Flat lay photography is one of the best-looking and visually appealing types of product photography. Simply put, it is an image shot from above, a bird’s eye view of a selection of aesthetically arranged objects.
Food photography and fashion are two areas that have benefited the most from the flay lay style, with more brands creating their approach to flat-lay shots.
Good flat lay photography tells a story through carefully placed objects, colors, and organization. Now let’s look at some flat lay product image tips that will help you get a perfect shot.
Theoretically, flat lay photography requires a camera pointed straight down at a 90-degree angle. If you use a different angle, it won’t be considered a flat lay image.
A good tip is checking your photo and looking for any object edges. If you can see the sides of the placed objects, your camera isn’t at a 90-degree angle.
Make sure to adjust your camera lens to point straight down - move the tripod higher and adjust the angles until the sides of your objects are no longer visible.
When trying to take the perfect flat lay image, it’s best to use a tripod with a horizontal mount if possible. This will make it much easier to take photos without having to hold the camera.
Also, the tripod will help gain some more accessible and safer height than a ladder or a chair. Some tripods also have a tilting center that will let you place the camera at a perfect angle, as discussed in the previous paragraph.
The background is a crucial element of the composition in flat lay imagery. In other words, it is the canvas for your artwork, so be sure to give it some thought and pick one that will help you tell your story.
While a white background is practical and extensively used, don’t be afraid to play with different colors and textures. Look around you, and you might find various surfaces that would make a great background, like wood, a nice table cloth, paper, etc.
If your background is too flat, you can add depth and movement by layering. For example, you can stack different plates and objects and place your product on top. Play with geometric shapes and different depths and textures.
A different way to add dept is to find objects that are taller, so closer to the camera, and things that are shorter.
Whether you are using natural or artificial light, remember that it sets the ambiance and mood of your image. If you want to create an impact with punchy color and full sharpness, go ahead and take your flat lay image into direct sunlight. You will obtain short shadows and bright colors if you take photos around noon.
Natural light is excellent for minimizing shadows, depending on the time of day. For example, a north-facing window will let you obtain a softer light, while the light coming from a south-facing window will produce more shadows.
Use diffusers of grey boards to bounce the light around your setup, and don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works best for your product photography.
Styling your flat lay image is about the message you want to communicate. Keep it neatly organized and symmetrical or make an intentional mess - you have complete control over what you want to have in your image.
One method widely used in flat-lay product photography is knolling, which refers to organizing all items into meticulously arranged patterns.
With knolling, symmetry is crucial, but you should feel free to experiment and find a style that will best fit your brand.
While perfect symmetry may satisfy the eyes, messy flat lays can be just as enjoyable. If you are going for a chaotic approach, keep in mind that nothing can be random - even messy product photography shots have a lot of thinking behind them. Every object has a clear role in building a certain narrative of the flat lay image.
Now that you are done with your photo session, it is time to do the final touches. Start by adjusting the exposure as necessary.
Then, play with brightness, contrast, highlights, and shadows until you achieve the perfect balance in your shot.
If you are looking for a more dramatic result, increase the shadows, and if you want something brighter, increase the brightness and highlights.
When the exposure is perfect, crop and straighten the image to create the ideal symmetry, you are going for, and select an aspect ratio adapted for your medium of choice.
Use a healing brush to remove the background or any unwanted stains or specks of dust in your background.
As flat lay photography is becoming increasingly popular, many believe it’s easy to do. But in fact, it is a bit more complicated than that. We hope you found these tips helpful and will use them to create fantastic flat lay images.