Quick Read: Flatlay Basics

July 25, 2017

Flatlays are one of those things that can be surprisingly tricky to execute but I always follow a few simple rules to make sure that my vision comes across.  The first and most important is to shoot in natural light, preferably “flat” light for the look achieved in all of these images.  Flat light can be found in the shade or by a window.  If you are shooting inside by a large natural light source, make sure to turn off all of the nearby lamps and lights (particularly overhead) as they can cast an unwanted shadow or change the color of your image.

I always try to chose a neutral backdrop, often times it’s marble.  The top two images were shot on a slab of marble I picked up from Home Depot.  You can even buy a bunch of squares and put them together to create your own countertop (in convenient lighting conditions).  It’s easy to quickly smooth over the cracks in Photoshop.

It’s best to pick a theme; food is often a popular one and is particularly fun to play around with.   I often take desk shots and product shots, or try to create a little scene to set a mood.    Oftentimes, I try to set up the scene on the floor so that I don’t have to teeter too high on a ladder or chair to get directly overhead.  The iPhone is great for flatlays, and those are often some of my favorite shots.  Oftentimes, less is more, and when it’s not working, it’s best to remove items rather than keep adding.  And remember that we read an image from left to right, so it’s often best to load the bottom righthand corner with the heaviest object, or at least weigh your subject a bit to the right.  If you put an object at the bottom lefthand corner without anything to balance it out on the right, the photo might feel off.   Of course there are some images where you just have to throw away all the rules, like the final one in this post.  I always try to remember to keep going and not get too frustrated, often I find the first image I style is my favorite! xx


  • Reply Hannah July 25, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    This was so helpful – I really enjoy your photography tips! I actually just listed you in my “photographers who inspire me” blog post I did yesterday! I hope that’s okay.

    A big fan,

    • Reply Lucy Cuneo August 7, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      That is so lovely Hannah, thank you for letting me know!!!! xxx

  • Reply Kelly Wisniewski July 25, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    I’ve recently started reading up on photography. I started a blog for fun and really want to get better at my photography, so reading little tid bits like this is SO helpful. I finally decided that I want to get serious about my blog, as well, since I have been feeling less than inspired at work. In the background, I have been writing posts and studying photography, attempting to edit pictures in Lightroom, etc. in hopes of re-launching in mid-August.. Now, I can take these tips and add them to my work, as well.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Lucy Cuneo August 7, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      That’s great Kelly, can’t wait to see!!! 🙂 xxx

  • Reply Venita July 26, 2017 at 1:15 am

    Love this Lucy! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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