What Is Flat Lay Styling?

A flat lay is, at its most fundamental level, a collection of items that are photographed on a flat surface from a bird's-eye view. The ever-popular flat lay will be the topic of today's conversation, and we'll show you how to start styling your own flat lays like a pro so that you can become a flat lay enthusiast yourself. Who knows, maybe one day we'll even start a flat lay club!

What Is a Flat Lay?

A photograph that is taken horizontally from above is known as a flat lay. A perspective from above, if you will. While it is possible to take a photograph of a single item laying horizontally and call it a "flat lay," the true essence of this type of photo lies in the way it is styled.

When I talk about "styling," I'm referring to the props and items that you add to the photos in order to give them a more branded and editorial feel and to pique the viewer's interest.

You will find a link to a free download at the bottom of this email. It will provide you with a flat lay styling planner as well as a list of over 90 ideas for props, so make sure to get that as soon as you can.

With those ideas in mind, let's proceed to the next part of our guide, which will cover the best ways to style a great flat lay.

Keep Your Branding at the Forefront of Your Mind.

When choosing props and composing your flat lays, it is essential to keep the ambience and principles of your brand in mind.

If your vibe is very earthy and natural, you probably won't style your image with things like bottles of nail polish if that's how you roll most of the time.

Think about some of the words that come to mind when you think about your brand. For example, contemporary? Comfort? Luxury? Feminine? Alternative? Edgy? Your brand should always serve as the compass for your choice of props.

Know the Why Behind Your Flatlays

What Is Flat Lay Styling?

Strong flat lays always begin with a crystal clear understanding of their why. What do you hope to achieve with the flat lay that you have created? Are you going to present a brand new item? Are you demonstrating to your customers how your service or product can benefit them in their everyday lives?

What kind of a narrative are you trying to tell with this flat lay? Your purpose, or "why," serves as the basis for your flat lay, and every choice you make in the process of putting it together should be driven by this "why."

Select Your Product

Whether it be apparel, a beauty product, sports equipment, a fashion accessory, or a style of headphones styled flat-lay product, photography is versatile enough to accommodate any product, no matter how large or how small.

Select Your Background.

The first important distinction between a regular flat lay and a styled flat lay is found in the presentation of the items in the flat lay.

When it comes to styled flat lay photography, you have virtually unlimited options to pick from, in contrast to the plain white background that is typically used for standard flat lays when they are published.

It can be patterned, textured, bright, or faded colours; the most important thing is that it reflects the personality of your brand or product and makes it stand out.

The flat lay can be enhanced just as much by the background as it can by the actual props that are used.

On the other hand, if the decision is not made very well, it may be detrimental to the image. Backgrounds that are white, wood, or marble in colour tend to attract the most followers, clients, and customers according to the current trends.

A white foam board or bristol board can be used to create white backgrounds for your projects. Backgrounds made of wood can be in the form of a desk, a wooden floor, or a deck surface.

Be wary of the tone of the wood; for example, the hardwood floors in older homes can have a very yellowish appearance that does not come across very well in a flat lay photograph. The most important thing to take away from this is that the background should be uncomplicated and tidy, and that you should let your products and props do the heavy lifting.

Choose a Clean Background

Your flat lay will have a greater impact if the background is clean and free of clutter. This is the best and easiest way to achieve this effect.

Avoid using backgrounds with busy patterns or bold colours because they are distracting and compete with the objects you are trying to showcase in your flat lay.

It's likely that you already have a plethora of fantastic background options lying around the house.

Marble countertops, white bed sheets, wood tables, neutral-colored floors, and neutral-colored floors are all popular choices because they are easy to clean and readily available.

Another simple idea for a background is to purchase some craft paper in a light colour from your local office supply store. The most important thing is to decide on a backdrop that you can use as a blank canvas.

Avoid Background “Noise”

You are going to lay your items on an important part because you want the background to contrast and complement your items rather than compete with them or draw attention away from them.

By selecting a small number of posts that are your favourites and posting them repeatedly across your Instagram feed, you can make your feed appear more organised.

The following are some examples of backgrounds you could use:

Core made of white foam (The Essential)
White duvet Marble (You can use contact paper, or if you're really lucky, a tabletop.)
Wood with a distressed natural finish
tissue paper in the form of crumpled sheets

Place Your Hero Product

The hero item is featured in the majority of flat lays. Quite frequently, it is the product that you are attempting to sell. If the focus of your flat lay is on the quality of the service you provide, then the protagonist of your story might be your laptop or a calendar.

You should begin styling your flat lay by first putting your hero product in place, and only after that should you add any other significant elements. Therefore, if your hero is a laptop, a cup of tea and a notebook might be the other features that are absolutely necessary.

Next, you'll want to experiment with the connections that your hero makes to the other important aspects of your composition. Together, they will serve as the structure upon which the smaller, more intricate props will be built.

Theme It

Notice how when you're scrolling through your Instagram feed and you come across a flat lay, you immediately know what it's about without having to read the caption? This is what we mean when we talk about "Theme Success," which is a way to create a narrative out of the components that are included in your photographs. The story is told through the picture.

Here are some common topics that you might want to consider using in your essay:

The lazy morning on a Sunday spent in bed (legs, coffee, cosy socks, an open magazine)
The fundamental components of a workspace (laptop, pens, paperclips, cute notebook, motivational quote)
What I've chosen to wear today (shoes, denim, beauty products as fillers)
What can you find in my bag? (phone, bracelets, makeup, sunglasses, magazine)
Take a peek at what's going on in the kitchen (food, ingredients, pretty trays and linens)

Prop to It

in order to make your products stand out while simultaneously reflecting both the function of your products and the identity of your brand. Lighting, composition, and selection of props would all be refined through the collaborative efforts of a team of photographers and stylists.

Following the selection of the theme comes the selection of the props, or in other words, the items that you intend to use to visually express your music and establish the ambience. Once you have put your primary props in place, I will let you in on three secrets that significantly impact the process of creating a dynamic flat lay.

Hands: It's possible that this is just a personal preference of mine, but I find that photos that include people's hands interacting with the subjects of the photograph are more engaging. Perhaps this is because a person looking at the photo can easily picture themselves doing the activity depicted in the photo, such as holding a cup of coffee or reading a book. In addition to that, it has an air of levity.
Plants, petals and organic elements: This is the one trick that you can use at any time in any situation. I've used it for years when I decorated rooms, and as a room, it's a lovely way to add some life and warmth to your flat lay. I've used it for years when I decorated rooms. It also serves the purpose of filling those spaces in a picture that have the appearance of being empty. Succulents, wood slices, eucalyptus, "spilt" flour or food around a food shot, petals, leaves, birch branches, and other natural elements are some of the most popular choices.
Books: You'll find that many flat lies include a well-placed book that is appropriate for the story that is being narrated and that is in keeping with the colour scheme that is to be in play.

Use Props That Make Sense.

If the primary focus of your flat lay is the hero product, then the secondary props serve as the ancillary characters and background details in the narrative of your presentation.

Pick props that will help your account by providing additional context to the hero product without drawing too much attention to themselves. Therefore, if your laptop is your main character, some supporting props that you might use include a pen, reading glasses, paper clips, and a watch.

In order to fill in the spaces left by the significant elements of your flat lay, position your secondary props around those elements.

Experiment with moving them around and changing the angle to find the optimal placement for them within the larger composition. The goal in setting up your flat lay is to strike a balance between the amount of space your various props take up so that the details do not draw too much attention away from the main product.

When you're deciding how to style your flat lay, keep common sense in mind. If you are a blogger planning to spend the day at the beach and you want a pretty flat lay to go along with that, you should think about what makes sense for a beach day.

Sunglasses, without a doubt. Indeed, a towel. Bags for the beach, yes. Stilettos? Nope. A purse? Naw. At the beach, nobody brings their purse or wallet. That's why you bring a beach bag with you.

You should give some thought to the "genre" or category that your flat lay would fit into, and you should make sure that the props you choose are also appropriate for that category.

Carefully Arrange Your Props.

First, take into consideration the overall size of your image. Is this picture going to be uploaded to Instagram, and if so, will it be square? Perhaps it will be a cover photo for Facebook, in which case it will be quite small and quite large.

Or will it be a ratio that is more typical, such as 4:6? Planning will assist you in arranging your props in the most advantageous manner, allowing you to extract the maximum amount of value from your photographs.

Next, think about the vibe that you want people to get from seeing your image. Perfect in terms of cleanliness and organisation? Casually elegant without any apparent effort?

You have the option of arranging your props in a linear fashion with right angles, or you can put them so that it appears as if they just happened to land in that way and look fabulous. Either way, you have two options. Both of these choices are wonderful; the decision should be made based on the mood you want to convey through the photograph.

Keep it Simple.

Perhaps my most valuable tip – keep it simple. There is no requirement that your flat-lay include ten different items. One focal point (i.e., a product) and one other styling element are typically all that is needed to create some of the most stunning flats.

When more is added, the area becomes busier and there are more places for the viewer's attention to be drawn. Your audience will lose interest and move on once it becomes visually too overwhelming for them to process everything at once.

To keep your audience coming back for more of what you have to offer, it is much more valuable to pick one or two perfect styling pieces that complement your focal point.

Stick to a Simple Colour Palette

When selecting your secondary props, it is helpful to stick to a colour palette you have established. In this way, your braces will be less noticeable because they will blend into the background rather than standing out and drawing attention to themselves.

If you're just starting out with working with colour palettes, it's best to limit yourself to no more than three or four colours that are harmonious when used together. As a bonus piece of advice, considering that black and white are both neutral shades that complement a wide variety of colour schemes, choosing black or white accessories will never lead you astray.


The secret to designing a well-balanced flat lay is to incorporate elements of varying sizes into the composition while sticking to a monochromatic colour palette.

You should also be mindful of the shapes you use; don't group too many circles (coasters, coffee mugs, compact mirrors), but rather make use of them to break up any harsher lines in your flat lay composition.

Don't make the same mistake with your colours and neutrals either; you shouldn't have just one colour on one side. For instance, if your primary element is black, sprinkle it all over the flat lay so that it stands out. Keep experimenting with the different objects until you find something that looks and feels just right.

Behind the Scenes

The behind-the-scenes flat lay can be entertaining to watch, but mastering these simple techniques will help you get the shot you want every time.

If you want to take pictures with your phone, you should really consider standing on a chair to get a better angle. In any other case, a tripod arm can be of tremendous assistance when using your DSLR.

Sticky tape can also be used to keep things in place (does it just me, or does something move when you turn your back on it?). Simply place a piece of the tape behind whatever you want to keep in place, and it will not budge.

And finally, don't forget to have fun; once you've mastered the fundamental ideas, the rest is all about developing your own unique narrative and aesthetic!

Light Your Flatlay

What Is Flat Lay Styling?

When you're just getting started with flat lays, the best way to light them is with natural light. It does not cost anything, and it is offered in all locations. The best places to take advantage of natural light are in the shade, either outside or next to a window on the shady side of your home.

The important thing is to stay out of the way of the sun's rays if you don't want your picture to have harsh shadows and a lot of contrast.

Proper Lighting Is Everything.

Lighting is one of the most important factors to consider when trying to create an appealing flat lay.

This can be accomplished with either natural or artificial light, but the light that is used must be strong and diffused. This means that the light coming from the source cannot be seen directly.

The area next to a sunny window (but not one with a direct sunbeam streaming through), a lightbox with lights shining through thin white material, or lights with softboxes are all examples of great light sources.

Do not worry if all of this talk about lighting seems overwhelming to you; additional posts are on the way that will assist you in becoming an expert in great lighting.

Shoot Your Flatlay

Because flatlays are photographed from a high vantage point, you should hold your camera so that it is directly above the centre of your flat lay. If you need to be more visible, consider standing on a chair or a ladder.

The objective is to position your camera so that it is parallel to your flat lay, with the lens facing directly downward. If you are taking pictures with your phone's camera, you should use the square crop mode, and you should also turn on the grid so that you can better align your shots.

It is in your best interest to take a large number of photographs of your product, each of which should be composed in a unique way, using a variety of perspectives and flat lay arrangements.

Once you've mastered your shot, you can unlock additional content by shooting it in a few different ways. If you've put in a significant amount of time and effort to create the perfect flat lay, you can maximise the return on your investment by taking more pictures.

Change the viewpoint from which you shoot your flat lay, try a different crop, or try substituting some of the essential props with others. In addition to that, I like to take photos of the action behind the scenes so that I can show them to my audience. It is to your advantage to obtain as much content as possible.

Edit Your Flatlay for Instagram

This section will cover the technical aspects. Image editing and retouching involve more than simply applying a filter or boosting the contrast of a picture. Deep-etching, colour correction, manipulation, and other processes are just some of the things that experienced retouchers do.

In order to give the impression that the product is real, as well as to showcase and emphasise the qualities that set your product apart from others on the market.

Every photograph can be improved with some post-shoot editing.

There are many excellent photo editing applications that can be used on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. VSCO, Snapseed, and the editing tools that are built into Instagram itself are currently at the top of my list of favourites.

The quickest and easiest ways to make your flat lays stand out are to play around with the crop, exposure, contrast, saturation, and clarity settings. Experiment with the various tools and filters to find the combination that best fits your idea of how the finished product should look.

The same as with any other skill, the more practise you put into creating flat lays, the better you'll get at it. In photography, there is no "correct" way to do things; therefore, you should only use these steps as a guide.

Experiment with new strategies and concepts once you have reached a point where you are more confident in your ability to construct flat lays. Over time, you will develop a look and feel for your work that is based on how you like to prop, light, and edit your images, which will result in the creation of your own unique flat lay style. This will be accomplished through practise.


Your flat lay has been styled, and it is now ready to be published on social media (such as Instagram, Facebook, etc.), your online store, brochures, and lookbooks in order to draw attention to your product and attract customers who fit your product's target demographic. Remember to give your overall social media feed a styled appearance.

Faqs About Flat Lay Styling