How to Photograph Instagram Flat Lays: Are you a photographer or a blogger who wants to start an Instagram account? Or, do you already have an account and you’re looking to generate more interest in your brand? Well, look no further! Flat lays are a great way to mix up your content and get your followers interacting with you! Today, I’ll be sharing a few tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way and breaking down what I do to create my own Instagram flat lays. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to download my FREE Lightroom Preset: “Flat Lay” for easy editing, which you’ll find at the bottom of the page! Let’s get started…
Lighting – Lighting is the first thing that you should consider. There are many ways to light your flat lays, but I’m only going to focus on three common methods. The first is: Natural Light. This is by far the easiest and least expensive method to use. Arrange your flat lay in front of a large window and start snapping! Remember to be mindful of the time of day that you take your photos, avoiding times where there is harsh sun and/or low light. The second method is: Soft Boxes. I use soft boxes to create my own flat lays for the Chic Presets’ Instagram Account. Soft boxes are light diffusers that create a soft/even look that reduces shadows and evenly distributes the light. Set up at least two soft boxes on either side of your subject and adjust until you create a balance of light. The final method is: Tents. Light tents are usually square with translucent sides that diffuse the light. They are commonly used in product photography. You can buy them from a photography store or you can make your own! There are many tutorials on Youtube that take you through the process step by step.
Background – Choosing the right background for your flat lay will depend on where you want your followers’ eyes to land when they initially look at your photo. A White background allows your followers to focus their attention on the objects that you’re photographing without interruption (more about this below). A Colorful background attracts your eye to the photo as a whole rather than focusing on each individual object. A Textured background tells a story about where the photo was taken and can easily convey a mood or a feeling. All three are effective in their own way. Think about how you want your followers to interact with your photos and choose accordingly.Content Consistency – I’ve often asked myself why some Instagram accounts look more pleasing to the eye than others. After months of studying successful accounts, I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the main reasons is: content consistency. This means that you pick a theme (including brand colors, style, point of view, message) and you stick to it across all of your content (photos). You don’t necessarily want every photo to look the exact same, rather, you want each photo to relate to your overall brand on some level. When it comes to creating flat lays, make sure that you’re using objects that align with your overall brand. For example: The three photos that you see above are all completely different, yet they share some of the same elements. In this case: a black and white pattern. The photos on the right and left were snaps that I took in London. When I created the photo in the middle, I thought about how I could tie all three together and bring in my brand color (blush pink). I wore a striped sweater to reference the black and white that was dominant in the other photos and I selected pink roses to ensure that all three would relate to my overall theme, which is primarily pink. Quick Tip: Before creating my flat lays I always ask myself: “Does this belong in the Chic Presets world?” If yes, full steam ahead! If not, it’s back to the drawing board.
Composition – Think about how you compose your photos. Do you prefer a structured look, with a straight composition? Or, do you prefer to photograph your flat lays on an angle? Or, a mix of both? If I’m not sure what looks best, I arrange the items multiple ways and take multiple shots using a different composition each time. Eventually, I find the best composition for the photo.
Negative Space – Just like with other forms of art, negative space plays a big role in photography. Negative space refers to the empty space that surrounds an object. Negative space is soothing to the eye and provides a place for the eye to rest. Above I’ve provided a snapshot of my Instagram account. I’ve circled the flat lays that feature negative space. As you can see, when arranged in a grid, negative space evens out the gallery and gives followers a place to rest their eyes between the larger travel shots. As we discussed earlier, negative space will also bring your attention to the objects in the photo rather than requiring your eye dart around the image multiple times to understand the message you’re trying to convey. Reminder: Sometimes a lack of negative space can also be effective, but only if it’s executed well and with purpose. Picture a busy mural or a well laid out flat lay with more than 10 items.
Focus – Getting the right focus for your shot can mean the difference between a good flat lay and a GREAT flat lay! Using a tripod is always best, but if you don’t have one, steady hands can also do the trick. Quick tip: Set your camera to autofocus, get a solid grip on your camera body, take a deep breath, push the trigger down half way and when you’re confident that your hands are still… push the trigger all the way down. Snap! lol
Editing in Lightroom – Editing your flat lay photos in Lightroom is a great way to control multiple elements of your image. Editing a flat lay involves adjusting the Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, Blacks, Sharpening and Noise Reduction until you create the perfectly balanced photo. I personally love to boost the White in my flat lays until I get that professional studio look. I’ve created a Free Lightroom Presets called “Flat Lay” that I use for my own Instagram photos. It’s the perfect mix of all the elements that I shared above. Download it here for FREE! Looking for more Chic Lightroom Presets? Check out The Complete Collection.
Well, I hope that this tutorial was helpful and that you take advantage of some of these tips and tricks that I use on a daily basis. Remember, with the right information and a little creativity, you can do this! Have fun making your beautiful flat lays! Cheers.
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