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How I Get My Flatlay Style Just Right
(and you can too!)
Six months ago, I had no idea how to style a flat lay. In fact, I'd never even heard of a flat lay. Then I started seeing beautiful styled desktops and brand photo shoots all over the blogosphere.
It didn't take me long to realize that if I wanted my brand to stand out online, I was going to have to start using professional, unique images. In short, the hordes of pink and gold flatlays just weren't going to cut it.
As a former wedding photographer, I'd been around the block a few times learning how to create bright, beautiful photos with the right elements of style and composition. I'd spent enough time behind the camera to know how to get a good shot and how to get my lighting just right.
That being said, I was surprised to find that styling flat lay images is a whole 'nother ballgame. As effortless as it looks, there's a lot of forethought and planning that goes into a really well-done styled photo shoot.
If you're thinking about styling your own brand images, this one is for you! These are the top five things I wish I'd known about styling flatlays.
Leave Some White Space
This one is huge, you guys. When I first started out, I thought the best thing I could do was pile a ton of random objects into each photo. In some cases, you can definitely get some cool shots this way.
But here's the thing. You don't want every single photo to be a jumbled mess of magazines and candles and lipsticks and whatever other things you can find around the house.
Leave some white space.
I promise that once you crop and edit the photo it won't look as weird as it does on your camera screen. Give it a little space to breathe, and try leaving white space in different areas of the photo.
You can see from these shots below that leaving white space in different areas of the photo can completely change the tone and mood of the shot.
Focus on the Details
This is the second biggest mistake I made when I was first starting out. I tried to make every shot a new arrangement of objects in the photo.
I didn't focus on details, so each photo ended up looking way too similar.
Here's what to do instead.
Style your work area any way you'd like, and then spend some time taking detail shots of different areas. Get up close and personal and take both vertical and horizontal shots to maximize the number of images from each styled setup you create.
Choose Colors That Go Together
My next piece of advice to you is to use colors that go well together. You don't have to whip out a color wheel and spend a ton of time debating over which colors go with which.
Just grab the props you have and play around a little to find combinations that really flatter each other. This is a great way to test if the brand colors you've chosen actually work in real life or not too!
Stick With A Theme
Here's a mistake I see new bloggers make all the time when they are trying to take their own photos.
They don't have a theme!
They usually have some brand colors in mind, so they grab a bunch of props in those colors and throw them together.
Guys, you might be able to get a mediocre shot this way. But if you want to take really high quality photos that set your brand and business apart from everybody else in your industry, you're going to need to infuse your brand into your visual elements. And that means your photos need to have a theme.
If you look at my shots below, you can clearly see that there is an overarching theme or idea behind each photo. The props aren't just random things I had laying around. Each of them ties back into the theme and supports the style.
Get good at this one thing, and you will start creating some gorgeous photos!
It's All About Texture
Many people think that texture doesn't matter in photos because it's something you see, rather something you touch.
Those people aren't giving the human eye enough credit! Our eyes are extremely perceptive and are able to pick up very fine details in an image that we don't even know we are looking for.
This is why incorporating different textures into your photos is so important. It's one of those tiny things that makes a huge difference in the finished product.
So what are some textures you can incorporate into your photos?
For me, I like to use wood, glass, metal, paper, food, ceramic, and a variety of plants. I'll usually choose three to five of these elements to use in a styled image.
Add A Pop of Color or Two
Alas, another mistake I made in the beginning! Consider the props you have in hand versus the background you have to set them on. Cameras aren't quite as good as our eyes are at seeing the differences between colors.
So if you set pastel props on another pastel background, even if it's a different color of pastel, the photo is going to come out a little flat. You aren't going to get that bright and glamorous “oomph” you're looking for in the final photo.
I triy to include one or two, but never more than three, pops of color into my photos to draw the eye and brighten up the image.
Zoom in on Your Props
It's okay to "cut off" part of your props when you edit your photos. In fact, I highly recommend it. When you crop your image so that part of your props around the edge are cut off, your final photo has more dimension.
And dimension is a good thing! It helps eliminate that “I made this myself on my kitchen floor” vibe.
So once your photos are taken, spend some time playing around in your photo editor. Practice doing different crops and getting different angles to see what looks best.
And if you're feeling low on time, be sure to grab my free pack of awesome styled stock images below! You'll get 10 images to start you off right, plus a handful more every single month in your inbox.