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  • Writer's pictureElodie Giuge Photography

How to take better flat lays for social media in 7 simple steps

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

Looking for flat lay ideas as well as tips to shoot and edit them (from home, and on your phone)? Read on and watch the video demo!

Flatlay tutorial

Every business owner, blogger and influencer knows how valuable visual content is for their social media marketing.

Flat lays (pictures taken from a bird's eye view of a collection of items laid out on a flat surface) are very popular on social media; and in fact when I asked what small businesses wanted help with when it comes to their social media images, the most popular request was how to take better flat lays.

So if you want to up your flat lay game, follow these 7 simple steps.

1- Story

Don't fall into the trap of re-creating generic stock images; instead use this an as opportunity to create personalised images that tells a story for you - whether it helps you talk about something that differentiates you, or that starts a conversation with your audience.

Need inspiration? Here are some ideas for you:

  • show the tools you use and love

  • show something that inspires you

  • stage one of your rituals (work or not)

  • illustrate one of the benefits of your products / services

  • display a product from a local business you want to support

Photographer flatlay

2- Props

Using interesting props will instantly take your flat lay to the next level.

Gather the following:

  1. Start with items that relate directly to the story you want to tell - these are your 'hero' props

  2. Add in items that evoke your brand values (see ideas below)

You can also add in fillers: on-brand coloured items; or textures (i.e linen, fluffy blanket, wooden tray, etc)

Flatlay props ideas

Then refine your selection using the following principles:

  • Make sure you have elements of varying sizes

  • Stick to 2-3 colours, close to your brand colours

  • Make sure all selected elements make sense together

3- Lighting

Find a spot near a window and turn off all of your lights.

Tips: if the sun is directly hitting your window, use a white see-through curtain or a white bed sheet to soften the light.

Flatlay tutorial and video demo

4- Background

Keep your background simple - you can use a table, plain card, plain fabric etc.

If more texture is appropriate to your story, consider wood, textured fabrics, floor, concrete, or textured backdrop posters.

For a harmonious grid, make sure to keep all your backgrounds in similar tones.

5- Styling & composition

Make sure you've decided on your format (square / landscape / portrait) before you start shooting.

  • Decide if you want to fill your frame or leave space for text or design

  • Place your 'heroes' on your backdrop, and experiment when adding in your other props - placing some underneath / on top of / besides / touching / not touching / around the edges of the frame / etc.

  • Keep a balance of shapes

  • Stick to 2-3 colours colours

  • Leave some breathing space

Flatlay examples - Elodie Giuge Photography

6- Camera settings

In all honesty for flat lays you don't need to worry about your phone or camera settings, just as long as you make sure that you:

  • get plenty of soft natural light and turn off your flash

  • wipe your lens clean!

  • place your phone above the centre of your composition, and make sure your phone is perfectly horizontal

7- Editing

I recommend using Snapseed to edit on your phone. The options may be overwhelming at first but I suggest you keep it simple and focus on the settings below:

  • Highlights & Shadows - tweak until whites are white and blacks are black.

  • White balance - tweak if your photo has an unwanted yellow or blue tint.

  • Healing tool - remove unwanted distractions.

  • Rotate / Perspective - tweak if your lines are not level

  • Crop - to the desired format & composition.

For more info and inspiration, check out how I create 3 completely different flat lays it in this video.

Flatlay ideas for small businesses

Over to you to experiment with these techniques now!

I hope you find this framework helpful! If there is anything you'd like to learn more about, let me know in the comments!

If you would like to find out more about working with me for your branding images, schedule your free 15 min consultation now.

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