Bloggers are doing it. Brands are doing it. Your best mate is doing it. So why are people laying out their items in an organised and stylish manner and photographing it? It’s called “Flatlay”, and it’s the latest (and most trendy) way to display your loot in a cool and fashionable way. I recently attended a workshop dedicated to all things photography and social media based, focusing on the perfect way to flatlay. Perth flaylay queen Claire Mueller and creative brain, blogger and stylist Emma Bergmeier-Varian provided a bunch of budding “flatlayers” with their top tips for the art, and it’d be rude if I didn’t share! Behold the art of flatlay!
1. Build a story
What do you want to convey to your audience? Is there a specific item or new purchase you want to show the lime light? Is it all about that amazing new pair of shoes you got? What else would you wear with them? Build a story around the object. For example a fabulous print tee would look perfect with the shoes so create an outfit around the star.
According to Claire (and most photographers) natural lighting ALWAYS owns artificial glow, so choose a spot where the light is bright and shadows do not hang around. Early AM is best! If you want to head outside with your loot, do so. If you’d prefer to stay indoors find a spot near a window that will provide enough sunshine for a great shot.
3. Choose a background
What is going to make your “story” pop? As a beginner flatlayer I prefer a blank canvas, usually white, so the items I’m displaying get the best exposure. Textured backgrounds such as fur and material can also work, it just really depends again on the look you are trying to convey. I find plain white to be more pure, but I’ve seen plenty of fun snaps with a more dramatic background (check out Claire’s Instagram for inspo). Just remember not to let the background distract from your items as that will hinder your shot. If my memory serves me correctly one of the two ladies who hosted the workshop liked flatlaying on an old door frame! Creative much. One last tip – make sure the surface you’re using is flat! Obvious, but very important.
4. Spend time arranging
This is where the fun starts, arranging your items! Think about what sort of vibe you want from your flatlay. Do you want a busy picture filled to the brim with many things to look at? Or would you prefer a more simplistic and sleek design? The possibilities are endless. There is no way proper to flatlay “correctly”, it’s all about what you believe to be artistic! Be creative, be bold, have fun. Always look at your design through your camera or phone and tweak away! Things will always look different through a camera lens and I always look at my flatlays in the square option. It’s easier to take the picture in the square rather than cropping.
5. Snap that picture!
Always hold the camera or phone directly above the items, making sure your hand is as steady as possible. The experts suggest standing on a sturdy stool or chair if you need more height, but please be careful. We don’t need a flatlay fail! And snap snap snap. If you notice something is looking a bit dodgy rearrange your items. And keep on snapping until you’re happy!
The girls suggest a few different editing applications to tilt, brighten and highlight your pictures. Try Snapseed if you’re an advanced editor (it’s Margaret Zhang‘s favourite) but if you’re looking for something a bit less complex VSCOCAM and Square Ready are good. I’m quite partial to VSCO, it’s got a huge variety of both free and paid options and it really gives your pictures a professional look.
Instagram is a great place to share your flatlay masterpieces because you can tag and credit the brands you’ve displayed in your snap. Who knows, they may even regram you and share your art even further. I recently put my first attempt at flatlaying online featuring some of my current beauty faves, and the picture was regrammed by Perth fashion designer San Cora as I’d featured one of their fun designs in my snap! It is definitely a warm fuzzy feeling when people appreciate your pictures and share.
Now it’s your turn. Get flatlaying! I’d love to see your attempts so get tagging me on Instagram (@theillusivefemme). Show me your stuff! Big thanks to Claire and Emma for the brilliant tips. All pictures were taken at the recent course, so I can’t say any of the great lays are mine, but I was totally inspired snapping everyone snapping away. Happy flatlay!
Have you ever created a flatlay? If you were making a flatlay today what would you show me?