A beginner’s guide to flat lay photography to make your social media content POP right off the page
Social media content can be challenging at times, even the best of us can run out of ideas. This beginners guide to flat lay photography will help you create social media content which is different and uniquely you. And best of all, all you need is a window, an iPhone and your imagination.
Step one: Find the light
Light is the most important component in social media photography as it allows your products to stand out. Consistent, natural lighting is vital to keep your social media content consistent. The easiest way to get great natural light is from a window with a sheer curtain. Don’t have a sheer curtain? Any sheer sheet or a tablecloth will work. Tie it to the curtain railing or use the window frame to prop it up. It doesn’t have to be perfect and no one will see it. The sheet will diffuse light coming in from the window and will give you beautiful even lighting in the room.
Step two: Choose your social media content Story
Every great photo tells a story. Just like the captions on your social media post, your social media photos must speak to the audience and explain your story. Choose a hero piece and create your story around it, for example. a pair of shoes, a product or a food item. Next, what story do you want to tell? Do you want to show action? Are you highlighting its colours? Can you show how it simulates the natural environment? Whatever your story, define it first and understand what you are trying to say before you say it.
Gather items that match your story. For instance, if you have an organic beauty product, you may want to highlight its natural ingredients so you might gather a stem of lavender, aloe vera or eucalyptus leaves. Natural wooden products, stones, grasses and anything you can find from the natural environment will work well here. Be careful to choose items that compliment your colour scheme, your other social media content, your brand and your brands story.
Step three – Find a background
Backgrounds can literally be anything. Rugs, scarves, coloured sheets of paper, I’ve been known to use them all! The only limit is your imagination and your vision that you want to achieve in your social media content. Grab a few items that you could use as a background with different colours, textures and patterns (subtle patterns work best). Remember to keep your brand colours consistent!
Step three – Experiment with angles
This is the fun bit. Arrange your background on the floor or on a small wide table. You are going to be taking your photo from above so if you want to avoid standing on wobbly chairs to get above your flat lay. Lay your background on the floor, near the window. Experiment with which way you want the light to hit your background and your props.
I like placing the window on the left hand side of my flat lays. As I am right handed, I’m less likely to block the light with my camera if it’s on the left. If you like more even light, use white cardboard or paper on the opposite side to the window. It will reflect light back on your flatlay. You don’t need anything fancy, I always have white sheets of cardboards handy for this reason.
Next, place the items on your background. There is no science to this, it’s simply a matter of experiment. Choose different angles, choose opposing angles. Place larger items first (but be careful they do not to take away from hero piece), then place smaller items around, in between and on top of them. Play around, make adjustments and go where your creativity takes you.
Finally, to really make your flat lays stand out, it’s all about the small details. Scatter leaves, use pencil shavings, glitter, gum nuts, powder, water droplets etc , there is no need to perfectly place these, a little scatter here and there can really give a flat lay that effortless, “I woke up like this” look.
Step Four – Click
A tripod is great if you have one, but you can still get a great flat lay for social media if you stand directly above your flat lay. Hold your phone at different angles and bring items to attention by bringing your phone closer to the product (don’t use the zoom). Flat lays don’t have to be perfect; the edges of some items and the side of a plant is fine. Try and experiment with different items in the frame until you get the look you are after.
Step Five – Cut
Filters are great but you can over do them. Keep it simple and to keep it on brand, keep it consistent. You don’t want to clog up your feed with lots of photos using lots of different filters, choose one that suits your brand and stick to it.
Step Six – Post
The words you post with your flat lay are important too, so write a compelling caption that will capture your audience’s attention. Keep it simple and to the point and revisit the story you chose in step two to ensure your point comes across in your social media content.
And that’s it! Simple social media photography for your business that you won’t find anywhere else. Experiment with all sorts of stories and ideas and you’ll get your business some great social media content in no time.
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