Minimal flat lays
Images from @acupofchic

It seems like we are all taking to flat-laying these days. From rearranging our plates at the restaurant, folding and placing our specially curated OOTD (Outfit of the Day) on our beds and even arranging our kids’ toys into beautiful compositions just to get that perfect photo we can post on Instagram. Back in the day, artists would arrange a bowl of fruit or flowers in a vase to paint and call it a still life but these days we hastily arrange our cherished and loved items and then snap away to get our ‘flat lay’.

Even my 4 year old is getting in on it. The other day we went to the beach and collected seashells and she got home and placed them in rows and said “Mummy can you take an Instagram photo of my shells?” I wasn’t sure how to take it… Am I spending far too much time Instagramming and taking photos that my child wants to copy (probably!)? Then again she was being creative and making something a little special so I did take a photo of it. (Its up on our Instagram page!)

There are so many Instagrammers out there that build a career out of taking flat lays. Take Margaret Zhang from Shine By Three, her flat lays are incredible and must take her hours to do. She even has a hastag for them #zhangflat-ing. She shares her secret editing apps for getting that perfect image on her blog and names Snapseed, Lightroom and VSCO Cam as top of her list. And all her images are done on her phone so need for a fancy camera.

Margaret Zhang flat lay
Images from @margaret__zhang

Flat lays can be a powerful tool to build up your brand by showcasing the things that inspire you and represent you. It can also increase your following by simply tagging the brands that are featured in your flat lay.

So if you have ever been in doubt that you couldn’t take that perfectly lit, beautifully arranged photo we have put together a few tips on how to master the flat lay:

1. It’s all about proportion: Balance out larger items with extremely small ones to create some scale in your flat lay.

2. Keep the background clean: Use a white or bright background to help show the true colors of your products. Your products will stand out against white the best so if you dont have a white or light coloured floor be crafty and try using some paper or board.

2. Colours and tones: Keep harmony between your items. Stick to a colour palette of muted tones and compliment it with accessories, flowers, leaves or plants to offset the theme. For examples if you are creating a composition of beauty products offset the theme with a beautiful blooming flower.

3. Filters: Dont forget to put your photo through some great photo editing apps like the ones mentioned above. These apps have awesome filters that will brighten your whites and lighten your shadows so your image will really pop – our favourites are VSCO Cam Bright & Clean S1-S3.

4. Composition: When arranging your items either go with everything straight or everything on angles in a more organic shape. Its almost like a puzzle so make sure it’s creating lots of interesting shapes and the negative space is considered. Also bear in mind that your image will be cropped into a square.

5. Tag: Lastly don’t forget that all important tag. Hashtag in the comments section of Instagram and you can also tag the image. You never know, that brand you featured may even ‘like’ your image.


About Malika Calder:
Co-founder of Sitorial, Malika studied Graphic Design and Photography at university and then went on to hone her skills working in advertising. A passion for editorial design and fashion led her to London where she worked for 4 years at the start of the hugely successful Net-a-Porter. She later joined ASOS and a start-up shopping portal, Fashion Confidential. Following the birth of her first child, Malika moved back to Australia where she now specialises in bringing her international skills and experience to the growing Australian eCommerce industry.