Hi friends! Today, we’re going to talk about how to stage a flatlay. This was meant to be part of my Sewing Blog 101 series earlier this year, and somehow I never published it. No worried, though. It’s perfect for this month’s #SewMyStyle2018 prompt, lingerie! One thing I’ve heard repeatedly from you all is that many are nervous about sharing photos of your completed lingerie makes. It’s something I totally get, and even addressed in my post on Simplicity 8711 last month.
So what is a flatlay? Basically, it’s a photo taken from above that has a variety of items laid flat. Sometimes this is an outfit, or items related to whatever it is you post about — really basically anything you can lay flat on a surface.
Like we talked about earlier, the best Instagram photos start out with a good regular photo. Set yourself up for success with natural lighting and a good editing software or app. Once you’re prepared for a good photo shoot, it’s time to stage Instagram photos!
There are three easy ways to create a nice flatlay. One is the actual layout, the second is the background, and the third is the props you might use. The fun part of a flatlay is that you can combine all of these different elements and make a flatlay that is perfect for and unique to you!
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Stage Instagram Photos
When you’re making a flatlay photo, it’s important to be aware of the composition — how the photo is set up. The props you’re using can be arranged in a couple of different ways. You can make an aesthetically pleasing grid layout, an interesting haphazard arrangement, or leave lots of intentional blank space so that you could overlay text. This article lays out (get it???) five different ways you could arrange a flatlay!
Having a nice clean background can really take a photo to the next level. I love using the wood floors in my parents’ house for my photos, and I also loved to “borrow” my aunt’s marble countertops when I babysat in grad school.
“But Maddie,” you say, “I don’t have wood floors or marble countertops, nor do I feel like paying to install them!”, or “Okay fine, but the best light in my house comes from a window that is in front of 1970s pea green shag carpet.” Good news – you can hack the background! All you need is a poster board, and some optional contact paper. A plain poster board, whether it’s white or another color, will give you a lovely simple background. Adding adhesive contact paper, like this marble one or this wood one look realistic, but cost waaaaaaay less and are transportable!
These days, I most often use the white duvet cover on my bed. I also have white twin sized sheets that I keep for friends sleeping on my couch. If I want to do a flatlay involving shoes, I use one of those sheets — I don’t want gross outside dirt on my bed!
Minimalism can make for a lovely photo, but sometimes you need a little something extra, right? Some artfully placed props can put some sparkle into the photo — maybe literally!
If you’re sticking to sewing-related items in your photo, take a look around your sewing space. Thread and bias tape that coordinates with your color palette could be artfully draped throughout the shot. Maybe you have a pair of vintage thread snips you could pop in! A few fabric scraps can bring texture to the photo, too.
Other props I like to use are books, mugs of coffee, flowers (fresh is always nice but faux works great too!), candles, sweet treats, and desk items. I love a great orderly flatlay, but sometimes the best ones are the ones that look like you just happened to take a photo of your great workspace, which of course is never my actual workspace because I sew in an incredibly messy nook in my apartment.
So many people can style a good flatlay, so you definitely can too! They pop up semi-frequently in the sewing world (hello, vacation packing plans!), but even more often in other accounts. Three sewing accounts that frequently post lovely flatlays (handily enough) are the lingerie accounts TailorMade, OhhhLulu, and EvieLaLuve. Non-sewing accounts with great flatlay inspo include TheGraduatedBookworm for prop options and The Mrs. Box for gorgeous styling.
Now — go and flatlay! And tag me in the photos, because I love to see what you guys do! But in case you want to learn more about flatlays…
- A really quick primer on manual camera settings (which I am usually too lazy to use because then I have get photos off of it!)
- Tips for taking brighter photos and one specifically for winter
- Flatlay prop suggestions
- And more prop suggestions here!