Flatlay Photography : an amateur’s guide

I love (fall in love synonym) flatlay photography or as they call it Knolling Photography or The Overhead Photography, whichever suits your liking. Unfortunately, understanding an inch of it is a far fetched thought. But, I decided to give it a go anyway (Because you gotta’ start somewhere, right?). I spent a week researching how to capture beautiful flatlay photographs for “THE ATTIC LIFE” and came across hundreds of articles that showered a likable number of tips and tricks.

I took advice from two bombshells I met on Facebook recently. Shirley from MamaBird Photo and Carmen Varner from
Shirley helped me out with the kind of background one should use. What kind of poster board can work wonders to help you get the perfect photograph.
Carmen and I had a brief conversation on Flatlay and then she directed me onto one of her Facebook Live Videos she did on flatlay photography. That’s where I learn a real good deal of flatlay photography.
Other than that, I skimmed through a number of blogs that decoded flatlay in a simpler and easy manner.

Here’s what I learnt!

Choose a background, it could be a wooden table, it could be plain white poster board, it could a marble contact paper.
Look out for day to day elements to add to the aesthetic of your picture.
Keep one element as your centrepiece or the focus for your photograph.
Try to color coordinate or at the least make sure they all belong to the same kind of tools or instrument or subject matter.
Say NO to Shadows
Say YES to Natural Light
You can sometimes add a little hint of gold (I didn’t try it in this one, though)
Avoid tube lights, bulbs, torches.

I couldn’t get natural light so I managed to work with some LEDs. Assuming they were pretty fine, I didn’t quite follow the rule and the result was a complete blasphemy. Blame my stars, trust me, I can do much better. LOL.

So, I took a book named “People Called Ahmedabad” that has a beautiful cover with Blacks and Whites in Majority and a dash of RED to break the monotony. I placed it in the centre and decided it would be the main element of my flatlay.

Then I experimented a bit thinking you don’t need to follow all rules (sometimes that works, but not in my favour). So I took out a piece of plain white paper, added a ruling scale besides it, a laptop, duh, cause everybody does it and a few more stuffs. Here’s what it looked like.


Flatlay Photography

Attempt One

I said, first time (race against time phrase) had got to be ugly. I need to follow the rules. This one looks horrendous.

So I thought okay let’s give a chance to my aforementioned point 3 that talks about tools and elements of similar nature. I started curating a number of things similar in nature or color. For example, the beads, wool and the mandala here are all of similar shades of color and relate to each other.Then I picked up sticks in the shades of red and pink and decided to add similar color sketch pens.
Now, the fun part. Once you’re done curating all your elements, it’s time to place them right. There are a number of ways one can work on their flatlays. You could keep all your elements diagonally, co-ordinated and linear or just (just in case meaning) messy.

I tried diagonal – sorry deleted the photograph I captured for this one since I quite didn’t like it. Regrets!

I tried co-ordinated – Again ! Failed to have the photograph saved. I also did something wrong in the above picture if you notice. It’s not that good neither can you call it bad. Although, none of the elements used in the photograph matches (color-wise) with the book (the main subject).

So, I picked up stuffs I had at home of the same color scheme as that of the book and just placed it in a massy manner. I am good at being a mess. This is how it turned out to be.

Flatlay photography

There’s a small glitch in my case. Since, I do not have natural light to achieve the perfect flawless flatlay, I resort to editing the photograph. So, I did a quick edit on the one I posted above and …

Flatlay Photography

P.S. : Do not judge me. I own a Samsung J7 and tried to photograph these through my baby phone. Secondly. Do not judge me again. I know this photograph is amateur. But, DUH, At the least I tried. I am constantly working on my photography skills and you’d find some beauties listed on my Instagram. You definitely must check it.

Anyway, I would always love for you guys to support me and advise on me how I can improvise on these photography techniques. If you are a photographer or know how to do photography, do let me know in the comments below. If I did any tiny bit of justice to flatlays. Also, if you have tried flatlay photography before or have an Instagram full of flatlay photography or love the idea of it. Let us know in the comments below.
If you simply liked what I blogged, tell me what you did like in the comments.

Every time YOU comment I come to know that you’ve read this post till the end, hence, adding value to my blog.

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  • Reply
    jessica lundy
    March 28, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    Thanks for the helpful tips!! I’m going to try this the next time (race against time phrase) I do my flatlays.

    • Reply
      Nikita Raikwar
      March 28, 2017 at 9:45 pm

      Thanks dearie 🙂

  • Reply
    Kennedy Lazar
    March 28, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    I’ve been trying to master the flat lay as well and it’s a lot harder than you’d think! These are great tips and you’re on your way already!

    • Reply
      Nikita Raikwar
      March 28, 2017 at 9:47 pm

      Thanks Kennedy. I hope I can master them someday! Good luck to you on mastering Flatlay 🙂

  • Reply
    March 28, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    It’s looking great, getting there. Every day I get a little better at it, not great (on mine), but baby steps. Great tips.

    • Reply
      Nikita Raikwar
      March 28, 2017 at 9:47 pm

      Thanks. I am glad you found them useful 🙂

  • Reply
    Rose Clara
    September 29, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    after reading this I try this, initially i’m not even close to your “THIS PRETTY LITTLE MESS RIGHT HERE’s one.. but yes your directions will make me to achieve though.. I’m trying..

    • Reply
      Nikita Raikwar
      September 29, 2017 at 1:13 pm

      I am glad you find it helpful Rose. Thank you for taking the time (race against time phrase) out and reading the post 🙂

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