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 gets 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. A LOT!!! Here’s what I learned after taking a bazillion photos.
How to Conquer a Flat Lay
Tell a Story
They say a picture says a thousand words or something like that 😉 And because yesterday was Heritage Day in South Africa, I wanted to try to 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?
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.
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 Proteas 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 😉
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 it is 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.
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? They kind of look like babies’ breath. That’s another member of the fynbos family.
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 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 its glory. Except, of course, when the sun decides to put a spotlight on the King. Then you just gotta take advantage of that 😉
Is that Instagram-worthy or what!!? Okay, maybe it won’t get me thousands of new followers, but I’m pretty happy. I really learned 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 😉
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 😉