How to take the perfect flatlay picture for Instagram

How to take a flatlay photo for Instagram

Selfies, bumfies, OOTDs - we've all done 'em (don't lie, I know you have!) but oh, are they a thing of the past. Now, in case you haven't already noticed, recently the entire internet has gone a little crazy for photos taken from above - also known as the flatlay. Why? Well - besides the fact that they look great - they're also insanely easy to do yourself. Keep on scrolling to find out more!

Things to consider

Composition is key when it comes to creating a great flatlay, and the only way to perfect it is to keep on trying. Once you get your own flatlay style down to a tee you'll know how to do it next time around, but a great place to start is right at the centre of the image! Figure out what the main focus of your photo is going to be and centre it in the image. Add a few props, move things around a little, make use of blank space and voila! You've created the perfect from-above photo.

How to use lighting

Natural lighting is always, always better than artificial, as I find it gives a really soft, aesthetically pleasing look to any photo. The best time to take a flatlay is when the sun is fairly high in the sky, as it means you won't have to deal with any harsh shadows on your photo. It also means that - if your general environment is lighter - you'll be able to use better settings on your camera, so it'll keep the quality as high as possible.

But with all that being said, sometimes the weather really just doesn't want to cooperate - especially in the winter months. As always, try to aim for using natural light over anything else, but if you really have to use some form of soft box or artificial light, stay away from pointing the light directly at what you're shooting, as this can make it look obvious and unnatural. Still not light enough? Open up the aperture on your camera a little to allow more light in. If all else fails, up the ISO up ever so slightly! Not sure what I'm on about? Head on over to a blog post where Ollie talks about how to take better blog photos.

How to edit your picture

Of course Photoshop and Lightroom are awesome programmes if you want to edit your pictures, but if you're on the go it's so much easier to just open up your phone and do it all from there. I personally love Instagram's in app editing feature, but I've also created a post all about the best photo editing apps if you fancied checking it out!

When it comes to actually editing a picture, I personally think that less is more. Forget all of those OTT filters and instead focusing on just improving the looks of your picture as opposed to completely altering it. I only tend to adjust the highlights (to brighten) and the contrast (to add well, contrast), but sometimes I'll very slightly lower the saturation (never up it) or sharpen the image if needs be.

Props to use 

OnUsing props can turn a boring flatlay into something completely Instagram-worthy, but it's important to use the right type of props fir what you're shooting (do I sound mildly insane yet?). A few fail-safe props to use are flowers, candles, cacti and coffee cups. They're cheap, re-usable and they're perfect if you want to fill up a bit of unused space.

What not to do

One important thing to remember is to not overthink the composition of a flatlay. Just like the editing side of things, less is more when it comes down to styling up your snaps. If you feel like your flatlay is too crowded, then take something away! A flatlay is meant to be minimalistic, not more more more.

Top tips to remember

I'm pretty sure it's impossible to take a perfect photo first time around, so be prepared to take around four hundred million snaps to get the one you want.  You're probably thinking 'how difficult can it be to take a photo of something from above?' but it's not as easy as it sounds! At the end of the day, practise makes perfect, so keep on practising!

It's also good to take into consideration the fact that - generally speaking - flatlays look better in square format. This is easy enough if you're snapping straight from your phone, but if you're taking a picture on a camera be sure to style up your image so that you don't end up cropping out all the pretty bits!

Want to know more about various photography trends from the past few years? be sure to check out the Expedia Timeline of Trends, and let me know your favourite trending photo in the comments down below!

[This post is in collaboration with Expedia, but all thoughts and tips belong to yours truly!]