Flat Lay has been all over Instagram and Pinterest this past year. If you are not familiar with Flat Lay, start with searching the hashtag #flatlay on Instagram to get a visual idea. You will see that Flat Lay is simply is a great way to stylize an image. What has made it so popular is that it can easily showcase a product, mood or story in a clean manner that works great on Instagram.
I am often asked to regram Flat Lay photos for my clients as they want to have that "look" on their feeds. Reposting is a great way to get content fast but original content is gold, especially if it get's regrammed by someone with a lot of followers (we call these influencers). That can get you the exposure you would like your business to have.
As an entrepreneur, you are a problem solver, a creative thinker and probably have been thinking, I can do this too! Well you are right! It doesn't take much effort to make your own Flat Lay photos. Here are a few of my tips on how to get started.
1. Decide On The Story
This is the whole point. Trying to get across a mood that tells a story about your company is what you are going for. This is about what you want your followers to know about you. Do you offer a luxury product or something rustic, are you in fashion and design or are you a consultant that travels. I find mind mapping to be really helpful here. I myself am a social media manger so I have a lot of "office" shots, I spend my day on my smart phone, lap top and in my home office so that is what my story is about. I like clean images and the designs I do for clients usually reflect that so that is what you should get from my images. I use a white background with my colour scheme and showcase office supplies like cute notebooks, writing supplies etc. I also have to be up on trends, I will make sure that is evident through my images, so I will make sure I have a lot of "trendy" items. The old saying; "a picture says a thousand words" is what Instagram for business is all about.
**Side Note: Before you take on any social media, you need to have a brand image that is designed for social media. I will talk more about this in another post but to quickly explain, you need to have a colour scheme, fonts and mood decided on before you take on a project like this.
2. Time To Get Some Props
Now that you have an idea of a story. Shop your office, your home, a friends place or my favourite place; the dollar store. I also love places like Winners, Indigo Chapters, Homesense and Ikea for affordable and super cute accessories. Perfect props. One of the most important props you can get here is a foam white board. You can get in different colours but white will turn out the best. If you have mastered this, you can then think about other backgrounds and hit up your local hardware store, get tiles, wood or anything that you think would work with your colour scheme and will give you a texture that matches your mood. A thrift store could also have some interesting finds, a worn out wooden table with the legs removed would work really well for a rustic look or some "70's-esque" curtains might be interesting if you have a mid century thing going on. This is where your creative entrepreneur should have some fun.
Sample of Office Props:
3. Find Good Lighting
Natural lighting is what you want. Lots of it. In a perfect world it would be almost directly over your photo shoot, you want to prevent shadow. I am not a photographer by the way but this is what I have noticed with taking the best shots. I set my supplies down on a white board on the floor near a large window when the sun is the brightest in that room and that works for me. You can use your smartphone here or if you have one, a DSLR camera is best if you want to enlarge any of these images.
My Flat Lay "studio" in my home office. Natural light is the best. A dollar store foam board works as a great background.
4. Pick Your Flat Lay Style
If you look on Instagram you will notice you can flat lay in a few different ways.
A grid pattern which is just very linear, I like this for clothing retailers. If you mentally looked at your white board broken up into a grid pattern, you would place sunglasses for example in one "grid square ", maybe a scarf in another, jeans in one and a watch in the last one.
Leaving white space is helpful if you will be writing on these images in any way, if you use them for a blog this can be especially useful.
This is a more haphazard technique. As if you were looking at a lived in space, like the top of my office desk for example or a bedroom floor with clothes scattered, a bathroom counter or a kitchen table.
This part is really important. Because you are not a professional photographer, your lighting probably wasn't perfect. You will have shadows and the colours could be brighter. Don't get discouraged here. There are a lot of photo editing apps out there, my favourite is VSCO. It is a mobile app so once I take my photos I move them from my Google Photos to VSCO and edit them there and I can share straight to Instagram from that point or save them for other projects. When editing I always find these 4 edits make the biggest difference but you should play around a bit until you find a formula that works for you.
Exposure, increase the exposure to get rid of those shadows, on VSCO I go up to a +4 almost every time.
Contrast. This will make those colours pop. I go up to a +3 on VSCO.
Sharpen. I love sharpening, I find it works really well for anything with shine, like gold paper clips. I max it out almost every time.
Saturation. I am usually pretty light with this but I find that it help the colours pop even more. With white backgrounds I find this super helpful. I go +1 on VSCO.
Well that is it, I hope that doesn't sound too complicated.
Try it out and let me know what you think! If you think this is beyond you but you like the look of flat lay. Consider hiring a social media manager (like me!) to help you create the image and brand you want on your social media pages.