How To Create Amazing Flat Lay Photos For Your Site
Photography plays a huge role in bringing together your brand visually. It's often one of the first things people notice when they come to your blog or website, and it's a subtle but important means of connecting with your readers.
The reality is that beautiful pictures make us feel things. They can inspire us, motivate us, make us feel happy, and provoke a myriad of other emotions.
The power of photography is a great thing for business owners! You have the opportunity to create and use photography to draw in your readers, allow them to relate to you, and make them feel inspired by you.
Great photography helps build credibility in you and your brand, which is one reason I recommend every business owner invest in it.
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Creating beautiful flat lay photos is a great way to build yourself a library of gorgeous photos without investing hundreds of hours in creating them.
That being said, creating, shooting, and editing great photos isn't easy as pie. You'll want to go into it with a healthy dose of optimism, creativity, and patience.
Shoot In Natural Light Outdoors
One of the most difficult problems to overcome in shooting your photos indoors is trying to eliminate shadows and odd lighting. If you already own a professional lighting setup for indoor photography, by all means use it! If not, it simply isn't worth the cost to purchase one when you can take your photos outside.
The best time to take your flat lay photos outdoors is when the light is even. Overcast days are perfect for this because the clouds provide a perfectly even white light to brighten up your photos.
You can certainly take your photos on a sunny day as well, but I would recommend avoiding direct sunlight. Direct sunlight tends to be very harsh, creates shadows, and leaves your photos with overly exposed patches right next to dark shadows.
Sometimes this can be fixed up with professional editing software, but it is difficult to do and will rarely look as good as a photo that was taken in neutral lighting.
Use A Professional DSLR Camera If You Have Access To One
Smartphone cameras are getting better and better, and if that is all you have to work with then rest assured that it will do the job. However, know that a professional camera will always do a better job.
With a DSLR you can adjust the depth of field and the exposure settings to get the highest quality image. A DSLR will also focus on the image in a more natural way.
While a smartphone camera may stretch the image to accommodate the whole picture, the lens on a DSLR will have no problem. If possible, I recommend renting or borrowing a good DSLR to do your shoots.
I use a Canon Mark III from our wedding photography days and love it. That being said, the Mark III is far above and beyond what is truly needed to create flat lay photography, and you'll find that a simple and relatively inexpensive DSLR will do the job just fine.
Keep Your Props And Colors On Brand
Selecting props and dreaming up photo ideas is the fun part of creating your flat Lays. One thing to keep in mind is to make sure that all of the props you select are on brand and visually appealing. The colors in your flat lay photos should always reflect the brand colors from your business style guide.
The style of your photos should also reflect the style of your brand. For example, if your brand's vibe and mood are more straightforward and businesslike, you probably won't want to use very many feminine props like flowers and jewelry that have become popular on Pinterest lately.
Flat Lay Photography Props
Flowers and greenery
Pens and pencils
Cups of coffee
Purses and wallets
Shoot Photos In Bulk To Save Time
Setting up your photography workspace is often more time consuming than shooting the photos themselves. In light of that, it's a great idea to shoot in bulk.
I try to get at least 25 finished photos out of each of my photo shoots. More often though, I aim for at least 40. With all of the time it takes to gather your materials, set up your workstation, and then edit them all, it's best to get as many done in one go as you can. I generally only do flat lay photo shoots once every 4 to 8 weeks.
Set Your Focus On One Item In The Photo
One of the most disheartening experiences when you're learning photography is shooting a bunch of photos you think are going to be great, and then finding out in post that they are all out of focus. Ask me how I know!
To combat this, it's important that in every photo you take you focus your camera on JUST one item in the frame. I recommend choosing one of the props that is most visually appealing to focus on because it will be the one that is clearest in the finished photo.
If you are using a DSLR, this step is simple. As long as you're using the auto focus setting, the camera will choose something to focus on and create the rest of the image from there.
Another perk I love about DSLRs is the ability to manually choose where the focus should be. While a camera typically employs its focus in the center of the frame, with a DSLR you can move the focus to other areas of the frame.
This is typically less important when you're taking pictures of people or landscapes, but when you are trying to take a photo that is restricted to a piece of rectangular foam board, and you want to focus the camera on an object off to the side, this feature makes a world of difference.
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Edit Your Photos Well
Once you’ve taken the time to shoot a few dozen photos and put away your supplies, your job isn't quite done. You'll still need to edit them! I know, I know. You're probably ready to call it a day by now.
But editing your photos is super important! To create a photo that is truly on brand, you want it to fit your brand's style. Whether that's bright and clear or dark and moody, or something in between, editing will make the difference.
I recommend applying the same preset to all of your photos, if you choose to use presets. As a former wedding photographer, I don't use presets for my photos.
However, I've also had a lot of experience with editing and there is no shame in using a preset if it works for your brand. The key here is consistency. All of the photos you use in your business should refer back to your brand colors, vibe, style, and theme.
When it comes to editing, I use and highly recommend Lightroom. It's simple enough to learn even if you don't have any editing experience. If you know Photoshop, that's another great one to use. And if you're looking for a free option that's best suited for beginners, Picmonkey is good one to try.
Another method I highly recommend?
If you find that photo editing is something that takes up a lot of your time and mental energy, your business will be much better off if you spend that energy on the real work and outsource smaller tasks like photo editing to someone who is a professional.
Question: What part of blog photography do you struggle with the most? Let me know in the comments below!
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