Tuesday 17 May 2016

Blog Photography // The Perfect Flat Lay

Whether it's on Pinterest or on Instagram, flat lays are everywhere. I'm always working on  perfecting and playing around with my flat lay methods, so I've decided to dedicate a post to mastering your own technique. Although they aren't for everyone, I find flay lays are my go-to when presenting products within blog photography and they can be a useful technique to practice and -hopefully- perfect. 

Backgrounds | I've collected various backgrounds for photographs over the months I've been blogging. They can make or break an image, so finding the right one to compliment your products is vital. If the sun isn't shining, I tend to opt for my marble background as it's easier to edit on Photoshop and can easily disguise any shadows. When I'm struggling with motivation, I need to add texture or my photographs seems to be lacking in something, I always reach for my Ikea Faux Fur Rug as it's a fool proof background when I want a bright image. Pinterest is a great place for inspiration in terms of DIY projects; my Pinterest-inspired faux white floor boards transformed my flat lays instantly. I got 4 planks of normal wood panels and glued, sawed and screwed them all together before painting them. 

Lighting | Natural lighting is so important in blog photography, but when it comes to flat lays it can be a different board game all together. Eliminating any shadows is vital for a crisp, clean flat lay as it means that there will be more focus on each product. To erase these shadows I like to have my light coming from all angles, but I know not everyone has multiple light sources so upping your ISO to 400-800 and playing around with your aperture and shutter speed can help to brighten your image. Having a single- toned background is very important if you're editing your images or you want to keep a certain theme throughout, so I would suggest making sure your area is clear and make sure that you're getting an even amount of light through before you start to get snap happy. 

Focus | If you have a DSLR like myself then learning about your manual camera settings is extremely useful when shooting a flat lay. I leave them on all the time, but when it comes to focusing on the right subject that's when things get difficult. Although layering products can look nice, making sure that all products are on a similar level can help you make sure that everything is in focus, thus creating a clearer and more crisp image. If you want to add another layer without messing up the focus on the product, then adding a bunch of flowers to the corner of the image is the easiest way to do so. 
Birds Eye View | Aside from editing, capturing the image from a birds eye view is the final step before you create your perfect flay lay. I always lay out my products on the floor as I find this is an easy way of getting the shot I want. If I need to gain more height or I have a bigger area to capture, then standing on a chair can easily help you out. 

Compostiton + Props | I shoot all of my images vertically and whenever I am capturing an image I make sure I have a few to use for Instagram too. Portrait photographs are my favourite; I find them easier to style as I find you have far more room to play with. Although I like minimal images, when it comes to flat lays I often find that the busier the better. Complimenting colours and varying positions can all make an image more pleasing to the eye, so playing around with your composition is the easiest way to transform a flat lay. 

Playing with your corners and never being afraid to leave negative space are two of my biggest tips for those starting out. Using lines both horizontally and vertically is a great place to start, as they are naturally quite aesthetically pleasing. However, if you're like me and you prefer a messier composition then I would recommend choosing 3-5 products before you start playing around with the positioning of them. Corners of items can help to add to the composition of an image, or you can crop and cut away products once you start editing. Balancing larger items with smaller items can help give a photograph a perspective. For instance, if you're going to feature a pair of folded jeans and t-shirt like this, folding the ends up on your jeans and adding a pair of sunglasses or lacy shoes can help to frame the image and give the viewer more to peer at. 

Props To use:

- Muji Drawers
- Magazines
- Candles
- Flowers
- Washi Tape 
- Stationary 

Inspiration | If you're really stuck on what to photograph and how to get started, then finding a good source for inspiration will definitely help to get you motivated. Although Pinterest is a great place to start, I tend to gravitate towards my favourite Instagram accounts when I'm stuck in a rut. In my opinion Phoebe Soup, Emma Kate and Faith Pierce are the best places to start if you're looking for regular photographs to lust after. 

What are your flat lay tips?

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