Have you heard the term flat lay photograph before?
That is until I wrote a book called So Close to Amazing and figured out that all really good book photos are taken and styled in a flat lay photograph format. Flat lay is a fancy word for overhead photography. Basically, you style everything in the photograph for an overhead angle and then take the picture.
Except it’s not really as simple as all that.
It took me a while and 47,000 book photographs to figure it out, but I finally did.
Here are some of my best tips on how to style flat lay photographs (and a few tips on how to photograph them, too).
Tip 1: Use your phone
At first, I was pulling out my camera and my tripod and standing on ladders and sweating and trying to take the very best photograph from the sky that you’ve ever seen.
It is 50 zillion times easier to just take out your phone and snap a picture.
All the photographs on this post were taken with my phone and I edited them in PicMonkey.
(total aside: you can find my best photography tips using PicMonkey here).
Tip 2: Always take the picture bigger than you need
At first I was trying to get the picture perfectly in the frame.
It kind of distorts everything and makes the objects look too wide.
Instead, pull back and take a full frame picture and then crop it to where you need.
(total aside: purple toenail polish helps take really great photographs)
Tip 3: Background is your friend
You don’t need to buy fancy props for your background.
The first picture I took on my laundry room floor.
The second picture I took on a table top.
This picture was taken on a side table.
The key is just thinking outside of the box and finding unique surfaces in your home.
Scrapbook paper works well, too.
Tip 4: Add a theme
I love red lipstick.
I mention it in the book about five zillion times along with sparkly earrings.
For this flat lay, I added some earrings and red lipstick to help bring out the personality of the book.
Tip 5: Make sure your flat lay composition makes sense
I started with blueberries for this photograph.
Next, I layered in white dishes and silverware.
Those make sense.
I tried to go all rogue with a metal ampersand.
People will be wondering what in the world ampersands have to do with blueberries.
Tip 6: Use more than the cover of the book
Here I opened the book and photographed the inside instead.
(total aside: This is a total aside about that cute total aside in the book)
Tip 7: Incorporate props
Here are two open pages with one of the diy’s in the book.
At the end of each chapter there’s a diy that relates back to the stories in the chapter.
Notice how I brought some of the flatlay props into the book?
The string is on the page.
The clip is holding the page open.
It adds a little personality to your flat lay photograph.
Now that I’ve figured them out, flat lay photographs are so much fun.
It’s like an entirely different perspective.
Please go forth and photograph (and maybe even incorporate the term “flat lay photographs” into conversation to help everyone understand how brilliant you are). 🙂
PS If these super exciting pictures made you feel like you could not live one more day with my new book, So Close to Amazing, you can pre-order it here.
It officially releases September 5, but if you pre-order it before then there are AMAZING pre-order bonuses (including an invite to the virtual launch party with tons of giveaways) found here).
PPS And a GIANT THANK YOU to all of you who have pre-ordered and help to make So Close to Amazing the #1 (it was only for a moment—but I’m still celebrating). 🙂