5 Tips for Perfect Flat Lay Photos

Written by Backdrop Express Photography Team on . Posted in Food & Product Photography, Photography Tips

Tips for Flat Lay Photography Flat lay product photos have become an easy and popular way to display products on social media and blogs. Not only are these photos aesthetically pleasing, they do not require expert photography skills. Most times using your smartphone and a few tips and tricks will produce amazing eye catching photos.

What is Flat Lay Photography?

Flat Lay Photography is a style of photography characterized by strategically placing objects on a flat surface and taking the photos from above versus head using a light tent like traditional product photos. Flat Lay allows the photographer to capture many products at once, while using their own sense of style to create truly unique and visually appealing photos. It’s important to capture the best photo to engage your followers and to properly show off your products so here are 5 tips to take the perfect flat lay photo.

1. Finding the “Right” Products

It’s important to find products that not only look good together, but also have something in common and to create a theme in your photos. Finding products that have similar or complementary colors can help tie all of the products together. This will prevent your photos from looking like a junkie surface or a random assortment of things. The products and/or props being used should align with your brand or overall message. In the photo below, although all of the items are different, they all follow the theme of travel. Outfid Grid on wood floor  

2. Choosing a floor

The main focus of your photos is your products, make sure you’re choosing the right floor to complement but not distract. Marble type floors are extremely popular for smaller objects like cosmetics and office supplies, marble floors add a touch of luxury and give photos a professional finished look. Wood and brick floors can be used with clothing, especially things like outfit grids or photographing shoes. Wood and brick adds a rustic, urban look to photos while still being very subtle. For a simple, no frills look, solid colors are always an option, colors that compliment the product can be chosen to ensure that all of the focus will be on the product. As always taking photos on carpet is also an option but it may be more difficult for products that require smooth flat surfaces.

3. Placement

While there’s no correct way to lay out products and props for flat lay photography, there are certain ways that are more visually appealing. It also depends on what types of products you are going to be photographing. For example, clothing can be displayed in a variety of ways. Clothing can be laid out in a symmetrical layout, or they can be “tossed” into place. No matter what types of products are being displayed, it’s important to make sure there is space left in between each product. This will help the composition look planned so that it can look like organized chaos, not a cluttered mess. See the photos below for examples:
This photo has different items with one theme, but the photo looks cluttered

This photo has different items with one theme, but the photo looks cluttered

Even though these items are not arranged in a grid or in a perfect pattern, they are all angled towards the center creating an aesthetically pleasing photo

Even though these items are not arranged in a grid or in a perfect pattern, they are all angled towards the center creating an aesthetically pleasing photo


4. Lighting

Lighting will make or break any photo so make sure you are using natural light whenever possible. Unlike shooting traditional product photos, using a tent is not necessary as those tend to be small and offer a harder type of lighting. Natural lighting is usually best early to mid morning depending on which way the light is coming from, a reflector should be used regardless because it will bounce the light back to your products and soften or eliminate shadows. When shooting with a camera, using a higher ISO (above 120) and slower shutter speed will produce well lit photos in lower lighting environments. If natural light is not available using a softbox light kit will work since it will produce a diffuse light. We do not recommend using flash since that light is extremely harsh, can create reflective surfaces and will make the images look two dimensional.

5. Angles

The entire concept of flat lay photography depends solely on the angle of the photo. Overhead shots are ideal. This view is the most common and ensures all of the products are in focus. This angle may be difficult to capture a steady photo, we recommend using a tripod to reduce camera shake and to get a consistent view on all of your photos. To add a little depth to your photos, play around with different angles by tilting your phone or camera slightly. Playing around with angles can also help your shift the viewer’s focus to a specific product and allow you to make a foreground and a background.
Flat Lay Photography

                                                         Top View

Flat Lat Photography

                                                Angled View

What tips would you give a photographer shooting their first flat lay product photos?

– Backdrop Express Photography Team

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