A Crafty Mix


5 Tips to Help You Conquer a Flat Lay Photoshoot

Blogging is hard work you guys. Well for me it is anyway. There are so many things to learn and remember. Fortunately there are awesome bloggers out there who are always willing to share their knowledge and continually push you to new heights. Like the Int’l Bloggers Club. Every month a small group of bloggers get together to share what’s been happening in their corner of the world and set each other challenges. It’s loads of fun. This month we’re all attempting to conquer the art of flat lay photography. Which is just a very technical term for putting things on a flat surface and taking photos. Sounds easy right. HUH!!! I struggled with this one. ALOT!!! Here’s what I learnt after taking a bazillion photos.

How to Conquer a Flat Lay

Tell a Story

They say a pictures says a thousand words, or something like that 😉 And because yesterday was Heritage Day in South Africa I wanted to try use pictures of what that heritage means to me. We live in a country with the largest selection of fynbos (loosely translated as fine bush) in the world. Did you know that Table Mountain alone boasts more than 1500 different fynbos species making it more botanically diverse than the whole of the United Kingdom.

South Africa is the only country in the world with an entire plant kingdom within its bordersClick to Tweet

So the flat lay story I wanted to share involves our national plant, the Protea, probably the most famous member of the fynbos family. And more specifically I wanted to tell the story of the King Protea and his Blushing Brides.

Flat lay photography isn't easy, but you can do it using these easy tips #photographytips #flatlay #protea #southarfican

Set the Scene

I had to do a lot of research for the flat lay challenge. I was completely clueless. Most of the blogs I read mentioned how important the background is. Looking at all the gorgeous photos, white is the “go to” background for fashion and beauty shots, while foodies and travel bloggers seem to prefer a darker background. For the height of luxury, Faux, or real marble is a must. I tried all of those, but they just didn’t work.

The white was too flat. The pale, dusky pink petals of the Proteas just blended into the background. I would have loved to use a dark background. Then my story may have been a bit different. Like a fairy tale where the King ventures into deepest, darkest Africa to save his blushing brides. Yes, here in South Africa you can have many brides. Our President has six of them and counting 😉 Sadly, the dark background didn’t work either. It looked like the Protea’s were getting ready to be dissected by some flower obsessed vampire. So I ended up using a piece of wood instead. Hey, it’s dusty and grimy, just like our African soil after a long drought 😉

Flat lay photography isn't easy, but you can do it using these easy tips #photographytips #flatlay #protea #southarfican

Find an Angle

Top down? Bottom up? From the side? Apparently they’re all ways you can shoot a flat lay. It’s all about finding that unique angle that catches the eye and draws you into the picture. When you shoot top down they say the easiest way to do is it from as high as possible. Right, so that involves getting the ladder out and hanging on like a drunk monkey, while desperately trying to keep your camera hand steady. Or you could take the easy way out and go for the side view.

Flat lay photography isn't easy, but you can do it using these easy tips #photographytips #flatlay #protea #southarfican

Perfectly Composed or Chaotic Madness

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pull the Perfectly Composed shot off. My mind is too cluttered with crap cool ideas. I tried hard though, and of the seven hundred gazillion photos I took, this is probably the only reasonably composed one I got 😀 Do you see those tiny little flowers on the skull. The kinda look like babies breath. That’s another member of the fynbos family.

Flat lay photography isn't easy, but you can do it using these easy tips #photographytips #flatlay #protea #southarfican

Light Me Up

Okay so this one was pretty obvious. Lighting is so important when it comes to taking photos. But when you take flat lays it can be challenging. The whole purpose of a flat lay is to tell a story in a a tiny space and shadows and harsh sunlight can wreak havoc. The best light is natural light, preferably in the morning, before the sun comes out in all his glory. Except of course when the sun decides to put a spotlight on the King. Then you just gotta take advantage of that 😉

Flat lay photography isn't easy, but you can do it using these easy tips #photographytips #flatlay #protea #southarfican #photography101

Is that Instagram worth or what!!? Okay maybe it won’t get me thousands of new followers, but I’m pretty happy. I really learnt so much doing this challenge. If you ever need to hire a ladder clinging, monkey that grunts and wobbles for no apparent reason, just give me a call 😉

Flat lay photography isn't easy, but you can do it using these easy tips #photographytips #flatlay #protea #southarfican #photography101

Have you tried flat lay photography? Do you have any other tips for me? Talking about tips, I’m off to see what my friends at the Int’l Bloggers Club have done with their flat lays. Wanna join me?

Oh and before I forget, if your looking for a few more resources to help conquer flat lays, we’ve got you covered Disclosure: Clicking on the links below, means we may receive a commission from Amazon. But don’t worry it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us come up with more crafty ideas to share with you 😉

Vinyl Photography Backdrop 3-Pack for Product, Flat Lay & Food Photography - Natural Wood, White Wood & White Marble ~2 x 3ft / 23 x 35in…
Fovitec - 2-Light Table Top Fluorescent Lighting Kit for Photo & Video with 15' Lightstands
Sale Premium Background Paper for Photography - 3 Pack - 4x12 Foot Rolls - Seamless Designs - Perfect Shiplap Photography Backdrops for Baby Pictures, Headshots, and More

Made with love by a Crafty Mix

Categories:   DIY Tutorials, Int'l Bloggers Club, Party Time


  • Posted: March 15, 2019 19:26


    Stumbled upon your website, great photography skills you have there! Gained some inspirations for my future shoots.
    • Posted: March 16, 2019 14:48


      Yay, doing the happy dance over here. Thank you Chloe 😘
  • Posted: October 8, 2017 11:24

    Keri Roberts

    Michelle, all your photographs are amazing!! It's so awesome learning about South Africa. I had no idea that you all have so many different plant life there, too cool! They really are beautiful photos; you have a gift!!
    • Posted: October 9, 2017 04:41


      Awww Keri, thank you so very much
  • Posted: October 3, 2017 15:09

    Christina Makri

    Really I could not imagine it is so difficult and I have to consider so many things. I think I will never manage to shoot a proper flatlay as my photograph skills are not good at all. Your photos look magical but you had the right material.. the flowers and the skull! Perfectly excellent job Michelle and thank for the great tips you shared with us :)
    • Posted: October 4, 2017 06:07


      It's a pleasure Christina, I'm glad you found them valuable
  • Posted: September 29, 2017 14:20


    Beautiful photos and interesting post. Kisses, Michelle!
    • Posted: September 29, 2017 15:08


      Thanks so much Mia xoxoxoxo
  • Posted: September 29, 2017 12:23


    I love this photos and the tips are great. I am obsessed with photography but I am not very good at taking photos. Somehow I always miss the angle and end up with a photo that I am not proud of.
    • Posted: October 2, 2017 14:05


      I struggle too Elena. I always admire all those bloggers who seem to get it right so effortlessly
  • Posted: September 28, 2017 11:26


    I've been to South Africa and it is beautiful. Although I didn't see many flower during my trip are the ones in your pictures rare? I've never seen them before. Thank you for sharing with us tips on how to take pretty flat lay pictures such as these!
    • Posted: September 28, 2017 11:47


      Uuummmm, I don't think so Nicole. You'll find them in most florists from about May to September, so I suppose it depends on when you came to South Africa.
  • Posted: September 27, 2017 21:38


    Oh, I just love your photos! I love taking flat shots too! Thanks so much for reminding me just how beautiful they can be!
    • Posted: September 28, 2017 09:34


      Thanks so much Carolann. At point I was getting so frustrated with the photos, but I'm glad I pushed through. I learnt so much
  • Posted: September 27, 2017 17:39

    Sadhna Grover

    Your post is very interesting, I really enjoyed reading it. Yes, there is polygamy in South Africa and some other African countries as well. Your clicks are awesome, I know you tried hard to get them. I am also not good in photography. Your national plant is so cool with such lovely light pink colour.
    • Posted: September 28, 2017 04:58


      Thanks so much Sadhna, Africa really is such an interesting continent.
  • Posted: September 27, 2017 13:59


    You mastered it, Michelle! Every one of those photos is gorgeous. Perfect backdrop choice too. I know absolutely nothing about flat lay photography but love looking at flat lay photographs. The thought of hanging from a tall ladder while trembling in fear and accomplishing a unblurry photo sounds VERY challenging. If you lived near me, I'd hire you in a heartbeat! Thanks for sharing your tips with us.
    • Posted: September 27, 2017 14:21


      I'm not sure if I was trembling in fear or anticipation Marie, but damn that ladder sure wobbled alot :D
  • Posted: September 27, 2017 11:11

    Tiffany Yong

    I've tried flatlay and respect those who have been doing that for ages. The effort put in to layout and get materials to change the look of the flatlay requires time, money and it's too much for me!
    • Posted: September 27, 2017 11:51


      Right??!!! Before doing the challenge I had this idea that it was easy. I was soooo wrong
  • Posted: September 27, 2017 09:09

    Jasmine Eclipse

    Your photos are so beautiful! Thank you for these tips. I'm a big fan of flatlay photography, I think it's so classy!
    • Posted: September 27, 2017 11:53


      It does look so classy Jasmine, I agree. And knowing how difficult it actually is and have the utmost respect for those togs that get it right and make it seems so effortless
  • Posted: September 27, 2017 07:39


    Michelle you ladder climbing person, you have outdone yourself. Those flowers are stunningly beautiful. That last one in particular is phenomenal. The way the light hits the big flower that is all the money!! I didn't even pay attention to the light nor climb a ladder, and had to pay for it afterwards. Haha! I would definitely hire you to be my go to person for flatlays.
    • Posted: September 27, 2017 11:50


      LOL Mary, I don't think my flat lay skills are hire-able just yet my friend? But I soooo appreciate your comment. I have always loved your photos of Greece so it really means a lot to me
  • Posted: September 27, 2017 05:02


    These are great tips! I struggle with flat lay photos as well. I really like the wood background. It seems rustic & natural. I also really like the flowers in the skull too.
    • Posted: September 27, 2017 05:28


      It seems a lot of us struggle with them. And silly me I thought it was going to be an easy challenge.
  • Posted: September 26, 2017 22:46


    Oh I did not know the Protea was your national flower! And it's a beautiful one! You rocked that challenge, and the pictures of the Protea you did looks great. I am a big fan of the skull version! Great work Michelle :)
    • Posted: September 27, 2017 05:13


      Thanks so much Bea, I kinda like the skull one too 🙂
  • Posted: September 26, 2017 19:41

    Reese Alvarado

    Wow, those are probably the prettiest flowers I have ever seen! Thank you for sharing.
    • Posted: September 27, 2017 05:14


      Aren't they just gorgeous and they last forever.
  • Posted: September 26, 2017 17:22

    Katerina Konstantinou

    I was just trying this a few days back and I got a total mess! Thanks for your great tips! I'm doing it again tomorrow!
    • Posted: September 27, 2017 05:25


      I know what you mean Katerina. I took sooooooo many photos and only found a few that worked. Flat lays are hard work
  • Posted: September 26, 2017 15:13


    Some great tips! And your photos turned out fabulously! I've tried flat lay a couple of times, and it's hard. I definitely need a lot more practice. Maybe this will help get me started. :)
    • Posted: September 27, 2017 05:27


      Thanks so much Amy. I think I still need loads of practice too :D
  • Posted: September 26, 2017 14:05

    Stephanie Jeannot

    Wow. This is an excellent post for me. Flat photos is definitely not my cup of tea. I always find it difficult to capture. Thank you for sharing this!
    • Posted: September 26, 2017 14:48


      I still struggle Stephanie, but I'm so glad that the IBC made it a challenge for this month. It forced me to try at least
  • Posted: September 26, 2017 11:53


    These are really great tips! I need these suggestions because I've been wanting to add more to my Instagram feed. For me, I struggle with lighting and shadows the most - I guess I just need some practice!
    • Posted: September 26, 2017 14:51


      UGH, I hear you. Those shadows always mess with the program ;-)
  • Posted: September 26, 2017 10:44


    Enjoyed reading your blog and learning about Protea. You are good with words and pictures!
    • Posted: September 26, 2017 14:51


      Thanks so much Aditi :D
  • Posted: September 26, 2017 10:42

    Ana Ro

    I struggle with flat lays and generally with static photography. Thanks for the tip. And it was very interesting to know about South Africa too ;)
    • Posted: September 26, 2017 14:50


      Me too Ana ;-) Me too
  • Posted: September 26, 2017 08:16


    Beautiful photography skills you've got!
    • Posted: September 26, 2017 14:49


      Thank you Nabeha, I still have a long way to go, but I'll get there little bits at a time
  • Posted: September 26, 2017 06:03

    Tanvi Rastogi

    I often struggle with flatlays. Finding a good color scheme and products to compliment the main object is what I often find hard to achieve. These are some great ideas.
    • Posted: September 26, 2017 06:53


      You and me both Tanvi ;-)
  • Posted: September 26, 2017 03:53


    One of the things I like most about our challenge is to learn not so known facts about other countries; I had no idea South Africa had such a botanical diversity. Those flowers are beautiful and you did a wonderful job with your flat lay shoots, it seems as if you've done it for a long time. I like the background you used, it makes the flowers pop and the skull shoot is gorgeous
    • Posted: September 26, 2017 05:09


      Thank you so much Pili. We are very lucky to live in such a beautiful country. One of the biggest tourist attractions for nature lovers is a place, close to the Namibian border. Every Spring, the fields are covered with and explosion of colorful Namaqualand daisies. It literally takes your breath away.
      • Posted: September 26, 2017 13:42


        I think I will add South Africa soon as part of our homeschool program... Why I thought it was dry? I had the same thought about Mallorca before I had the chance to visit it
        • Posted: September 26, 2017 14:20


          That would be so awesome Pili. Certain parts of South Africa are dry, especially now that we have a drought. But each province is unique. It's lush and tropical in KwaZulu Natal and just a few hours away in the Western Cape it's like being in the Mediterranean, with warm dry summers and moist winters. If you travel through the Midlands it almost feels like you're in the Scottish Highlands and then we have the Karoo, a semi arid desert, where the roads go on for miles through scrubby bush and the sunsets blind you with their beauty. It's a truly fascinating country. Please let me know if I can send you anything to help with share our beautiful country with your daughters. And if you ever want to see the raw beauty of our country for real, let me know. I would love to host you and your family
          • Posted: September 26, 2017 22:39


            Thank you so much for all the info, I will do some research about it and I am sure I will need some help so I'll let you know. Amazing you have such diversity... One of the things I like most is travelling, those memories last forever. Don't make that offer twice or maybe one day you'll have us as guests ;)
          • Posted: September 27, 2017 05:09


            ;-) You and your family will always be welcome here Pili
  • Posted: September 26, 2017 01:37

    FLORENCE @ VintageSouthernPicks

    I've tried flat lays too, and I agree, they're a challenge, yet they LOOK simple. At least when you're looking at it, it looks simple. The hard part for me is the ladder b/c I have such a fear of falling. Ha! I know there's nothing simple about it. Anyhow, this was such an interesting post! I've never heard of "fynbos." So it's a flower? So glad you told us more about So. Africa! I would like to know more. Tell us more Michelle!
    • Posted: September 26, 2017 05:37


      Flat lays are so deceiving. I really thought it would be simple too ;-) I have a whole new respect for people who get it right. Fynbos is actually the group name for the type of vegetation that grows in the Western Cape and it includes proteas, pincushions, geraniums, freesias and ixias. I think those are the ones people are most familiar with because of their lovely flowers but there are more than 9000 fynbos species, which is quite astounding. If you ever get a chance to come to South Africa and take a trip you'll find 150 plus unique species per 1000 km which is almost three times more than you'll find in the world’s rain forests. Now that's worth writing home about :D
  • Posted: September 26, 2017 01:22

    Angie ~ Ambient Wares

    The Protea is one beautiful plant and you're photos are just as beautiful. You nailed the flat lay photography, Michelle :)
    • Posted: September 26, 2017 05:38


      Thanks so much Angie. I'm going to practice a bit more, maybe I'll get the that perfect composer right some day :D
  • Posted: September 25, 2017 22:59

    Linda at Mixed Kreations

    Your photos are beautiful Michelle! I don't see how they can get any better. I've never heard of Protea, but it is beautiful. Just like your photos 😊
    • Posted: September 26, 2017 05:39


      😊 Thank you so much Linda. Those Protea's are lovely. I was lucky to find both of them at our local florist and just in time too. They normally stop flowering around the end of September
  • Posted: September 25, 2017 19:23


    Those are some great tips. I am still at a very basic stage with photography, but I will surely try to keep these in mind next time I try to take photos like this.
    • Posted: September 26, 2017 05:47


      I'm so glad you found the tips useful. Thank you so much.
  • Posted: September 25, 2017 18:20

    Sarah - Craft Invaders

    What an exciting challenge Michelle, I love your story, and the flowers are beautiful. Interestingly, your incredible skull looks just like he's hanging on a wall to me - I think it's a brilliant photo :)
    • Posted: September 26, 2017 05:46


      :D It was super exciting and frustrating at the same time. When you put so many things on a small space, every detail seems to count. I love that wooden skull. She normally stands on my bedside table but seemed perfect to showcase the proteas
  • Posted: September 25, 2017 16:29


    These are very good advice! I actually went to the DIY warehouse in my town and got free wallpaper samples which I use as my backgrounds for the flat lays. They are brilliant and you would never tell the background was just wallpaper.
    • Posted: September 26, 2017 05:42


      That's a great idea Joanna. I must remember that next time. Than