Tips for styling a nature-inspired flat lay


As featured in Makes for Mindfulness, a bonus project book inside issue 77, this stop-and-take-it-all-in photograph got all the heart eyes from the team. So much so, we asked Mollie‘s deputy art editor for her tips on flat lay photography. Read on for Becki Clark‘s advice on buying props, analysing your most-loved photos and where to find the best backgrounds for your flat lays.

Setting the scene

Before arranging your flat lay think about the mood you want to represent as this will help you choose props, colours, textures and composition.

Background

Choose a flat lay background that complements the products and doesn’t distract the viewer. Use simple backgrounds such as tabletops, wooden floorboards, white cardboard, marble tiles, shaggy rugs or freshly-ironed bed sheets. Now’s your chance to raid Mum’s linen cupboard.

Choosing your props

Use a selection of props and ensure you have a range of shapes and textures; this will help to create movement in the image and give it depth. If you were styling something graphic, for instance, you would perhaps use props with strong shapes, lines and colours with more of a block feel to them, whereas with our image (featured above) we wanted to create a moodboard idea with different textures, colours and props so we used soft hand-dyed linens, yarns, textured ribbons and papers.

Buying props

You don’t always have to buy props; you can look for interesting shapes, pattern and colours in normal things. There might be an old top in your wardrobe that doesn’t fit but would make the perfect fabric to create texture in your shot. Your garden is another place to find props; wild flowers and foliage are lovely and even things you might think look like weeds can be totally transformed in a styled flat lay.

Colour combos

Try and keep your colour palette limited, use different hues to keep a consistent theme throughout and choose colours that represent the mood you’re going for.

Layout

Make sure you give things space and keep the balance of the photo in mind. Props work well in odd numbers so threes or fives of things is great. Set up your tripod and camera and mark out the edges of the photo with washi tape. This will mean less back and forth between flat lay and camera screen and will also help with getting things in shot.

Inspiration

Bring up your favourite Instagram feeds and get analysing. What is it about that person’s photography that you love so much? Draw inspiration from less obvious places too, everything from food to fashion flay lays can trigger an idea of your own.

Have a play

Don’t be scared to change things around: move things, add large props to tiny little props, layer products, add textures – get creative!

Mollie Makes 77 is on sale 2 March.
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