• 021 159 1215
  • hello@networknz.nz

    10 Tips to Master The Flat Lay

    Hey guys, with the New Year finally here and a lot of us on a quest to conquer Instagram I thought it would only be appropriate to discuss THE FLAT LAY.

    A flat lay is a popular way of photographing a collection of items that tell a story. They are so huge on Instagram that you've probably seen your fair share without realising it. If you're in any kind of business, even services, there is probably a way you could use the flat lay for your business.

    For amazing flay lays we suggest you check out beaumondemama - Emma is the creator of the #5flatlays photo challenge and she has kindly let us use her photos in this blog.

    beaumondemama flat lay1

    1. Background

    This is arguably one of the most important parts of your flat lay whilst simultaneously being the most uninspiring part. This is the canvas you will be building your layout on so it's really important that you choose something basic and plain. A large piece of plain card from a stationary shop like Spotlight or Warehouse Stationary can make the perfect flat lay background. Many use a white background as it lets the true colours of the products stand out.

    2. Lighting

    Take your photos in filtered natural light (not bright sunlight). Maybe by a window during the morning or middle of the day.

    3. Pick a Theme

    You need to choose a theme and stick to it. Maybe your theme is sporty, bookworm, foodie, road trip, but it can't be all of them.

    4. Colour

    If you're good at colours this won't be a problem for you but if you're bad at it like me then you should invest in a colour wheel. I generally find keeping all my items neutral toned then adding just one bright colour can really make a flat lay pop.

    5. The Grid Tool

    Instagram offers a 'grid' so you can see where things line up in your image. Sometimes known as the rule of thirds. It's made up of nine squares and the idea behind it is to line up all of your items against these lines and intersections. Use your grid function on Instagram as a placement guide or if you buy a piece of card as suggested in tip number 1 lightly draw your grid lines on it in pencil.

    6. Use of Shapes

    One of the important factors of a good flat lay is shapes. Something square and something rectangle can be a good foundation to work off.

    7. Avoid Clutter

    A flat lay isn't about cramming as much as you can into an image. Sometimes less is more. Make the most of your white space and make sure there's a decent gap between each item.

    8. Birds Eye View

    Before you lay out your items think about how you will take your photo and how you can get up high enough to take it. Then make sure your items look good from a birds eye view. If you're photographing something that has a label try to position it in a way that your viewers can read its name. Lie bottles and tubs down and position your sunglasses so they are flat and not standing up. Fold clothing in half so it's not bulky. This is also another great way to make your shapes. Make sure you are directly above when you take your photo so images are not distorted. This is where the grid feature is handy to line things up properly.

    9. Use of Lines

    One of the most important factors of all for a flat lay is the use of lines. When positioning your items you need to make sure the directions aren't clashing against each other. If you're going to put something on an angle then you need to use that angle throughout or it'll just look like a mess.

    10. Editing Your Photos

    If you have taken the photo with your phone then have a look at Afterlight for photo editing. Afterlight will let you lighten the image and increase or decrease the brightness and contrast. This is helpful to remove/minimise any shadows. Also check out the sharpening tool which can make your image look much higher quality than it actually is. Try not to over edit your photos though as a more natural look is preferable.

    Other phone apps to check out:

    • Snapseed - to change the brightness, saturation, and contrast in the image. You can brighten the whites and highlight the darks.
    • Lightroom
    • VSCO Cam

    If you took your photo with a camera then you can’t really go past Photoshop.


    You don't need to be a professional photographer or have a fancy camera to take a good flat Lay. Practice when you can and take notes on what's popular with your followers when you post them. There's plenty of inspiration on Google or #flatlay so don't be afraid to play around with it until you're a Flat Lay Master.

    Do you have any tips for a good flat lay? Leave a note in the comments section below!

    Member Quick Links

    Resources Quick Links