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How to create perfect Flat Lay photos for commercial Instagram accounts?

Shooting at right angles to the subject or Flat Lay is one of the best options for demonstrating culinary dishes of restaurants, bags, watches, and other accessories, cosmetics for shops. The footage is atmospheric, attractive, and at the same time, it does not require working with live models and is relatively inexpensive for the client.


Technical equipment of the photo lab

An ordinary smartphone with a good camera or a professional camera is suitable for shooting, but special attention should be paid to lighting.

Flat Lay photo is characterized by soft diffused light and the absence of hard contour shadows. To achieve this effect, you can use natural light with a simple reflector. It is easy to make it from a sheet of white whatman paper, installed on a tripod or an arbitrary stand, or use special reflectors for professional shooting. When the lighting is poor, additional lighting and flash are important. There are many flash models for smartphones on the market that make mobile photography as simple as possible.


A contrasting background should be suitable in texture, hue, and "spirit" to the style of photography. Choose materials that complement the image: raw or painted wood, metal, glossy plexiglass, rough textiles, or velvet - depending on the background, the same objects and images will be endowed with new meanings.

If you plan to produce photo content regularly, it is worth preparing several dozen backgrounds on which small and large objects, bright and monochrome, will look good. When shooting small items - electronics, jewelry, cosmetics, a background of one square meter will be enough, but if your plans include shooting lookbooks, then the background should be at least two square meters.


The layout of things for a photo

A stunning image differs from an ugly one by subjective perception, which, in turn, is affected by the individual's subconscious assessment of harmony, form, and perspective of the contemplated image.

In order for the photo to be harmonious, the most important details of the image must be located on the axes or intersection of lines dividing the square into nine equal parts.

In the screenshot, they are indicated by pink dots:


The shape and compatibility of objects on the photo can affect perception. This is a widespread technique among photographers. The eye picks up contrasts of colors and textures, drawing attention to them. To use this technique, we recommend that you get a lot of supplies and props.

Stereotypic thinking helps to complete the picture based on incomplete data. The image of the Polaroid, swimsuit, and tropical greenery evokes thoughts about the beach and palm-flipped Vietnamese echoes the effect. "Mentally" it gets hot, and this is exactly what you need to advertise water:


Or another example, where soft textiles of bedspreads and home clothes, a hot drink and a favorite book give rise to associations with home rest, weekends and relaxation:


With a Flat Lay photo, you can create a sense of perspective with only limited tools: using spirals (shells, curls of ribbons, images of stairs), photos in photos (this can be a print on a T-shirt laid out on a table or a printed image), layering or diverging to the sides from the center of the parts.

An example when a perspective is created due to a " hub-and-spoke " layout of things from the center to the periphery:


Color palette

All images can be divided into monochrome and contrast.

Monochrome pictures are those where all objects belong to the same color, but differ only in the saturation of the shades. Instablogers are very fond of this effect, as it allows them to combine diverse objects into a single style. The only nuance that should be taken into account for this type of photo is the setting of good soft light and the use of high-quality optics; otherwise, the objects will merge with the background or will be ugly outlined by contour shadows.


Contrast images are mainly placed on a light or dark background compared to the subject. They are less demanding on the quality of optics and focusing, but they require ingenuity when layout, as it is more challenging to combine colorful things.

Photo processing

It is best to use Lightroom and Photoshop, which allows you to perform batch processing of images and facilitate light and color correction. Using the same filters will help not only save time but also bring the whole picture to a single style.

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AuthorLucas Martley
Date22.12.2019
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