8 Quick tips for Getting Started with flat lay photography

8 Quick tips for Getting Started with flat lay photography


Quick Tip #1 - Mood Boards

Some photographs may seem effortless, but the planning that goes into creating content is why professional content creators are sought after. 

Before starting, make sure you have an idea of what kind of photo you want to take. What story do you want to tell? A colour palette or specific preset or aesthetic to stick to? Have you sourced other images as inspiration for your own creation?  

We suggest visiting Pinterest and having a look around for some inspiration. Create a few boards or two. If this sounds time-consuming, follow us on Pinterest and check out our Boards for inspiration. There is a wealth of visual inspiration out there, so start there!


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Quick Tip #2 - The Tools

Don't get caught up in having the most expensive equipment out there.  The reason why our backgrounds are so popular, is because amateurs can use them to take professional looking photos. 

If you have a decent phone camera then stick with it and get to know how to use it better. If you are using a DSLR, then make sure you understand how your tools work! Can you blur the backgrounds using your phone or camera settings? Have you explored their functions thoroughly?

There are plenty of awesome free webinars out there to help you master your skills using the tools you already have. Do some research online and find a tutorial or webinar to find out exactly how to use your camera. 

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Quick Tip #3 - The Styling Backgrounds

Ah - our favourite topic :)

If the background of your image takes up 80% of the visual, then you should be using one of our gorgeous styling backgrounds!

We get asked all the time for advice on which backgrounds to choose, which sizes and which textures. Banners vs. Boards (we did a whole blog post on this cracker jack), texture vs. Marble and so forth.

First decide on the Size - we've reorganised our website especially for you to be able to shop according to the size of the background you need. 

We no longer offer all styles in all sizes because inventory control was becoming tedious, and we've learnt which designs are best for the different sizes. This way, we've narrowed down your choices.

Size guides - our board sizes and banner sizes are EVERYWHERE on the website. The dropdown for each product shows the sizes. We have links to our board infographic too.

Please, get a measuring tape and measure the size out at home. Is it big enough for your products? Do you need to leave space for editorial copy?

  • Compact Board 600mm x 450mm
  • Medium Board 600mm x 600mm
  • Large Board 900mm x 650mm
  • Banner 1000mm x 800mm

Then decide on the design - Tiled, textured, marbled, wooden and so forth.

To help you decide. Start at step 1 - what mood boards did you come up with? Do you need a subtle texture for a rustic feel? Check out our Texture Collection. 

Need a specific colour? Use the Tag dropdown on the Collection page and sort by colour.

Are you shooting beauty products? Check out our Marbles for added luxury.

We know there are lots of choices and they can be overwhelming! We're happy to help if you get stuck. Contact us.


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Quick Tip # 4 - Great Props

Quality props make for quality images.

Styling props are the items you use to help tell your visual story. 

We always suggest using something alive/ living in each image as it helps bring images to life. Something kinetic that suggests movement. For example - your hand in the shot, plants or flowers, photographs (think polaroids), food, a sprinkling of flour off of the plate, a smudge of garden soil from the garden glove.

Your crockery, cutlery, baking pans all props should be visually appealing! Quality items that you have around the house that you can lend to the shot, or items like the ones we sell in our Tableware Props Collection, specially curated for food stylists and lifestyle bloggers. 


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Quick Tip #5 - Great Lighting

Ah, the hardest one to master, but the most important. We will be dedicating a whole future blog post in 2021 to this to cover all the basics in detail, but we will summarise here, and we write mainly for the amateurs out there who are beginners. We will only talk about natural light sources (i.e. the sun) here and not artificial light sources.

There is nothing worse than a dark and dingy photograph taken in bad light. It does your product no justice, it's bad for your brand!

Simple guidelines

  • Dark hard shadows are not your friend. You need plenty of natural light. Move around the house to find a south-eastern window or doorway. Stay indoors, don't shoot outside. No direct sunlight unless you're wanting hard shadows.
  • Try different times of the day, as the sun changes light the whole day. We prefer mornings between 8 - 12 when the sun is not as high in the sky.
  • Soft shadows are not terrible things, just make sure that the light source is on your left hand side, so the shadow falls on the right of the product in the image. It makes for more visually appealing photos.
  • Use your camera or phone to lighten your image before shooting
  • If the shadows are too harsh, hang a bedsheet up in front of the window or doorway to help diffuse the light and soften the shadows.
  • Use white boards to help block unwanted shadows and to deflect more light onto your subject.

You'll need to experiment a lot to see what works for you, so keep at it!


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Quick Tip #6 - The Editing

Do not think for one second that those amazing photographs you see out there on Instagram are untouched and unedited!

You absolutely have to learn to edit your photos - to make them the best possible version of the original. This means, cropping them, straightening them, rotating if need be. And lightening, or darkening, or adding contrast to make them more crisp.

We use our Lightroom app to enhance our pictures, and to crop them so that it shows off the subject of the photo best!  We find it intuitive and we love that after we've fiddled around with lighting and blurring and brightening, we can save our fave preset so that it's ready to use again on the next photo.

Editing doesn't need to take you long - we'd rather spend time on setting up in good lighting in the first place with quality props and great backgrounds, than spending hours trying to fix bad lighting in the editing app. 


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Quick Tip #7 - The Best Apps to help you along

It's no secret that we use an iPhone XS Max for our content. Instagram is built for Mobile devices, and we run our business from Instagram, therefore, running our business from our Mobile phone. 

Everything we do, is easier if it's already on the phone. Especially when the kids were climbing all over us during school's lockdown.

Some apps we recommend to help streamline your life:

  1. Lightroom App - As mentioned above, an absolute MUST to edit all of our photos. There's a Free version.
  2. Preview App - This app helps you visually plan your Instagram feed so that you can plan your posts to ensure they are visually appealing. It also has a few presets and editing tools within the app so you can fiddle around with your photos there too. There's a free version.
  3. Later App - this app helps you schedule your Instagram posts. Paid paid only.
  4. PicCollage App - Helps you create collages in different sizes. Great for resizing to your Stories size or a Post size.
  5. Photosplit - This app allows you to split one photo into a grid. You can then upload to Preview and see what it will look like on your feed.


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Quick Tip #8 - Have patience
Honestly, the more you practice, the easier it becomes. You have to have patience and try and try again. You can only get better!
We hope this has helped!
We'd love to hear from you, cheer you on, offer you some advice, hear your success stories, please drop us an email or whatsapp (+27729855425) and tag us in your photographs on Instagram so that we can repost your beautiful images and help spread the news about your business.