Some of the chicest social media accounts you'll see have something in common. Those overhead shots that give you a birds-eye view of a casually put together arrangement. They’re called flat lays, and they’ll make your Instagram feed look fabulous. The good news? You don’t need a fancy camera to get started. Your smartphone works perfectly, although grab your DSLR camera and arm boom tripod if you’re feeling inspired. This is your time to shine, bringing your favorite objects together in a form of “organized chaos”. Within this little square, tell a story and invite others into your world!
I partnered with KSL Studio 5’s Brooke Walker to talk all about perfecting a flat lay. I walked her through the ins and outs of color, composition, and how to nail an Instagram-worthy shot. Check out the video to see Brooke’s final flat lay and how she achieved that chic look.
Here are a few tips to getting that perfect flat lay:
1. Light It Right
Lighting is everything, and natural light is the bomb. Take your shots next to a window or open door. If the light is too intense, diffuse it with see-through fabric, a transparent shower curtain, or even parchment paper.
2. Surface Matters
Use a perfect square surface for your flat lay. A hard surface is easiest to throw your items on (even posterboard works). Start with a 2 X 2 square and go larger if you need to. We love a square with texture, like grainy wood or uneven paint strokes.
3. Coordinate Color
Organize by color, choosing colors that harmonize together. Color can set a mood, and that can set the tone for your story. Grab a color wheel －are you going for colors in the same family, or complimentary colors?
4. Organize Your Image
Organize by story. Flatlays are all about composition and bringing objects together with symmetry and pattern to the eye. Or, go against the grain and break the rules. If assymetric feels better to you, go with it. Layer objects, look for angles, and fill your frame. Objects may look different through the viewfinder than with the naked eye, so take some shots and have a look. Tweak, then tweak again, until your image looks beautiful once framed by your camera. Even out negative space, create a frame, whatever looks best for your personal style!
FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY GEEK-OUT MOMENT
These images were shot with a Canon 5D Mk III paired with a SigmaArt 35mm f/1.4 lens. I love that lens. A lifestyle photog friend mentioned it was her go-to lens for family and portrait shoots, so I figured I'd give it a try. It's gorgeous. As with all the SigmaArt lenses, it's just a dream to have in your arsenal.
See my camera setup and discover even more tricks with my 90-Minute Food Photography Crash Course.
The yellow backdrop is a $12 piece of precut whiteboard (from Home Depot), painted with 5 different yellow & gold tones (acrylic paint from Michaels crafts) then sprayed with a semigloss polyurethane for easy washability.
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