PICK OUT YOUR FLAT LAY ELEMENTS
The first step for how to shoot a flat lay is to pick out the items you’ll be shooting. You may have central products or items you want to showcase in the flat lay. You will want to then pick out other items and props that will compliment the central focus. I like to incorporate in my flat lays flowers, magazines, sunglasses, jewelry, and coffee cups to great texture and create a lifestyle feel. I always pay attention to color coordination and what elements will go well together visually, and I use both big and small elements with different textures and shapes to create visual variety.
PICK OUT YOUR BACKGROUND
Setting up a background for your flat lay is a key element. You will want a surface that will compliment your flat lay composition. My favorite types of surfaces and backgrounds for flat lays are:
– Pieces of paper or rolls of contact paper. I have a collection of papers I use for flat lays, ranging from plain white to patterns like marble.
– Fabric or sheets can also work well for flat lays to create a soft background.
– White or marble countertops, especially for beauty flat lays.
– Cafe tables also work great, especially if you’re shooting a lifestyle flat lay.
SET UP LIGHTING
Lighting is also a huge element for shooting flat lays. You want the lighting to be flattering and match the mood of what you’re shooting. I recommend either using a natural light source, such as shooting outside or from a window, or using artificial lighting, such as a soft box or ring light.
I usually shoot this flat lays with my Nikon D750 DSLR and 24-70mm lens, but can also easily shoot flat lays with a smartphone or point and shoot camera.
Start setting up your flat lay, starting with your focus item and arranging other elements around it. Pay attention to composition rules such as rule of thirds, negative space, leading lines, and symmetry. Play around with different arrangements until you’re happy with the composition. I always shoot and review on my camera every arrangement I create to decide if I like it, and then rearrange for the next shot. Also try different angles, such as classic top down vs. at a slight angle.
EDIT YOUR PHOTOS
Finally, choose your favorite images from the shoot and edit them to your liking. I edit my flay lay photos in Lightroom and usually brighten and lift shadows, as well as increase clarity and saturation for a super clean look.
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