The Art of the Flat Lay

You may look silly while taking it –either you have your camera or phone held above your head, you’re standing on a chair or on your knees as if assembling an extra-large jigsaw puzzle –but a well-crafted flat lay can turn an Instagram post into an image worthy of a page in a glossy magazine. Want to snap one just like your favorite blogger? Here are the tips and tricks for styling flat lays that will earn you lots of hearts.

 kinfolk rebecavivin

Let there Be Good Lighting

Lots of natural sunlight is most flattering to your flat flay. But avoid early or late noon sunlight because you don’t want harsh shadows in your photo. You can set up next to a window or outside your apartment. Dine al fresco to take a well-lit flat lay of your meal, or if you’re inside the restaurant with poor lighting, there are dozens of apps you can use to edit your images like a pro.

burgundy theme mrpaddingtonbear

Pick A Theme

Are you travelling to New York? Dressing up for a pool party? Pick a theme that would cohesively tell your story, then you can pick a background and your focal point. You can even create a color palette to evoke a certain mood or season. Combine yellows with turquoise for a summer theme, or maroons and oranges for a fall-inspired flat lay. If your items are solid-colored, lay them out on a patterned background. For instance, a textured wooden table can serve as a nice contrast to your solid-colored tee and shoes. Add pops of color via plants, jewelry and other accessories.

feast margaret zhang flat lay shine by three instagram

Pay Attention to Proportions

To create the right scale, balance out larger items with smaller ones. You can choose a hero piece like a book you’re currently reading and then build around it. Scatter smaller items around such as a little tea cup along with scattered sweets to create a variety of colors and textures.


When in Doubt, Keep it simple

Sometimes, less is more. You can stick to a plain background and remove all unnecessary accessories to keep a minimalist composition. A clean concrete floor, a wooden table or a white rug or bed sheet can serve a great background. Just your neatly laid out #ootd can do the trick in creating a well-composed flat lay.

magazine and purse nataliehanks

It’s All in the Perspective

To achieve the flat in the flat lay, get a direct overhead shot. Stand on a chair or a step stool without blocking any of the natural light. Take as many snaps from above as you like, until you find your money shot.

Cover Image: FIGTNY

Image Credits: @rebecavivin@mrpaddingtonbear,@margaret__zhang@jess_hannah, and @nataliehanks

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