Those familiar with Instagram know the popular "bird's eye view" shot, which is often used to show a tableau of attractive objects. They might be new shoes, delectable pastries, or colorful flowers, but the visual style is known as flat lay photography. Below, we've outlined how to create your own flat lay arrangement with the best props, lighting, and camera equipment.
Flat lay photography doesn't need to be flashy, so long as you choose objects that go well together and share a common theme. For example, you might select items based on their color, shape, texture, or brand. A food-themed shot might incorporate a variety of creative cupcakes, while a jewelry shot might focus on leather accents. As a general rule, try to choose objects that are similar in height, so that your camera can stay focused on the entire arrangement.
Setting Up Your Camera
If you have a prosumer camera, such as a DSLR, the best way to take flat lay photos is to mount the camera to a boom tripod. This will allow you to find the ideal height, while also minimizing camera shake as you work. With this setup, you can stand on a small ladder or stool and use the camera's viewscreen.
Lighting the Shot
Finally, a great flat lay makes the most of natural light sources, while also using a few lighting tricks for improved results. We recommend setting your objects near a north or east-facing window with unobstructed sunlight. This type of light is generally better than what you'll see from a south or west window, because it's less harsh and produces fewer shadows. If you still have shadows obscuring the shot, however, you can place foam core boards near the affected objects. Meanwhile, overly shiny objects can be tamed with a diffuser, which you can buy from a camera shop or make yourself. Just take an old picture frame or embroidery hoop, and stretch some white fabric across it.
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