideration. Even though there are important aspects to consider, there isn’t one absolute way to take a flat lay. Arrange your items, rearrange, then rearrange once more until you’re happy. Good luck and be sure to flaunt those flat lays on Instagram!