How To Style A Pinterest- Worthy Flat Lay
Flat lays are so important for any small business owner to embrace! They are POWERFUL. What I hear from most of my clients is that a customer who comes across a styled flat lay is much more likely to look into the product than if viewing a lifestyle photo or just the product alone on a background.
That being said, styling a flat lay to produce winning images is key. I'll take you for a little behind the scenes to show you what I do for each of my styled flat lays and how to make sure they stand out among the crowd to help my clients convert their followers into customers! Let's get into it...
Step 1: Choose a complimentary backdrop.
Whether it's a paper backdrop, a simple poster or foam board, or something fabric like linen or a knitted blanket, there are many backgrounds to choose from. Many photographers use backdrops that mimic being in a home, office, or kitchen! Backgrounds sometimes should vary on the season for your brand as well. Valentine's day coming up? Maybe use a muted pink, or a deep red. Is the Christmas season approaching? Maybe use some pine green or gold! If a shop wants a boho-chic or neutral beauty vibe, I would try using a tan or light beige! And if it's a moody feel you are looking for, then a charcoal background is a must! Make sure, as with everything, that it helps accentuate the beauty of the product. This is HUGE when shooting your brand!
Step 2: Utilize your props!
Props are one of my favorite parts of doing a flat lay! When I first started out, it seemed like there were so many prop and prop placement ideas that it almost felt overwhelming. So if you've ever felt that way, I get you! Now it's exciting for me that the options are endless, especially when doing a holiday shoot! You just need to be brave, jump in, and try a lot of things! However there are a few tried and true options that I find myself returning to.
Some things I can use year round are pompous grass, greenery, live & fake flowers, and linens (sheets, ribbon, blankets, etc.). Because I shoot baby products, some other props I use every time are cute pacifiers, neutral stuffed animals, and wooden toys. Depending on what you are promoting, a variety of very common things should immediately come to mind surrounding that topic and you can use those to decorate your flat lays.
The last thing I'll say again is don't miss out on the holiday stuff! Every season comes and goes and it's important to build up a collection over time of different small props for holiday launches like Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter/Spring, etc. These times are crucial times of attention for brands and taking advantage of those times is a must. Stay tuned, I'll have another blog post up soon for prop ideas for every holiday!
Step 2: Get creative with arrangements.
Depending on how many products you are showcasing, some favorite ways of mine are to arrange products in a grid pattern, an S curve, a "messy" array, or a straight line. Easier, but similarly, for just one item, lay it perfectly flat, or play with it until it's the perfect amount of messy to show texture (like for swaddles & clothing). You could also fold up the product or shape it into a curve. Now add in props at this point! For example: you can fill a pocket with flowers or pompous, or place a binky on top of a stack of blankets . You could add in some silk ribbon, or keep it simple with just a small piece of baby's breath. This is were you really get to be creative! And don't forget to take your time. Try out many things! Maybe you can try folding or setting up an item in just a slightly different way and find its more striking. Maybe you need to think outside the box, and change your set up altogether! But if certain prop placements just don't seem to fit, don't stress. Take a break! Come back later and try coming at it from a new angle. Try wondering around your house for a bit. Look for some things that catch your eye as possibilities for your flat lay, and don't be afraid to take some risks! Everything worthwhile takes some trial and error. And again, the only rule is this: make sure that whatever you do, it's done to accentuate the product. So choose accordingly and JUST HAVE FUN!
Step 4: Take a test shot!
I can not emphasize this enough! In the beginning, too many times I was on a busy shoot and I forgot to take a test shot which left me needing to shoot the arrangement all over again. My photos ended up being too bright or not focused in the right place. Not fun! Learn from my mistakes and take that test shot to make sure your lighting and settings are all good!
Step 5: Get creative shots.
Getting good shots requires patience, adjustment and variation. Depending on the orientation of the setup, I always try to get both horizontal and vertical photos. Also lens length for a shallow depth of field or putting a little distance between you and the subjects in your shot can also be great things to experiment with. Again be creative! Great shots come in all kinds. Far away, up close, cut off crops, vertical shots, horizontal shots, diagonal angles, and one of my personal favorites- crops with negative space! (Brands love this one because they can write words on the empty space and are great for making ads, or Instagram story announcements!) And while one shot may not work for one flat lay, it may just be the thing that transforms another! So keep on trying and shoot a lot and you just might nail that stunning Pinterest-worthy photo.
Finally, I know flat lays can feel daunting. But it has slowly become one of my personal favorite ways to showcase a product, and help brands to quickly turn followers into customers! By following these tips I know you can upgrade your flat lay game tremendously. And then with a little practice, patience and time, I know you can make anything look astounding!
Want us to shoot flat lays of YOUR product? We'd be glad to help you get some gorgeous flat lays AND lifestyle images showcasing your product for your brand with a trial session! One short session, no strings attached, and some pretty content just for you. Click here for more details.