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Five Steps For A Perfect Flatlay

After blogging for a couple years, I think that I have finally figured out five steps for a perfect flatlay. What fun would it be to keep my tips and tricks to myself right? So here you have my five steps to achieve a perfect flatlay. I hope that this post helps you improve your flatlay skills and gives you a good insight into the world of blogging, if you don’t blog yourself.

Oh and before we get into it! Remember that you can click any of these photos to make them larger, just incase you want to see exactly what’s going on, up close.

Five Steps For A Perfect Flatlay, How To Take A Flatlay

STEP ONE – YOUR FLATLAY ‘STUDIO’
First things first, you need a place to take your flatlays. I take mine on a spare piece of kitchen shelving, right in front of a window. Underneath a higher window can work well too, just try not to get too many shadows. This is because the key to a good flatlay is lighting. The best sort of lighting for a flatlay, is of course natural lighting. However, there are those terrible days throughout the year, especially in winter where photography can look completely off during the day time. In these circumstances, I use a ring light. The particular one I have is from Fotogenic. There are heaps of other alternatives, so do your research  if you’d like to try out artificial lighting. You can also try making your own form of artifical lighting. For example, my boyfriend has made me a DIY photo box which I really like for taking photo of arm swatches, all year round. I find that it brings up the true colours of the swatches better than natural light.

Where To Take A Flatlay, What To Take A Flatlay On

STEP TWO – PROPS 
This step is definitely optional. If you want to take a flatlay of products without anything else in the frame, just scroll down to number three. To me, this step takes your photos to the next level. Products can sometimes look a bit boring or dull if they’re on their own, so it’s always good to have props! One question I get a lot of the time, is where to find props. I usually start off with homeware stores and pick up nice plates, placemats and wooden boards. I also pop into arts and crafts shops to get some paper that will add a bit of texture. Of course like many others, I too dabble in the fake flower department which I find really accessible, even from $2 shops. One important thing about props is to make sure you don’t go overboard.

Props For Flatlays, Wooden Boards For Flatlays, Marble Plates For Flatlays
Placemats For Flatlays, Paper For Flatlays
Quotes For Flatlays
Magazines For Flatlays, The Collective
Flower Props For Flatlays

 

STEP THREE – SETTING UP THE FLATLAY
Okay now that we have our flatlay studio and our props, it’s time to set up the flatlay! What to flatlay you ask? Anything your heart desires! For me, it’s 99.99% beauty related. I love taking flatlays of my makeup for that day, or a combination of makeup and other beautiful things I want to share.

There’s more to a flatlay than just plopping everything down on a board and taking a photo. You need to play around with the arrangement, a lot. There are different ways or styles of flatlays. Here are a couple examples I’ve grabbed from my instagram.

Examples Of Beauty Flatlays

Stacked up is you guessed it, placing products on top of one another. In my opinion this works best when you have a lot of the same item.

Lined up is essentially, making lines of the products. I typically do this, but I then take the photo on an angle. The products are all in order and pretty, and then I like to throw it off.

Mixed up is what I call an organised mess. This is probably the hardest to do actually because you need to try mix up the arrangement so it looks like there isn’t any pattern or reason. I know that sounds easy, but it is quite challenging.

Before taking your actual photo, just open up your camera and see if everything fits in frame how you’d like it. If it doesn’t, rearrange until it does.

STEP FOUR – TAKING THE PHOTO 
Guess what? You do not need a fancy camera. Every single photo you have seen here on my blog, my instagram or any other of my social media profiles since mid year 2015, has been taken with my LG G4 phone. Yep, that’s right, a smart phone!

In order to take good photos from your phone, you need good lighting (which you’ll already have from step one). Another key thing is to wipe your camera lens!!! So many people skip this step and their photo looks washed out or blurry because of clumsy finger prints. It’s so simple, just give it a quick wipe and your photo will honestly go from 0-to-100 real quick.

Now, actually taking the photos! Here are a few examples of how I set up the flatlay and tried shooting from a couple different angles.

You don’t need to fit everything in the frame. Remove any props that don’t work. Don’t worry if you get the bottom of your prop paper in the shot, you can always crop it out.

Try not to take photos from this angle because this will create more shadows and it can also be more difficult to read product labels.

Perfecto!

STEP FIVE – EDITING THE PHOTO 

Firstly, I move my photos to my computer and open up Photoshop. All I do in Photoshop is use the curve tool. From the image of the curve, you see a little square dot. I pull it up and left depending on the photo preview and that’s it. What curves does is it removes shadows, brightens up the photo in a really natural way and makes the background more true white. Also, you might see that I’m running Photoshop CS3. Definitely old school, but still fine by me.
Occasionally, if the background appears too blue, I’ll move my picture back to my phone and use Snapseed’s temperature or Facetune’s whiten tool to adjust it.

Photoshop Curves Tool For Flatlays, Photoshop Curves Tool For Brightness

I then save my photo and upload it in PicMonkey which I use for adjusting the highlights and contrast. Photoshop does allow you to do this aswell, but I personally just enjoy using PicMonkey.

When I’m in PicMonkey, I also like to use the crop tool and straighten tool. PicMonkey is also completely free, so I definitely recommend you check it out. Sometimes I skip Photoshop and use PicMonkey all together.

PicMonkey For Flatlays

Annnnd that’s it! Save and upload away.

FINAL WORD
Creating the perfect flatlay is not a quick process. You might want to rush it, but I really recommend that you don’t, You have to remember that if you up the brightness, you need to up your contrast or decrease your shadows to balance the image and the colours.

The aim of editing isn’t to make things look too far from truth. When I edit a photo, I try to imagine what it looked like when I took it. Not from what my camera showed me, but from what my eyes saw. Enhance the original image to make it clearer and more pleasing to the eyes. Don’t use these tricks to the stage where all of your products are washed out and indistinguishable (unless that’s your thang).

Please also remember that this style of editing with the bright white background is only my personal preference.

Before I sum this up, here is a final before and after. The before is straight from my phone camera and the after is of course, after every tip you’ve read here.

A Flatlay Straight From A Camera, Flatlay with LG G4
The Perfect Flatlay, How To Take The Perfect Flatlay, Five Steps For A Perfect Flatlay

Good luck 🙂

Are there any other tips posts that you’d like to see from me?

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