If you've been on Instagram or Pinterest lately, you've probably seen these really aesthetic looking product photos going around. They tend to be on a neutral background with the products spaced apart and a bird's eye view. These photos are called flatlays, and being able to make a flatlay is an incredible skill to have for your Instagram or blog. While I'm certainly no master, I do have a few tips and tricks to share on the subject.
Step 1 - Choose your featured items
The first step in the process is to choose what products you want to feature. I've decided to make a flatlay for my organic makeup line's Instagram page, @evxocosmetics. I'm going to use EVXO's Organic Mineral Mascara, Organic Liquid Foundation in the new packaging (coming soon), Organic Brow Pomade Wax in Light, and the EVXO Organic Lipstick in Radiant Rose. These items are going to be the focal point of my flatlay.
Step 2 - Make your background
Now you need your background. The most common backgrounds for flatlays are plain white surfaces, marble surfaces, and wood surfaces. For all three types, you can use a poster board with contact paper. For this flatlay, we'll be using marble contact paper.
Step 3 - Choose your lighting and begin arranging
When it comes to lighting a flatlay, natural light tends to be best. Now start placing your items. You'll most likely change their positioning multiple times throughout your shoot, but you need a place to start. I knew I wanted to incorporate these doilies so I tossed them in at the beginning and then layered on top of them.
Step 4 - Keep your items in place
Three of my featured products happen to roll. When you have an item that doesn't want to stay where you put it, pop a piece of tape on the back and let it know who's boss!
Step 5 - Put things in motion
A nice effect is to take any caps off your items to make it look like they're in use. This engages your audience and catches their eye.
Step 6 - Add texture
Adding texture to your photos is a great way to keep them from looking flat. This can easily be done with the doilies above, flowers, clothing, etc. Here I've gone ahead and added one of my sweaters to the corner of the photo.
Step 6 - Keep things off screen
While we're talking about adding things to the corner of the photo, it's always a good idea to have products and accent pieces creeping in and out of the photo. This makes the viewer think there's a lot going on behind the scenes, which excites the eye.
Step 7 - Add personal touches
While the above image looks fine and could potentially be post-able, it's not *great*. Now is when you want to start adding some personality to your photos. Collect things from your life, such as photos, candles you like, your favorite pieces of jewelry, shoes, notebooks, anything that you love that goes with the photos general aesthetic. Start strategically placing these items around your focal items.
I took a photo of the above image with my smartphone and then printed it with my HP Sprocket iphone printer. Photos, book covers and magazine pages are great ways to add flair to your images.
Step 8 - Take close-ups
This is a step that I didn't do for a very long time, and I missed out on a lot of great content because of it. When you have everything laid out like this, make sure to take close-ups of the individual products in the flatlay. That way in the future if you're doing a post about that particular product, you already have great looking content ready to go!
All done! Now is when you move on to editing, but that's a whole separate blog post! Let me know if these tips helped, or if you have any of your own that you'd like to share. Every time I've done a flatlay, I've improved. My earlier work was definitely nothing to brag about, but in order to get where I am now, I had to practice. Start practicing now and who knows where you'll be in a few weeks time!