A flatlay really isn’t my forte, I never seem to get the angles right, I either have too many products or not enough, I shoot them in the wrong place in the house, you know away from all that gorgeous natural light, or they take me hours to prep for one Instagram picture and then the dog steals the main piece, seriously this happens more than I like. Then there is the other side, I just don’t have the patience. But after a masterclass with Fujifilm ambassador Chio Fernandez, thanks to the guys at The Photography Show, I’ve picked up a few tricks to make the whole process actually fun and so much easier and I’m as so happy with how my pictures turned out, especially as I was using a new camera the new Fuji X-A5, I thought I’d share a few.
It All Starts With A Story
One of the key messages I took away from Chio’s masterclass was the concept of telling a story with your image. It should be more than just placing beauty products, stationary or food on a marble backdrop, think about what you want to portray with the picture and that will help with the set-up.
“My key tip is storytelling, what do you want to say with the image,” explains Chio. “Then you can stage and style it.”
Stying Your Flatlay
The fun bit – the styling. Start with your backdrop, I loved the faux wooden boards Chio was using, they are already square shaped making it easier for the gram, they are wipeable, which means you can spill on it without damaging, plus it adds a little variety to your shot. If you have those gorgeous sanded down wooden floors in your house use them, if not buy a few different backdrops, I love Photoboards they have a great whitewashed wood effect that you can get in a variety of sizes, Etsy and Captured by Lucy, who has great colour backdrops.
“Don’t forget your narrative,” added Chio.
While backdrops and props are important to the aesthetic of the flatlay, so is the narrative – don’t forget you are looking to convey emotion and a story with your feed, so keep that in mind when styling. Chio explained that her favourite props were flowers, cups of coffee, books, crockery, as well as food, and most important, don’t forget the “human touch”, a hand holding the fork or wrapped around the coffee mug. Which is probably why Chio also recommends the help of a tripod so you can easily include yourself in the image without worrying about quality.
Need an extra hand on styling, think about the colours, generally speaking choosing 2-3 unifying colours really does help unify the theme of the picture, I love the earthy tones of the waffles in the pictures with the wooden backdrop, while the pink sofa places more of an emphasis on the red and white touches. Be playful with the laying out of your props, don’t be scared of negative space, remember your flatlay is a reflection of your style and feed, so you can make it minimal, colourful, or go for the ‘more-is-more’ approach, best thing to do is play around by placing all items in, moving them around and taking them out, until you are happy with the result.
An extra tip for food styling that Chio shared was adding texture, with the waffles it was a simple as adding the fig, blueberries, nuts, and pomegrante seeds, as they add depth as well as colour to the shot.
Find The Light
Good light is a key ingredient for all photography, but a flatlay really needs the good stuff, you know what I’m talking about that pesky natural light we are sometimes lacking in the UK!!! OK, over the winter a photography lamp is needed, but during spring and summer I really do try and create my flatlays by the window. But what I would say is find out where in your house is the best, I strangely enough love my bathroom for the light as it isn’t too bright and is light generally all day. I know I’m saying chase the light, but too much like full-on sun blaring in can wash out the image or create crazy shadows – the best conditions for me is when the sun is setting slightly.
With Instastories taking over a little on Instagram, don’t forget to look at all the angles, now an image set-up is much more than just a flatlay, and Chio really pushed me to look at the image from a different perspective, whether that was from a birdseye view from above, best captured stood on a chair, or from the front using the tripod helped by using two backboards.
Chio also showed off the idea of trying portrait imagery on my social feed, not just for Instastories, stating that vertical images have a wow factor when scrolling. Anyone else scared to get rid of the square? I’ve become so used to it. I know I use portrait shots on my blog but I’ve go so used to the square, but I’m thinking it is a good way to mix up the creativity, if only it looks as good on the all important ‘grid’.
For Flatlay Inspiration
Need some more flatlay inspiration, from the gals that are really killing it, then you have to check out some of my favourite bloggers, Adorngirl, Bang on Style and Fashion For Lunch, seriously have you seen Kirsty’s colourful flatlays on her Instagram – flatlay goals.
Then there are Instagram masters, Chio is a must her feed is gorgeous and the way she presents food is so much more than a flatlay, then there is Olivia Eleazar, her styling is so beautiful and moody, then there’s Wish Wish Wish, who does the best foodie flatlays, and I just adore Walids curated organised chaos, he makes it so pretty.
Also, don’t forget to check out Pinterest, whether you want tips or flatlays to inspire future shoots this is the place to get lots of inspiration, plus don’t forget to follow my boards!!!
How’s your flatlay game?