If you follow me on any of my social medias, particularly Instagram, you will know I’m a lover of flat-lays. There’s something deeply satisfying when you take a flat-lay and everything just works. They’re one of my favourite kind of pictures to plan and take. However, they’re not as simple as chucking a few products on a surface and taking a couple of pictures. A lot of thought and careful placement goes in to them, and sometimes I can take hundreds of photos to get the perfect one.
I’m often asked how I take my Instagram photos, and I’m sure I’ve done one of these posts before. Saying that, I have come a long way in my flat-lay skills in the last year or less. If you look at my Instagram flat-lays from November and December last year, you’ll notice such a huge difference in my quality, editing and positioning of my photos. I decided to share my ‘top tips’ or ‘lessons learnt’ from my own experiences with you so that you can also put these to the test. I’m also really lucky to be working with Panasonic on this post to showcase the new the new 4K Compact System Camera Panasonic.
Lighting is the first thing to think about when taking any kind of photo. I often used artificial lighting this time last year due to it being dark in the mornings, and dark when I got home from work. However, one thing I’ve learnt in the last year is that natural lighting works so much better. The colours in your photo are more true to life and everything is a lot more crisp. I find that lighting helps massively when it comes to editing too. Consistent lighting is so important in building a flow between your images and them tying in with each other. Natural light beats artificial lighting when trying to get the best results.
To ensure you’re getting the best shots of products, or anything you’re taking a picture of, take multiple images from multiple different angles. You’ll find that different angles and rotations work with different objects, you just got to find what works best. I often find that my angles can also depend on my lighting and how it reflects from an object. Last year, I all too often took one or two images from maybe two angles maximum and would post a photo without much thought about whether it was the best it could be. Whereas now, I couldn’t face posting an image that I am not completely head over heels for.
If you don’t have an expensive camera to take your photos then don’t worry. I still use my phone for almost all of my images. It’s just less hassle when wanting to post them on different social medias on the go. I currently own the iPhone 6s so I’m now 2/3 generations behind in camera, but I still find that my phone camera quality can be surprisingly good with the right lighting. Again with the lighting. I make the most of what my phone has to offer with ensuring the focus is where I want it, and can turn up the exposure before even taking the photo if I feel like it’s needed. A camera is also really good when wanting to get even better quality and wanting to make the smaller details pop while keeping the quality.
When taking my images, I need to make sure they’re all going to tie in with each other. Ensuring the colours fit together in my images is something I need to think about. I like mixing metals and colours a lot, but sometimes I place certain products together and they are too mismatch. I’ve got a few palettes where the packaging is quite ‘busy’, so placing other products with busy packaging isn’t going to look the best. Keeping things a bit more simple makes flat-lays seem a bit more tidy. If you like your flat-lays with a bit more going on, I’d recommend accessorising with accessories. Coloured paper and faux flowers are a couple that work really nicely in bringing a bit extra to flat-lays and adds a bit more texture to the photo.
This may sound excessive, but I use 3 apps when editing my Instagram flat-lays. The three I use are VSCO, Facetune and Afterlight. Admittedly, most of my editing gets done on VSCO. I copy and paste the same effects and editing on to each photo and adjust slightly to ensure all my photos match up and look right next to each other. This is also something Zoella recently said she done when editing her photos too – great minds and all that. Facetune is simply to whiten a background or add some detailing to something, but it’s amazing for selfie editing! Afterlight is what I use to add the border to my photos for Instagram. I’ve been liking the bigger gap between my pictures lately and this is the easiest way to add them, or so I know of anyway.
There’s my top five tips and lessons learnt when taking Instagram flat-lays. I’m not claiming to have the best flat-lays out there, there’s always room for improvement. These are just things that I’ve started to consider and think about in the last year when taking them. I’ve certainly improved by taking all of these into consideration and thinking about what I’m doing, if I do say so myself. If you try any of these tips out, please let me know how it worked for you as I’d love to know any feedback.
Do remember, this is my opinion. I am in no way saying that if you’re not doing these then you’re doing it wrong. They’re just things that I’ve found to have helped.