How to create a flat lay photograph

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

In the spirit of the month's Styling The Seasons flat lay theme a DIY showing you how to create your own flat lay photograph. I was nervous about this months Styling The Seasons challenge so did quite a bit of research before I got started. The most important thing I found is picking the right backdrop. Popular flat lays fall into two camps, dark and moody or light and bright. Deciding which camp you fall into will help you prepare. Once you have your backdrop decided on the rest starts to fall into place, here are the steps I went through to create my flat lay photos.

Step 1 & 2. Prepare your back drop - texture is best. If you don't have a beautiful rustic wooden table or perfect marble counter top to photograph against, fear not it's easy to fake it. I made my wooden backdrop from old floor boards battened together and whitewashed for a light rustic feel. It took about 30 mins to assemble and it was time well spent, I don't know why I hadn't done it sooner. I went light and bright with my backdrop but if you want to go moody use a dark grey or inky blue paint instead.

If you don't have wooden planks handy then use a natural textured fabric like linen, vintage linen works well and eBay is a great place to pick up napkins or tablecloths to photograph against.

Step 3. Gather your props - I imagine flowers or foliage will feature. If you're using flowers then pick blooms that look good from all sides. I also gathered other bits and pieces of a similar size that I wanted to include. I ended up only using the flower pot and candle but collected ribbons and other notions that I could use to create shape and movement. 

Step 4. Decide on your shape - I went for a circular wreath shape as it worked with the flowers. Other popular styles seem to be off centre scatters, clusters, items arranged in neat rows (I can't be neat so left this one!). I used wire fairy lights to create the shape and then used the pot and candle as a point from my flowers to grow from.

Step 5. Add your details - in this case I went for flowers moving away from the flower pot and candle and adding foliage to taper the shape at the top of the wreath. I added and removed items until I was happy with the overall look. 

Now all you need to do is photograph and share. I took lots of photo's on my phone and camera mixing up angles and zooming in on different details. 
I hope this has shed some light on how to create a flat lay photo, I'm no expert but has found this to work really well and is relatively simple to create at home. Having a movable back drop means you can easily move it about to catch the best light - its much easier than rearranging furniture every time inspiration strikes! Flay lays are also the perfect way to add a bit of creativity into your day they really don't take long and are incredibly addictive once you get started.

If you do take a seasonal flat lay then don't forget to use the #STSxmakelight hashtag to enter this months Styling The Seasons and Makelight competition to win a place on one of Emily Quinton's photography courses


  1. Hi there! Lovely pics you make! Can i ask the size of the board you made?


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