How to do a flat lay photo

How To Master The Flat Lay Photo Like A #Boss

If you are hooked on Instagram like us, you’ll know the #flatlay is the cool-girl way to photograph anything and everything – your travel essentials, daily outfits, beauty products, shopping successes, night-out essentials, lazy afternoon accompaniments and so much more. If you aren’t flat laying on Instagram, then you aren’t doing it right.

Flat laying is not restricted to the blogging elite, so follow these 9 tips and you’ll be a master in no time.

1. Shoot In Square

The first rule of Instagram flat lays is to always shoot the photo in square if you are taking the shot on your phone. Flicking your phone onto square makes it easier to see what will fit in the Instagram frame and you won’t have to worry about cropping it when it comes time to upload. If you are using your SLR camera, make sure you change the image dimensions to 640×640 pixels (or as close to as possible) so the whole image is in the frame.

2. Composition Is Key

Whether you are going for a simple, clean look with lots of white space or a cluttered yet stylish flat lay a la Margaret Zhang, composition is key to a good flat lay. Keep your lines clean, consider symmetry on both sides of the frame and create space between each object. If you’re still unsure, stick to the rule of thirds and place the main components on the gridlines of an invisible 3×3 grid.

Instagram flat lay, shoes, watchImage: @nrahmichelle

3. Pick a Colour Scheme

Nothing ruins an image more than colours that don’t work in harmony with each other. When selecting items for your flat lay choose a colour scheme and stick to it for a set that works wonders.

4. You Need Good Lighting

When shooting a flat lay it is important to have good lighting, so shoot in natural light when possible. Walk around your house with one item and take a couple of test shots to help you decide where the best lighting is. Hint: the garage is usually good during the day.

instagram flat lay photo whiteImage: @nrahmichelle

 5. Use Your Editing Apps

A good flat lay highlights the products in their natural form, so you shouldn’t need to do too much editing to your pictures. Instead, use one of the many free photo-editing apps that are available to enhance the colour, add contrast, adjust the lighting and make white areas appear crisper. Find one that works well with your style and your editing will be done in a couple of taps.

 6. Pick A Theme

Flat lays are supposed to tell a visual story, so when you choose a theme stick to it, no matter how tempting it is to throw in embellishments that stray from the original theme. Whether it’s sporty, glam, brand orientated, foodie inspired or just a few of your favourite things, each element needs to make sense when combined as a whole.

Brisbane flat lay, magazineImage: @brisbanethreads

 7. The Hero Piece

A flat lay should revolve around one of two main items, or hero pieces, and the other elements and accessories are used to add value and embellishment. The hero piece can be anything – a cute new top, an inspirational quote, your favourite magazine or a new recipe you’ve trialed. The hero piece should be the main focus of your story or theme, so make sure it looks good and sits well while photographing.

flat lay photo, instagramImage: @brisbanethreads

 8. Get The Bird’s Eye View

The final step in taking the perfect flat lay image is to get above the spread that you have created and shoot from a bird’s eye view. Get up on a stool no matter how silly you think you look. It’ll take your snap from amateur Instagrammer to influencer in no time.

 9. Tag Away

Once you have published your gorgeous flat lay don’t forget to tag all of the brands and products that you have used in it. It will give your image more exposure, increase your chances of being ‘regrammed’ and it will give your feed more credibility too.

Do you have any other helpful tips and tricks that help you get the perfect flat lay shot? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!

6 Comments
  • Brooke Thomas
    Posted at 04:20h, 14 July Reply

    Love this guys!!!

  • Talecia Riley
    Posted at 23:47h, 16 February Reply

    Gonna be a flat lay pro now 😉

  • Mattie
    Posted at 05:09h, 23 February Reply

    Thank you for sharing these tips! I was wondering where the best light would be for photos in my house, but never considered the garage. Guess what I’ll be testing out tomorrow?!

  • kylie
    Posted at 20:03h, 28 July Reply

    thankyou soooo much for the tips. flat lays have always remained a mystery to me. cant wait to try them out

  • Karen
    Posted at 03:22h, 03 August Reply

    Great post love this. What is the general rule for using other brand’s products in a flat lay? Is it ok to use if you tag them as in paragraph 9? Do you have to get permission? And can you use the photo on your website post?

    • Tara Kingi
      Posted at 07:04h, 04 August Reply

      Hi Karen! Thanks for stopping by. If you are taking the photo yourself you don’t need to ask permission to use the product in a flatlay as it is original content. Often brands love you to showcase their products! If you were trying to pass it off as your own product or displayed it in a misleading way, then you might have an issue. Again, original content is fine to post on your website. – Team ExCo

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