How do you take flatlays? Do you need an expensive camera? What about lights and backdrops?
These are a few common questions we see in our Facebook Group. And while you certainly can purchase expensive equipment, the fact is that great flatlays can be cheap and easy!
If you, like so many other sewists, are wanting to take a flatlay using what you already have, here are a few tips. (Each of the pictures you see was taken with an iPhone!)
1. Lighting is key
Find the best light in your space - any natural light source will do.
- Find the biggest light source available (open window, open door, etc.). Get as close to the light as you can without being in direct sunlight. I prefer to shoot by a north or south facing door or window to get soft light without shadows.
- Make sure all the lightbulbs in the room are off for a more natural look
- Get more balanced lighting by using a white poster board as a reflector. Simply place it on the opposite side of your light source to bounce the light back to your flatlay
2. Choose a background
- I love to use my table top or textured fabric to add some depth
- Hobby Lobby (and most likely other craft stores), which carry huge poster boards in a variety of colors that are inexpensive and easy to store
- If you want to go bigger, seamless paper rolls are a great option if you have the space to store them!
3. Keep it simple or add a few props
I love using seasonal items and greenery. I’ve purchased a few items specifically for flat lays but usually use what I already have.
Sometimes I like to just use the piece of clothing I’ve sewn, and a contrasting background. Be mindful of the props you use, you want them to add interest to the piece that you are photographing, not distract from it!
Try to create some balance in your photo, rather than perfect symmetry. An example of this is adding a flower or some greenery to one side of your photo and a prop that goes well with your main piece to the other side (shoes, hat, book, etc).
Experiment with creating different shapes with your items. A great way to learn how to place the items in your flat lay is to look at photos that are appealing to you, and notice what they have in common.
You can tell a story with the items you photograph. As an example: Pairing Christmas Pj’s with a Christmas book and a garland creates a lovely winter theme.
4. Hang it up and shoot from different angles
Don’t be afraid to hang things from hooks or shelves, or drape them over baskets.
Sometimes I choose not to lay my items flat to photograph them. When I hang clothes up the same rules apply - keep your background basic and a solid, neutral color.
Hanging up the clothing item has the added bonus of showing off drape!
You can also shoot pictures of items from the side or at different angles to switch it up. Shooting from the side is a great way to show off your deliciously chunky waffle knit.
5. Edit, crop, and touch up your photos.
Rarely do pictures come out perfect on my first try.
That's why it's best practice to use an app like Lightroom (the mobile Lightroom app is free and user friendly) to straighten, crop and subtly brighten your photos.
Lightroom even has great tutorials made by professional photographers to teach you how to take your photos to the next level.