Flat lay images are a really simple and very versatile way to showcase products and services. This style of photography is created by placing a number of items on a flat surface and shooting them from above. Simple in definition and highly effective when done well.
I’ve been using flat lay images in my own business for some time now. They are an ideal way for me to promote what I do on any of the social media platforms I use. They are also ideal on my website and with printed promotional literature too. In short they are ideal for most situations when you want to visually ‘talk’ to your potential customers.
I now produce flat lay images for a number of other businesses, a real range of product or service based brands. I’ve yet to find a business that I can’t find a way of promoting them through this form of photography.
In this blog I’m going to share some tips and considerations for flat lay images and how they could be a great option for you and your business.
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What’s The Aim?
When I create flat lays for my own business I’m looking at telling a story through that one picture. I want my potential clients to see the picture and not need words to understand what it’s about. I want to evoke memories, set emotions moving and engage them beyond a cursory glance. My aim is to get them to feel that they need to find out more. To find out either about me as a person or getting them to understand what I can offer them professionally. To become a fan or follower who looks out for my posts, engages with me and ultimately becomes a client.
Frequently I choose to use images of previous clients from their own portrait session with me. It gives potential customer examples of what they might have with me and they get a feel for my style and my personality. My existing clients love this as they get a kick from seeing themselves used in this way too. It deepens the relationship I have with them and shows them that I loved my time with them enough to use them in my own marketing. I see all of this as a total win win situation.
Flat lays are cost effective to produce, so that’s a perk! If you are the one taking the photo then they also ‘belong’ to you as the creator. This means there’s no worry with nasty surprises from potential copyright infringement. No more trying to decipher the laws and worrying if the photo you have from a stock supplier is indeed OK to use, or where you can use it and for how long.
You don’t need a fancy camera to take images like this, the average smart phone today is incredibly clever. You just need a bit of time to consider what you want and then to compose and create them. Working with natural light also keeps the cost down. By just adjusting the angle that you photograph from, or changing the focal point within your collection of items slightly you will create lots and lots of images. Whether your need is generic content or for a specific product or service campaign, you can soon create tons of content very quickly.
You think you are ready to try this…? Great… read on!
When I’m creating either for myself or for others I like to plan a bit. I consider what is being photographed and the reason why. I make a list of the items that will either compliment the featured product, or will highlight the service being offered. Consider the context and make sure it’s a believable scenario. I mean you wouldn’t have some fly fishing products next to a ball gown when promoting a new range of fishing reel…
I’ll sketch some basic ideas and make notes too.
By doing this it gives me more time to actually photograph and less time rushing around trying to find things! When I’m ready to shoot a particular scene then I refer to the list and notes, gather what I need and can start straight away. I’m also a big believer in batching content. This is planning and setting time aside specifically to just create images in this way a few times a month gives me content to draw upon whenever I need it. I get a great back catalogue of images I can use all year round too. It makes the process much more efficient and effective as your creative juices flow better in this way, rather than doing one image one day and another image another day.
For more on this you might like to read this blog Content Batching.
Style It Your Way!
For a long time flat lay images were just shot directly from above. Today though you’ll see a variety of angles used by many who create this kind of content. Either work, neither is wrong, it’s up to you how you wish your images and branding to come across really which leads me to a really great point. The entire principle has no boundaries, at least not in my eyes and not in the eyes.
- Want a clean and geometric feel to your objects – you can do this!
- Like lots of negative space in your shot – you can have that!
- Love a more eclectic or chaotic image full of items – you can do that too!
Bit of a theme here, isn’t there…
Therefore in my mind so long as your image represents you or your brand, your products or your services and tells a story that’s easy to understand then you’ve done it ‘right’.
Not Happy With What You’ve Got?
I’m frequently asked how to get things ‘just so’. My answer is always the same. I just faff until it feels right for me. Sometimes the tiniest of shifts on a piece, or altering the angle you are shooting at really can make a difference. So there is no magic solution because the beauty of flat lay styling is it’s highly individual. To you and to the story you are telling with the products or service you are selling.
Secret Tip – just relax and go with it….
Huge thanks to the Brands featured within this blog, just a few examples of the differing styles and stories being told through flat lay images:
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Finally if you’d like help with this style of photography then please do get in touch. I’m happy to offer advice and talk through options with you. I’m also available if you want to outsource this way of creating valuable content for your business. So drop me a line and we can chat away. That’s exactly how things started with Hiho Silver…
“I’ve worked with Rachel for a few years now and cannot recommend her highly enough. Rhea Freeman introduced her to me and when an opportunity came up for some new photography for Hiho, we thought that we would give Rachel a try. I wanted something very specific, in fact something that was quite a new way for a jeweller to be posting product and Rachel took that on board and worked worked with me to bring that into her photographs. I love that she is always happy to offer advice and try new things, as well as bringing her natural eye for photography and styling to play in everything that she does. She really cares about us as a brand and how we are represented, and that’s really important to us. I think Rachel may not thank us for the addiction to Hiho jewellery that she has developed, but we are now proud to have her as one of our Ambassadors and a central part of our online visuals and presentation.” Emma Warren – Hiho Silver
Have a fabulous day ahead!
If you’d like a personal canine or equine photo shoot with me, or maybe you have a small business you need photographic content support with, then please see here for more details.