I’m pretty sure that by now everyone knows what a flat lay is, even my Mum seems to think she is some kind of expert. While the flat lay is not a new thing, it has managed to hang around for a long time and remains a popular way of showcasing products. A flat lay can be the visual story of your product and helps people picture what your product might bring to their lives. If it is styled in an eye-catching setting then people are going to want to know what the product is and how they can get their hands on it! So how do you get the most of your flat lay? There are many different styles of flat lay, so why not branch out and learn a new style that will help bring your product to life?
My flay lay style has changed over time, at the beginning I was all about the well-aligned, very square look (I’m still a big fan) but I also love the more natural look of some of these styles. So, read, experiment, and find a style that works for you and your product.
THE STRAIGHT UP
This style is for all those perfectionists out there who appreciate a good straight line and have an eye for detail. The Straight Up style comes a lot more naturally to me than the more casual styles, I love to see things lined up nicely. I line these up by sight, but if you’re new to this style then a ruler might help you get that precise look.
Gather the main items you want in the flat lay and mark out your square, place an object in each corner so you know where the outer line will be. Choose a hero item to go in the middle, this will be the thing you most want people to notice. Then build in other props and products around this layout, I generally start from the outside and work my way in. Choose props that complete the overall story of your product, for example if your product is a candle you might have some of the candle ingredients, matches, candle snuffer, and other items that paint a picture of relaxation.
These flat lays generally work better for flat objects, tall or wide items can throw off the perspective of the square. When I do combine these items with flat items I find the tall ones work best in the bottom corners. Use a range of object sizes, this makes it more interesting and intriguing to viewers.
STRAIGHT UP GOOD FOR
This style is great for stationery, interior mood boards, ingredients and kitchen utensils, books, smaller home ware and décor items.
THE RIGHT ANGLE
This style is a variation of the Straight Up and is a very eye-catching way to display your items. The same rules apply as for Straight Up, use a ruler for this one as the main outer line is much larger and it can be harder to get it straight. Place the items that will form the outer line in first then you can use the other props to build back from there. Put the items that you want most visible at the front and middle sections of the flat lay, items less important to the story and gap fillers should go at the pointy end or on the sides as they may get cropped. Place objects at interesting angles and fill all little gaps with smaller pieces, stepping back regularly to make sure everything is straight.
This style is harder than the Straight Up as everything needs to be dead straight, anything that is not in line will stand out like a sore thumb. Definitely best to use flatter items with this style and take the photo from the best bird’s eye view you can get, I always stand on a stool for these ones, if you don’t take the photo directly overhead it can mess with the perspective. Using items with a flat edge to build the outer lines makes it easier to get it straight.
RIGHT ANGLE GOOD FOR
This will work perfectly for stationery and books, anything that is largely flat and has straight edges. A great style if you are planning on adding text to your image as there is a lot of negative space.
This is fast becoming one of my favourite styles because it’s so versatile and works for many different products. It might seem a little easier to achieve than the straight options but it can be tricky to master that perfect trickle effect. I always choose an object that I am going to use as the base of the image, this item is larger than the other items in the image and will be the starting point of your trickle effect. Place your final and smallest item in at the point so you can clearly see the direction you want to take. From there you need to fill the remaining space between these items. Start with the larger items at the base end and make your way up to the point end, decreasing the size of the objects as you go. Once you have the main items in place fill any gaps with small objects.
The most important thing about this style is that is flows properly, any wrong-sized item in the wrong place will throw out the proportions and disrupt the flow. With this style it’s easy to step back and see which item is out of place so you can make the necessary adjustments.
MISS TRICKLER GOOD FOR
So many things… jewellery, small homeware and décor items, food styling, stationery, beauty products.
CENTRE OF ATTENTION
The name says it all really – this style is great when you want to focus on that one special item. It draws the eye in and gives you no option but to focus on the product. This style is also relatively easy to assemble, but there are some key points to note. Choose your hero item along with something slightly larger which will frame the hero. This frame could be a chopping board, book or linen and creates layers and interest, drawing the eye in to your hero piece. Choose a small selection of props to place around the central item, generally smaller items that help to tell the story but don’t overpower the hero.
Layer up! You’ll typically have a smaller space to work with so creating layers is the key to making this a stand out style. Think something soft, hard, paper, wood, marble… choose props that are a different texture or material to the hero. The layers don’t even have to be fully visible – they are just there to create interest and help draw attention to the hero so get creative.
MISS CENTRE OF ATTENTION GOOD FOR
This style works for most things – beauty products, clothing, baby accessories, ceramics and homeware, jewellery, food, the list goes on.
MESSY BUT PRETTY
This style looks like it might be quite easy to achieve and I’m sure there are people out there that do find it easy, but I am not one of those people. My instinct to have everything aligned kicks in and ruins it. I find it easiest to start with a hero item for this one, everything else is placed randomly so this at least gives you a starting point. Place your larger items in next, create layers and stack items on top of each other for detail. You will need to step back from this one quite often and check your placement and fill remaining gaps with the smallest items using interesting angles.
Have some of your items hanging outside of the frame so that when you do your final crop the item is cut off, I like the full frame option of this style as it creates the illusion that the image is larger than what the viewer sees in front of them. Really think about what this scene would look like in real life, turn your unsightly messy desk into a work of art by using your best stationery, flowers, coffee mug and pens. It creates a story that people want to be a part of and therefore they will invest in your product.
MISS MESSY BUT PRETTY GOOD FOR
Just about anything, great for showing relaxing scenes for beauty products, perfect for desk settings and food styling.
So, there you have it, so many flat lay options to choose from! I hope this is helpful to some of you, if you have any further queries about anything flat lay related feel free to post a comment below. Of course, if flat lays are just not your thing give us a call we would be happy to design some for you.
Until next time…..Nikki