Hello lovely students!
Today I am going to talk to you about styling a flat lay. These work really well on Instagram, so they are worth practising.
There are a few things to think about when creating one of these images.
Background: White backgrounds work really well but I've also created them on pretty wrapping paper and wood. It's great to test a few things placed on your background before you spend ages setting it all out and then take a photograph and realise the background just doesn't work! I always place my gathered things down and take a photograph before beginning anything. This is also a good way to test the light. You might need to move before you begin - see below!
Colours/Theme/Story: What is the point of your image? It might simply be 'pretty pastel things arranged nicely' or 'things that make me smile.' But it also might be to sell a product. Begin with your product or main thing and build it up from them. Where do you want to place your main subject? In the middle? To one side? It's important to make it really clear to people what the main thing in the image is, so that their eyes are focused there. So, if you are selling cards, for example, don't go so overboard on all the props and extras that people aren't sure what it is you are selling or indeed what they might be buying.
When you create these images you need to think about colours. You don't need to stick to just one colour but unless you specifically creating a rainbow then I would stick to 2 or 3 colours. And remember to think about your colours carefully. If you are clashing colours it needs to be with intent. Usually you want complimentary colours, so it makes people feel happy to look at it and not challenged in any way. If you need help or inspiration with your colours take a look at a colour wheel. This is helpful for all styling not just flat lays.
Light: Be careful where you set up your shot and where you stand. You don't want to create a beautiful set up and then discover the lighting is really bad or you've got shadows all over the place. Test it out when you test your background choice and then move if it's not right. Setting it up in front of the window works well, as you are shooting down and not into the window. And also test what happens when you hold your camera over the image to take a photograph. Are you causing a big shadow? Taking these images with a camera phone can often be easy than with a big camera, as you can hold it over and lean back in a way that you can't do with a dSLR.
Size: What dimensions are you shooting in? If you are shooting this image as a square crop for Instagram make sure that it you are styling it in a square. As you start to build up your image keep having a look through your viewfinder or on your camera phone to see if you are keeping in the space or if you are leaving any gaps. Gaps are often not obvious until you take a photograph.
What to add: This is a tricky one to teach because you could add anything and put together anything and make it look good! But some ideas are, pretty boxes, flowers, dried flowers, leaves, shells, stationery, postcards, ribbons and fabric. Think about textures and also think about adding life, with a hand, a cup of tea or elements from nature.
For endless inspiration take a look at this Instagram stream!
I would love to see you have a go at a flat lay and share the images on Facebook or Instagram.
Enjoy and have fun! xo