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The IABT Guide to: Flatlay Photography


Happy Saturday and welcome to today's exciting post where I share some dos and don'ts on how to create your very own awesome flatlay photos. If you find this helpful then please let me know and if you have any of your own tips that I've not included then leave them in the comments. Let's get started.

Here's some flatlays to kick us off before I go into my Top Tips to taking a great flatlay photo...


Your Flatlay should tell a story, whether it's simple and subtle or obvious and overstated, it's all about the narrative. Ensure every piece of your flatlay relates to the story whether it's your favourite products or your travel essentials or your OOTD - they should relate to your story.

What do you think the themes of these flatlays are?



Don't take the first layout as your final one. Experiment with your composition, with your colour scheme and your objects. I can't count the amount of photos I take when doing a flatlay and how many times I move things around. 
Find what looks the best.

For all of the flatlays included in Today's post, they weren't the only photos I took. I had multiples of each which I then went through to pick my favourite. I even set them back up after I had finished to retake as I couldn't find one I really loved. Above are just 4 out of about 20 or so and in each I mess faff around with the layout, where things are, whats in the photo, what's not. Then I whittle it down to my top 3, then my top two, then my favourite and the one I will use. It's a simple yet tedious process. Oh the things we do to get that "perfect" flatlay.



Whether you're going for a more Simple and Clean look or a bit more Cluttered yet Stylish, make sure your entire flatlay reflects that. But also consider symmetry, and utilize space and empty space.

I love both of these flatlays, not because I took them or they're of things I love, but because they're so different yet nice to look at. A simple, clean and minimal one on the left, and a more busy, almost cluttered but not quite one to the right. But both are clear, both have a good look to them and both catch the eye.



Choose a theme and stick to it e.g. Black & White or Red White & Blue or hues of Purple and Pink.
Spread out the colour.
Ensure no clashing colours. If in doubt, get some inspiration, Pinterest, other blogs, Instagram, they are all great tools to help you create your own flatlay.

The colour schemes are very clear on both of these flatlays but they look much better with those themes than they would if there were a rainbow of colours all over the place. I like how uniform yet creative and chic it looks. What do you think? 



Most flatlays have one or two focus pieces, the other items are to add value and depth. 
Make sure your focus pieces are exactly that and don't get over looked by the embellishments
Left: My brand new FujiFilm Instax Mini 8 Camera which I received for Christmas from my boyfriend. I've not just taken a photo of the camera but included some fun embellishments like the scrabble-esque letters, the close-up lens and some photos I've snapped. But the main focus is on the camera.

Right: Some new books I have purchased which I am loving. Again I've not just taken a photo of them side by side, I have included an extra texture i.e. the wooden board, also a candle because I like to have a candle lit as it calms me so I can concentrate on reading, and then my glasses because I wear them to read. Much more exciting with other things to look at, but the main focal point is the books.



With all the hard work of composition and ensuring everything looks exactly how you want it to, don't ruin it by not getting the shot right. A birds eye view will get in your entire masterpiece, if you decide to crop it then you can do so in editing, but ensure you get the full image first.

I for one prefer flatlays when they're taken from a birds eye view. That doesn't mean that everyone has the same opinion. Different kinds of photos will cater to different views. It's just a general rule of thumb to get taking flatlay photos down and so you're comfortable with how to create one for yourself.



Many flatlays are ruined because they're too dark or the lighting is too harsh. natural lighting is always best. Walk around your house with an object and a camera and do some test shots, see where has the best lighting.

Top Left: Natural Lighting  - Top Right: Artificial Lighting
Bottom Left: Dim Lighting  -  Bottom Right: Natural Lighting

Can you see the difference? Which photo would you want to look at more?



If you are an avid flatlay taker, then you will know that a plain white background isn't always what the photo calls for. So use your surroundings. Wooded or tiled floors, beautiful faux fur throws or blankets. Or fake it, wallpaper is a great way to get the background you desire. I have a faux wooden effect wallpaper which I use, and a board covered in a marble effect vinyl which are both specifically for flatlays - No one would ever know unless you tell them and they still look amazing.

As you can see by the flatlays I have created here, I don't just use a solid white background in all of them, I add different textures and layers so a grey blanket or a gold place mat and a white wooden tray. In the bottom left photo you can see the marble effect background which is just a piece of vinyl stuck onto cardboard to create a sturdy and awesome background. In the bottom right photo is the wooden effect wallpaper mentioned above, I simply lay it out on a tray, take my photo and roll it back up again when I'm finished. Easy, Affordable and looks Awesome.



Once you have taken your photo and get it onto a bigger screen, you may find it's a bit too dark or you want to brighten up the colours slightly. Use your editing apps and websites. Make white areas appear whiter, enhance the colour. Adjust the brightness or contrast. It doesn't mean it's a bad flatlay just because you have had to edit it slightly.

I decided when I was taking the photo that I wanted to make this image square because this is the traditional photo layout Instagram so I like to go "old school" if you like. As you can tell once edited, it looks a lot better, a lot clearer and a lot more professional and eye catching. Editing is a great tool and there are free editors on the internet like what I use for my blog photos which is Pixlr.com but apps like FacetuneVSCOCAM or InstaLayout are what I use for my Instagram photos. You don't have to be a genius to work them and they create incredible photos that you can be proud of.


10. #TAG, #TAG, #TAG

After all that hard work you want people to see what you have created. Tag the brands, products, inspirations, in it so they can see your masterpiece. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, all have the ability to tag, take advantage of that.

@narsissist @fujifilm_uk @jackwills @illamasqua @howtobeparisian @carolinedemaigret @anneberest @audreydiwan
#makeup #nars #illamasqua #palette #candle #howtobeparisian #book #camera #tech #fujifilm #instax #instaxmini #blackandwhite #black #white #flatlay #shinebright #lightbox 

Above are the tags that I would use when uploading this photo to social media. I always try to tag the brands/people/companies I include, and then anything I feel is relevant to the photo is what I hashtag.


I hope this has helped somewhat if you're looking at some ways to make your flatlay photos more eye catching. If you have any other tips that I've not mentioned then please let me know, they may help others and me. 

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