The Art of Flat Lays

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Lately, I've been obsessing with flat lays (aside from matte lipsticks) that it took me an hour to shoot a decent one. I googled for some tutorials on how to master, err, learn it. Well, it's hard if you don't have a good backdrop. By that, I mean, a plain white floor or a white furry mat. It all depends on which items you're gonna shoot, though. As for me, whenever I need to create one, I just use a white towel or a white curtain (with small cutesy pink diamonds) as backdrop. So far, they work. But they don't appeal that much like the ones you see on Instagram. And it's just heartbreaking. Like, how do they do that perfectly with great lighting and stuff?

But thanks to Google and those people who share their tips and tricks! Aside from a variety of good backdrops, here are my top 5 musts if you want to perfect a flat lay.

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Like birthdays or any celebrations, we have to decide which theme we're going for before we go in action. If you're doing flat lays for beauty or fashion, it could be what's inside our kikay kit or our OOTDs. If you want to share your luscious dinner, it could be a table full of food. If you want to snap your Bali trip, it could be your passport with stamp, plain ticket, and your hotel key. Each element should complement one another and should all make sense as a whole.

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Also called the hero piece. You gotta focus on one item from all the stuff you're flat lay-ing. Whether you're shooting your new top or your classic favorite book, make sure it stands out. Add embellishments on the side to make the subject look more appealing.

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Nothing makes a great flat lay without a perfect lighting. For you to achieve it, always shoot during daytime. Natural light makes your photo Instagram post-worthy already. It'll also minimize the need to edit it afterwards. If ever you need to shoot indoors, find the most well-lit spot that doesn't give much shadows (avoid them as much as possible unless you really intend on including them) on your items at the same time.


A good flat lay comes with a finishing touch, of course. You don't need to make a lot of enhancements or apply tons of filter. You only need to adjust brightness and contrast, highlight some areas, make the photo looks sharp and you're good to go. Snapseed and VSCO are good picks and come in free!

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Get on a chair, a stable stool or a step-in ladder to capture the whole photo setup. Unless you care how silly you'd look, then don't bother. And always remember, safety first.

Also keep in mind the details —a little fold from a pair of jeans, or an angled shot of a book; proportions —make the spaces or margins equal or stick to the rule of thirds for a balanced photo; shoot flat lays in square —personally, I prefer shooting in square so no cropping will be needed afterwards (but it all depends on you); and finally, don't overdo it. Keep it minimal and simple.

If you have a few techniques of your own, feel free to share them below. I'd love to learn them.

Happy flat lay-ing!


  1. Ate Jam - came across your blog through Instagram and I'm excited cause I remember meeting you through Xanga!! Hehehe. This was a great post cause I've always struggled with these kinds of photos D:


  2. Een! Of course, our Xanga days! :D Surely, struggle is real with these flat lays! Oh, for Instagram's sake. Haha