There has been a trend in product photography with 8.9 million Instagram photos using the hashtag #flatlay (early 2021). E-commerce companies often use this method to present their fashion and beauty-related products. We’ve developed this flat lay photography guide to help you learn more about product preparation, the photo session, and post-production.
Learn how to take flattering flat lay photos and how to light the product correctly, set the camera, and retouch effectively.
Photography from above is the key to flat lay photography. Spreading or arranging the product on a flat surface is necessary.
It will be determined by the desired effect which background to use. Are you looking for informativeness, or for the wow-effect? In addition, it allows you to categorize your shot as a packshot or still life.
A still life or a packshot?
What’s the best way to photograph flat lay clothes?
A key aspect of flat lay amazon photography is the background. Details can be revealed without drawing attention away from the product. The background should be uniformly colored, usually white or grey. If your product is presented alone, your shot qualifies as a packshot. In contrast, in still life pictures, the items often extend beyond the frame, and the viewer sees only a portion of the artistic vision.
To give the most comprehensive and careful information about the product, a packshot will always have a central composition with the full item in view and a good, natural contrast level. In this case, white paper or a backlit backdrop will be most relevant.
If you want to make the most of the interaction between product and background, or if you want to include flat lay props, you will be more concerned with still life photography.
The extent to which you apply the entire system to your flatlay sessions will depend on the equipment you have at your disposal. See how packshots and still life photography differ in our complete guide to product photography.
How do I photograph a flat lay?
What are some tips for taking good flat lays?
- A table dedicated to flat lay photography.
The camera can be mounted on a special mount above a backlit table using devices dedicated to flat lay photography. Additional lighting is provided and adjustable in intensity and range.
Using a software suite streamlines the session and keeps all the steps of the photo workflow in one location.
- A flat surface and a tripod for the camera.
The tripod’s design will limit the operator in this case.
It is sometimes necessary to arrange products on the floor to ensure the right distance between the lens and the item due to tripod height limitations.
- Shooting from above manually.
The use of a ladder and a handheld camera may be an easy solution to flat lay. You will be able to shoot products from the ground or from a table. You can arrange the lighting freely around the scene, and the whole setup feels like a traditional photo studio.
As the operator changes positions slightly with each new approach, this method is not repeatable. Additionally, hand-held cameras have limited shutter and ISO speeds, which binds you to a narrower range of camera settings. When holding your camera, you should use a shutter speed of twice your focal length, e.g. 50 mm -> 1/100 s. In addition, you should maintain an aperture of at least f/8 to guarantee a relevant depth of field. If the lighting remains the same, the picture may end up being too dark or poorly focused.
- Manually operated mobile phones.
It is especially popular with Instagram users and those using auction apps. On Vinted or eBay you will find many photos taken with a manual phone camera.
Each hand movement changes the field of view, and the automatic exposure interprets the light differently at different angles, so it is difficult to maintain consistency in brightness and color.
Due to its instability, you may need to use a tripod for traditional studio photography or a dedicated flat lay photography table. With automation solutions, you can enjoy time-saving workflows, consistent results, and high-quality photos.
Let’s talk about clothing – preparation
Photographing flat lay apparel is similar to photographing other products. The biggest differences come during the preparation stage and the lightning process.
Your clothing should represent reality as closely as possible when shooting packshots. During preparation, you will need to iron the piece of clothing and stretch it carefully on the photographed surface – any creases will be unprofessional and unattractive. Use a special tape roll before a session to remove lint.
Using flat lay photos to present your clothes is a great, simple idea. Your multiple shots cover the entire piece in all its dimensions and give the customer a general idea of its color, shape, and functionality.
This combination provides buyers with more information, especially about size and proportion, which results in a higher level of buying confidence.
You might gradually transition from cheap flatlays to expensive model photography in your e-commerce business. You’ll always have studios and photographic equipment as good partners. The question of whether to automate will surely arise as time and money costs grow.
You will be able to take advantage of modern photographic conveniences such as streamlined workflows or automatic cutting of the background once you have knowledge and experience in product preparation, light, and the photo session itself.
This manual serves as a starting point or a summary of what you’ve already learned. Keep practicing, and feel free to ask us questions about flat lay and automation solutions.