Five years ago (on Dec. 2011) I opened my first blog, Ogniricciouncapriccio.
Even though I never fully liked that name (cute, but way too common in Italy), at the very beginning I was really excited about my new project, but as time went by I realized I never grew fond of it: I wasn’t inspired enough to create good content and TBH my laziness eventually took over. This year I decided to make a fresh start (as you may have read here) and do better, new things.
What many of you probably don’t know is that I’m a huge MCU fan, so I thought: all the stand alone movies were good, but the Avengers Assemble movie was great! And that’s exactly what I want for my second blogging chapter: something great. So why not assemble my own team of friends, bloggers, photographers, stylists, pros who are all bringing their A-game to the community? I selected a handful of super talented girls all over the world and asked them if they would have wanted to write for me sometimes… and they said yes!
It was really important to me to start this series with an article written by Connie: since I opened my IG account, I really enjoyed shooting flatlays but gathering all the right equipment took me time and learning how to improve my skills wasn’t that easy. At least until I – virtually – met Connie!
Below there is one of the amazing BTS shots from her Instagram account:
You can see her portfolio here.
Connie really helped me out a lot, giving me some amazing advice and insiders’ tips not only writing about her main photography tricks in photo captions, but also answering all my newbie questions.
I was so happy when she agreed on writing this article and I really hope you’ll find it as useful as I did! Enjoy your read!
About the contributor:
Connie Chan is a Sydney-based photographer and content creator known for her detailed styled flatlays and product photography. When she’s not in the studio, you can usually find her hiking in national parks, hand folding homemade dumplings, or perfecting her headstand technique at her favourite yoga studio.
1. Make Your Hero Standout
Typically a flatlay will have 1 or 2 hero items as the main focus. Make sure they are prominent in the frame. Our eyes are often drawn to areas of contrast so if your hero item blends too much into your background, try putting a different coloured prop under it like a blanket or notebook. Or consider using a different background. Simple, neutral coloured backgrounds without busy patterns will make your hero stand out the best.
2. Choose A Colour Palette
Base your colour palette on the hero items in your flatlay. If colour palettes are not your strong point, try sticking to only 2-3 colours in your flatlay. Keep your colours in the same family such as only soft pastels or only bright punchy colours.
If your hero piece is a tad boring in the colour department, try basing your colour palette on a magazine photo and include it in your flatlay. But be sure to pick a photo that suits the theme of your hero items.
3. Collect More Props Than You Think You Need
Never have I ever thought “these are the exact props I need to complete this flatlay” and been correct. Never. Scour your drawers, shelves, and wardrobe for anything that could compliment your hero items keeping in mind your chosen colour palette. It might surprise you what objects work and what won’t, but you’ll never know until you try. All sorts of everyday objects like coins, rings or paper clips can suddenly become the perfect items to complete your flatlay.
4. Lighting Is Everything
Lighting is what makes or breaks any image. It’s the first rule photographers always learn.
Since most Instagrammers shoot their content in and around their homes, natural light is the best option for flatlays. Choose soft window light where the sun isn’t shining directly onto your flatlay. Turn off any other light sources in the area such as room lights and desk lamps. Multiple light sources is not a good idea. If you’re outside, shoot in the shade or on an overcast day. Direct sunlight will create hard shadows and make your image too contrasty.
I like to use a white board (or several) to bounce light back into my flatlay to make the lighting more even across the whole image and to brighten the shadows. Place the board opposite to your light source.
5. Finding Balance
Balance is the key to great composition. Spread your pops of colour around the frame instead of keeping them all clumped together on one side. Place hero items and brighter colours near the middle to draw your audience in. Keep the spacing between objects consistent.
Once you’ve got a handle on creating balance in your frame, try playing around with negative space (the blank areas in your composition). Lots of negative space can make your image feel airy and keep your flatlay from feeling too crowded.