Flatlay Fumbles

It’s taken me a while to try accept and admit this, but when it comes to flatlay photography – I am a GOAT! I’ve worked hard to study an research this photography style, to implement that knowledge or learn as I pick up on my own flatlay aesthetic and style. But genuinely speaking, when it comes to doing flatlays, this girl knows what’s up…

Now earlier this week, I asked my Instagram followers to share with me some of their assumptions when it comes to flatlay photography. I get numerous DMs asking for advice, tips or just to review a follower’s flatlay. I don’t think I am THE standard for this, but it never hurts to get a 3rd opinion on your flatlay, especially since I am more than willing and happy to give such advice. But this time around, I turned the conversation around and wanted to know what people assumed when it comes to flatlays. Here are some of those responses.

“It’s difficult!”

If flatlays were easy, then everyone would be doing them. And even though anyone could literally take a flatlay photo, there is a generous amount of work that begins way before you even start snapping.

Way back in the beginning, I used to just Google ‘flatlay photography’ and sift through the images that came up. Whenever one appealed to me, I’d make a note of it and later ask myself why? Was it the product placement? The layout of the products? How many products are used? These were just some of the many questions I’d ask myself, something I think people don’t do now and hence, find difficulty in creating a flatlay – you’re going in blind.

Ideally, you should have some kind of idea or vision of how you’d like the flatlay to look like – because you’ve done the research – and then allow things to grow from there. Sometimes the vision you had in mind isn’t the end result, but make note of that.

Also, be patient with the process of flatlay photography. Frustrations are normal in the beginning as you start to put the pieces together and play around with product placement. Your initial vision may not work out as you begin to see it in reality – be patient with yourself as you start to move away from what you had in mind to what actually looks more appealing to your eye.

“Flatlays need faux fur to look nice/presentable”

I had a few people respond to backgrounds here – particularly thinking that white or marble tiles are the best background to use.

I’ll be honest, I use white backgrounds in the majority of my flatlays because I find that its a good base colour and allows for my products to stand out more. But although white or marble tiles may be the popular choice when it comes to backgrounds, don’t forget that different colours and textures can make just as great of an impact than white. I’ve used black, grey and patterns in my flatlays and it makes for a really refreshing look on my feed. So don’t be afraid to switch up the the background colours.

When it comes to faux fur, I get the luxury of this texture and how beautiful it can look in a flatlay, but there are a dozen more textures that work just as well. Wood, blankets, silk, lace or wool can easily be incorporated into your flatlay, so long that these textures make sense for the whole flatlay. Faux fur works if you want to create a winter themed flatlay, whilst lace is perfect for a vintage-styled flatlay. Consider the purpose of these textures and backgrounds and how they will work for the flatlay as a whole.

“It requires expensive props?”

“No ways!” was my initial reaction to this assumption, but then it really does depend on the theme and look you’re going for. If luxury flatlays are your vibe, by all means, go Gucci and Prada if you can.

I hardly spend a lot of money on a flatlay (unless I need to go and buy a certain product or prop that enhances the photo), but I genuinely try to keep my costs as low as I can without compromising on the quality of the end result of my flatlay.

I recycle magazines all the time because I make sure that I buy magazines with an appealing cover and overall look inside. Glamour magazine is my favourite prop to use because there is such a wide variety of colours, images and clean fonts that I can use, unlike Cosmopolitan magazine where the colours are brighter or the fonts are bigger and bolder, and don’t match the aesthetic that I’m personally going for. There’s nothing wrong with either of these magazines but which one can you use over and over again to create different flatlays? Because I’ve personally used 3 Glamour magazines to create 15+ different flatlays.

I have 2 faux Monsters Leaves and I use these almost every time I’m taking a skincare-type flatlay. This is a prop that will last forever and I don’t have to worry about it losing colour like the real leaves do. Buy one at MRP Home and you’ll be sorted forever (literally). If you do happen to buy fresh flowers, maximise your time and create 4 different flatlays with these flowers as props before they start to wilt. Sounds like a lot of effort, but you’re creating stock images for yourself to use in future. And if you have the correct editing apps, you could even change the colour of the flowers for more variety.

When it comes to using jewelry as props, I always buy mine during a sale, specifically the ones at Lovisa. If I can get 5 different earrings for R100 at Lovisa, I’m there and I’m specific on what jewelry I use (I love hoops, studs and geometric styles). As much as I consider jewelry for myself, I also aim to find some that would work well with my flatlays. Consider timeless colours like the classic gold, silver and rose gold, and trendy styles like hoops, drop earrings or enlarged studs.

I hope this post has been super helpful in easing some of your flatlay fumbles and assumptions. Take your time with it, be patient with yourself, and when you’re ready, check out my flatlay tutorials here.

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