Flat lay photography is a direct overhead shot of products laid flat on a surface below the camera. It gives the viewer the impression of looking at things from just above, as though they’re looking at products that could be on their own table in front of them.
Flat lay product photography is becoming increasingly popular as it can create a more intimate feel for the viewer than a heavily staged product photo. It’s especially popular in the food, fashion and cosmetic industries.
Flat lay puts the products in the minds of the consumers in a more authentic, down-to-earth style. It’s becoming increasingly competitive with lifestyle photography for this reason, and can be used not only on eCommerce stores, but also as social media content where these kinds of images generate a lot of traffic.
You’ll be surprised at how much engagement you can generate with a stylish arrangement of products. It’s also a great way to show the finer details of your product. Great product photos are essential to your eCommerce businesses and flat lay photography can be just the thing to elevate your online store to the next level.
Now that you know the basics, you’re probably wondering how to take good flat lay photos. Here are some of our flatlay photography tips to help upscale your brand.
While it’s technically possible to point and shoot from above, using a tripod is a more precise and safe method. Most tripods have a mobile centre column that allows you to tilt the camera vertically downward to take a flatlay. If not, you can get an accessory lateral arm that you can attach to your tripod, which will allow you to position the camera so it is angled down over the flatlay.
When it comes to flatlay photography and lighting, natural daylight is a great option as it can help to reduce shadows, which can otherwise be a problem. However, if you enjoy being experimental with photography, you might enjoy the artistic effect the shadows create (but note this is rarely a good look for product displays). South and west-facing windows will expose your flatlay to stronger sunlight, and therefore are more likely to create shadows. To avoid shadows, north or east-facing windows will give softer daylight. Placing matt white boards (bounce boards) in an enclosure placement around your flat lay will help reduce the shadows too.
The perfect background
With eCommerce flatlay photography, it’s important that you have a good background. A poor quality one can completely compromise the integrity of your photograph – and the product. A pure white background is the failsafe option as it lets your products pop against the plain backdrop. But it can also be advantageous to get creative, as a more stylised image can express your brand aesthetic and identity. Try and think of materials that correspond with your product; it could be wood, slate, corkboard, fabric – you name it. How to shoot product videos gives some great advice on choosing the perfect background for your eCommerce photography.
Props can really help to elevate your flatlay as they help the consumer to visualise the product in situ. Functional props are self-explanatory, for example, if you’re taking a photograph of a cake, it would naturally be accompanied by a fork, or maybe have a separate slice on a plate. Next, you could add a napkin…you get the point.
Other props might require a little creativity. Less obvious props can help visualise a lifestyle; for example, a flatlay of stationery could be accompanied by a pair of glasses and maybe a laptop/tablet to create an academic aesthetic. A designer bag might be accompanied by a passport and a pair of sunglasses to promote the idea of luxury and travel, telling a story about using the bag on holiday.
Less is often more when it comes to props, but a few carefully selected items can help cultivate a brand image and tell a story.
It’s important that all the component parts of the photo harmonise with each other. Choose props that are a complementary colour to your products to ensure the visual cohesion of the flatlay. This could mean a monochrome theme, where everything in the photo is the same colour, or even different hues of the same colour.
Perhaps create a custom palette, such as pastel colours, neutral colours, or bright colours depending on your personal taste and brand. It’s a good idea to take some time planning your flatlay as the colours can determine the overall mood and feel of your photograph, and therefore, your product. Consider which palette best reflects your product and brand for a great flatlay.
Now you know you know our best flatlay photography tips you can get creative with your eCommerce product photography and come up with your own amazing flat lay photography ideas.
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