The art of flat lay photos

Yesterday I gave my students an assignment: take a photo of your school bag and its content, flat lay style.

They did a much better job than I did, to be honest…This is my own image:


I wanted to show off my notebook, I love this notebook!

I can’t show theirs, but the exercise itself was a lot of fun! Tip: use your phone, and have it showing a nice photo that matches the background. Very cool looking.

I do flat lays for Instagram for my other project, The Creative Kelpie, and I am getting better, but compared to the best I have a LOT to learn. But then again: compared to the best I ALWAYS have a lot to learn…That’s part of the fun!

Let me share a few tips I’ve picked up this far:

  • I almost exclusively use my phone for Instagram flat lays. I edit in Snapseed and A Color Story. As I only show on Instagram or my blog, I really don’t need my big camera.
  • Start with finding the light. Near a window or outside on a cloudy day is perfect. I think even light looks the best, with few shadows.
  • Now for the background. It should be simple, and contrast against the items to really put the items in focus. I like geometrical patterns or a nice texture, but it can’t be too much. I use tables, floors, grass, asphalt, blankets, fabric.
  • Place the items thoughtfully. I like it messy, but messy with afterthought if you get what I mean..Look up classic rules of composition, like the rule of thirds, leading lines, framing, etc. They all work well. And play with negative space!
  • Keep to one colour scheme, that makes it easier to avoid it looking messy even if there are multiple items.

I like this one, with its mix of geometrical patterns and muted colours.


As I prepared for my students, I even made a film. It’s very amateur (I’m NOT a filmmaker!), and in Swedish, but maybe you can get a few tips!

If you are interested…Search for “flat lay photography” on Youtube. There are TONS of creative people out there! I will keep learning and keep working on my flat lays – and hopefully get better and better!

(And if you have any feedback for me, don’t hesitate to share! A have no problem with critique!)

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