If a blogger eats breakfast and doesn’t post a flat lay photograph of it, did it even happen? Jokes aside, flat lay photography has become huge on Instagram and Pinterest, with perfectly placed arrangements of coffee cups, journals, books and flowers attracting thousands of double taps.
Lifestyle and fashion expert Fatima Hilal captures a bird’s eye view of her world through an iPhone lens. "I started filming flat lays approximately two years ago after working as a fashion photographer. I wanted to take my viewers on a beautiful journey and directly into my story where they feel a sense of calmness and connect to the items in the photo,” she explains.
Here are some of Fatima Hilal’s top tips to mastering the art of the flat lay:
1. What is the story you want to tell
This is step one. Random objects won’t make sense, so you need to come up with a theme, or situation that you want to convey to the viewer. Fatima says, “Personally, I find the addition of flowers to my set up helps add an element of tenderness and beauty."
2. Lighting is everything
“By choosing the right times of the day to take your photo and the right location, you’re half way set to capturing an amazing shot. My advice is to shoot during the early morning time or afternoon when the sun is low in the sky because you avoid getting shadows in the shot. Also, make sure to arrange your items next to a large window or a glass balcony for the best location,” she says. Lighting is the most important element for capturing the perfect shot, so stay clear of artificial lighting.
3. Simple surfaces
Having a simple background will make sure that items stand out in the image. Use a white polystyrene or wood panel as the flat surface for your picture. Darker backgrounds can work, but only if the objects in your flat lay are very bright.
4. Maintain the centre of the image
It’s easiest to take an image from the top corner. The main object in your picture should be in the centre. Make sure to hold your hand steady, and keep your phone completely flat with the scene you are shooting.
5. Use ‘Burst’ mode to get the perfect picture
An easy way to have multiple pictures to choose from is using the ‘Burst’ mode on your iPhone by holding the shutter button down.
6. Use Apps to add the final touches
"Sometimes I use apps to add the final touches to my photos. I'm often satisfied with what I've taken and only do minor adjustments. For those times, I use the Light Room app available at the App Store to give all my photos a uniform lighting and colour or VSCO to add creative touches to the images. I also use the Video Show app to edit some of the images and place them in the right frame I want them to appear in throughout the video. It helps me control the way I’m telling the story and the flow before sharing it on my Instagram platform,” explains Fatima.