Behind Every Flat Lay Is Lots of Mess And Backache

Most popular photos you see when scrolling through many visual feeds these days are flat lay shots (top down photos). Have you ever thought of the process behind how to take a nice creative flat lay? What you see is really just the pretty side of things, what's real is the mess and things one do for a nice flat lay photo. These are usually not shown publicly and the ordinary everyday people probably can't imagine.

I am no expert in flat lay photos because I just don't have enough opportunities and time to shoot proper YET! Things will change soon as I am beginning to explore more of this new way of photography with my team. With my limited experiences and lots of research online, I shared some pointers with a group of friends over at Canon Imaging Academy. It was a fun afternoon and I'm happy many of them picked up useful tips and were able to apply them into their own creative visual feed.

Before the sharing session I did some trials at home on my own and after an hour of back stretching, knee bending and neck aching actions while styling putting random things to fill up the white mahjong paper on the floor, I only managed to get 2 to 3 decent shots that can be used for posting online! OMG!!! Why is this so difficult??

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]How to take flat lay photos at home by The Loving Mum This was what went on behind the scene... see the mess outside of the white paper and my feet!!! LOL![/caption]

Flat Lay Quick Tips

Use basic background, or something simple so that it doesn't clutter your entire photo.

Go with natural light, lots of it. Else prepare a few lamps to shine on the area you want to shoot.

Fill in gaps, but leave enough space between every object.

Keep the frame (Square or not) full, take note of corners and sides if you want to have a fuller looking

Think about the hero piece, which is the main object in your flat lay?

Play with different size props, and you need to start building a box of props! Flat lay is all about PROPS!

Pick things that look good from top, example a cup of black coffee vs a cup of latte, or a closed black notebook vs an open notebook filled with writing.

Enhance your photos after you got it right - cos lighting control in the actual shoot can be quite a challenge.

Ideally is to shoot in RAW format and post process after.

Use a tripod so you can ensure your photo is always sharp and clear, and it'll help relieve those back and neck stretching actions too.

Epic lunch the other day with new friends. #TLMeats #flatlay A photo posted by Claudia Lim (@claudia10) on

Taking flat lay photos at restaurants and cafe is even more challenging and at times one need to have very thick skin in order to get a decent shot! I have personally not tried doing any styling when dining out but once I was at a media tasting together with two young foodie, I was impressed at their determination and effort. Kudos to Wei Kai and Zong Han I managed to get some nice flat lay photos that day.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]How to take flat lay photos at home by The Loving Mum The things we do for a nice top down shot at a cafe...[/caption]

Equip with the right gear

A nice photo is a combination of nice objects, nice styling, good lighting and a good set of equipment. Personally I love shooting with my Canon PowerShot and DSLR, but for a flay lay where you want everything in the frame to be in focus, sometimes a very good camera on the mobile phone may just be what you need. Unless you are planning to print the photo out for display, then you will require a decent camera.

If you are looking for a camera for flat lay photo taking, then ensure that the camera has got a screen that can be tilted at least 180-degree so that you can view what's in the frame while holding your camera up high. Alternatively find one camera that allows for wireless connection to a mobile phone for remote shooting. This way, you can mount your camera on a tripod, placed on the table and still be able to view what's in frame and activate the shutter from the mobile phone.

Get a steady tripod that allow you to use with a tripod arm. This is on my to purchase list.

Hope the above tips are useful! Check out what my fellow friends who attended the session have shared: