Flat Lay Tour Way Through Instagram!

Published by Sonal Sai on

Okay, story time! The year 2008. I was 13 years old when I picked up the camera that Papa had bought when he was in New York for a conference. It was a Sony Cyber Shot digital camera, and the first photo that I clicked was the beginning of countless others that I would be taking. Like every noob photographer. I started out with flowers, random roads, water drops – things like that. But when I got my first DSLR in 2015, I started exploring more areas – travel, wildlife, a little bit of portrait, to name a few. But the one revolutionary and fresh style of photography that stayed with me was flat lay photography. I posted my very first flat lay photograph on Instagram way back in 2016, without even knowing that it was a flat lay! But when the lockdown of 2020 started, Instagram was filled with flat lays – at least 3 out of every 5 profiles were trying out flat lay photography! And what do you know? It spread like wildfire. Okay, okay, I know you are yawning, and you want to get straight to the details. So without further ado, let’s dive right into the ocean, and get to know what flat lay photography is, types of flat lays, and the tips and tricks required to create a flawless flat lay.

What is Flat Lay Photography?
To help people out there understand, let me put it in simple words – the term flat lay is as simple as it can get, that is, laying something on a flat surface. Going one notch deeper, flat lay photography is basically photographs taken from a bird’s eye view of objects that are arranged (with or without any specific pattern) on a flat surface. Now, believe me or not, but the very first flat lay was created by a janitor called Andrew Kromelow, who worked at the Frank Gehry Furniture Store. He picked up random pieces lying around in the store and arranged them on a flat surface at 90 degrees. This technique was called knolling. Years later, in 2009, sculptor Tom Sachs adopted knolling, and it has picked up pace since then. But flat lay photography found its biggest burst of usage in the Quarantine of 2020. Why? Because everyone was stuck at home, travelling was a big no-no, and the only things one had access to were what they found at home. While flat lays were already a famous form of photography by then, this incident just took it up a notch.

Types of Flat Lays

Food Flat Lays:  What do we love the most? No, let me rephrase the question – what do I love the most?  My father tells me daily that I live for food.  And who is to deny what he says? So here I am, a huge foodie and a keen photographer, who tries to bring both passions together in the form of food flat lays. Add your main dish, throw in some ingredients, or other side elements of your choice, and voila! You’ll have your viewer drooling for the food in your picture at an ungodly hour!
Related accounts you can check out: maneet_16, prattyandfood, planetonmyplate

Product Flat Lays: Your friend gifted you these beautiful earphones. They don’t just look funky and futuristic, they actually have astonishing sound quality, and after doing your own research, you found them to be budget friendly as well! Or let’s say you are a small business, and you launched some cute accessories for dogs, and you want to let your audience know about it. The best way to do so is to go for a product flat lay, because you are not just describing the product via words, you have pictures to help your audience relate with the words. Irrespective of whether you are an influencer, brand, or a photography enthusiast, product flat lays allow people visiting your page to see and decide for themselves if they want to buy the product that they are seeing
Related accounts you can check out: flatlaysbybhumi, flatlaysandframes, snapsfromwondergirl

Fashion Flat Lays: You attended a party a week ago, and you looked stunning! Everyone wanted to know where you got your outfit from, and you felt really glad that all your efforts of staring at your cupboard for an hour and then painstakingly choosing what to wear and adding the right accessories to it finally paid off. You wonder if people on your social media page would like to know about it too. But the pain of having to wear all of that again feels tiresome. That’s where fashion flat lays come in. With a flat lay, you can arrange your outfits and accessories however you want to and then give your viewers a clear picture of your OOTD. You can also create multiple flat lays in case you are confused with different outfit styles, and let your audience help you out! Easy, right? Fashion flat lays also work if you are a brand and want to give your audience a show of your products without having to spend a lot
Related accounts that you can check out: flatlay_retail_therapy, aya_lookbook, _rosa_gaensebluemchen_

Tech Flat Lays: If I owned even half of what I desire from my long list of gadgets, I would keep flaunting them all day, everyday. But I will save that dream for when I sleep. Tech flat lays are a niche of product flat lays, except that here, you will be showcasing your gadgets. Irrespective of whether you are a tech freak, or a brand, tech flat lays are a great way to show and discuss the features of the gadget in frame. That way, you are not just providing textual insight, but also presenting the look and feel of the object
Related accounts you can check out: fine4tech, canoopsy, tjpinkush

Cups in a Frame: Some are tea persons; some are coffee persons. Meanwhile, here I am, a coffee person. That is to say, I love both coffee and tea, and can drink either of them at any given point of the day (low-key wondering if that makes me Ajay Devgn from Phool Aur Kaante). Flat lays with cups in a frame are a wonderful way to show your tea/coffee for the day, how you like to take them (no, green tea does not count as real tea), and throw in some side elements to make a pretty flat lay for people who are desperately craving for some chai or coffee!
Related accounts you can check out: zuvamart, kawowekadry, kawa.zeswetra

Minimal Flat Lays: Not just in flat lays, but the concept of minimalism has been spreading like wildfire ever since its inception. So, it’s quite obvious that when minimalism is applied to the flat lay culture, it works wonders. The best part is that with minimalistic flat lays, you hardly need 2-3 objects in your frame, making it easy as pie!
Related accounts you can check out: nico_louis1, minimalplate, simplelifestyledaily

Bookstagram: “A book is a gift that you can open again and again and again.” Garrison Keillor said this, and rightly so. If you are an avid book lover, and love to talk about the books you have read, or are currently reading, then bookstagram, or book flat lays are the perfect way to flaunt your books, and trust me, this is an amazing way to connect with other readers and exchange book suggestions!
Related accounts you can check out: _ink_and_fables, avanireads, booksmakemewhole

Show off your art: If you are insanely creative and love making or collecting beautiful things, then don’t shy away, show the world your mesmerizing talent! Whether you paint, make journals, create sculptures, collect stamps, coins, or design possibly anything, display them to your audience with flat lays. Believe me or not, you will find more people admiring your creativity than you would probably have imagined! 
Related accounts you can check out: artcartbydiksha, tiara.less, mountainclay

Tips and Tricks
Now that I have grouped flat lays into some major categories as seen on Instagram, allow me to share a few tips and tricks that I have learnt over the years of creating flat lays.
>Always use a backdrop that is in contrast to your object – if you have a darker object, opt for a lighter backdrop, and vice versa.
>Bowl-based food should be shot in the horizontal flat lay method, or the bird’s eye view, while anything in a transparent glass or a mug should be clicked in the vertical flat lay method, or what is commonly known as still life (unless you are opting for the cups in a frame style).
>Unless you want a minimalistic flat lay style, do not leave a lot of negative space in the photo, as it takes the focus away from the main object.
>When using side elements to beautify your flat lay, ensure that they do not overshadow the main object.
>Stick to a maximum of 3-4 objects.
>When creating a messy flat lay, stick to a theme, or add in elements that complement the primary object.

Congrats, you reached the last paragraph! Pat yourself on the back on my behalf. I told you what flat lay is, what the different types of flat lays are, and how you can create better flat lays, and if this doesn’t motivate you to move yourself from the couch and click some amazing pictures, then my friend, we can’t be friends any longer. But, if you did read this and created a flat lay, don’t forget to let us know! We’d be more than happy to cheer you on. Until next time, bye!

Categories: Spotlight