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How To Master The Flatlay

Can't call yourself a pro Instagrammer without perfecting this iPhoneography style.
How To Master The Flatlay Can't call yourself a pro Instagrammer without perfecting this iPhoneography style.

(images via @flatlays on Instagram)

Neatly folded clothes, perfectly arranged accessories, and strategically placed plants and flowers—wait, there’s actually a term for it! In case you haven't heard, the Instagram community has already coined a name for this top shot photography, and it’s called the #flatlay. Now, if you were able to read our cheat sheet to scoring more hearts on IG, you should know by now that mastering this art is a total must. Don’t worry, we can turn you into a pro in no time! Read on as we school you on the tricks of the trade.

Choose a theme.

If you want something dainty and feminine, go for pastels, lace, flowers—even rose petals will do. But if you’re going for the summer vibe, try to pick elements that are more aligned with your story, say a bikini, some leaves, and a pair of sunnies. Choose a theme and stick with it.

Pick a good background.


A plain white backdrop always works, but you don’t have to limit yourself to it. You can still play around, like with wooden floors and tables, your duvet cover, or even your pink faux fur rug. Just choose something easy on the eyes and keep in mind that the items should still be the center of attention.

Natural light works the best.

We know it’s such a cliché and we’ve said it a million times already, but we can’t stress enough on its importance. Set it up right next to a window then shoot where there’s even lighting, or if you want more drama, place it where you can get a good shadow.

Keep the colors in harmony.


Take note of your color palette. Doesn’t have to be the same color for everything, but do keep in mind that clashing hues can ruin the entire photo.

Mind the proportion.

In other words, learn how to balance it out. Place your larger items first, and then strategically fill the remaining space with small accessories and other elements.

Think outside the box.

It doesn’t always have to be folded shirts, shoes and your Macbook. Try to incorporate other random things that would also go well with your chosen theme. It shouldn’t even be strictly fashion and beauty items, you know? Even a banana can create a huge difference.


Don’t feel the need to cram the entire photo with objects.

Sometimes, less is more. Don’t feel pressured to include everything in the photo. If it doesn’t work, learn how to edit things out. It’s called minimalism, and btw, it works really well on flatlays.

Use a step stool.

Flatlays are in essence top shots. While we’re not expecting you to randomly stand on the chair if you’re taking a #foodstagram snap of your candlelit dinner, you may want to pull out a step stool if you’re just having a lazy Sunday Instagramming at home. Especially if you want larger items included in the shot, trust us, it’s going to be worth it.