Flat lay photography is one of the styles that is hugely popular at present. It attracts viewers with visual appeal and simplicity. You can see such images everywhere from food blogs to tech products ads. There are over 3 million posts with a hashtag #flatlay on Instagram that proves the popularity of the meticulously arranged items photographed from above. You can also use this style to increase your sales. Let us learn the basics before you start your first flat-lay clothing photoshoot.
Types of flat lay photography
Flat-life photography can also have different styles. The difference between them is clearly seen once you look at them. For product photography mainly packshot photography is used, which increases sales. These are photos where the product is centered as it should attract the attention of shoppers. Its only goal is to showcase the product to sell it. For instance, if you are a merchant with plans to sell on the Amazon platform, then you should select packshot photography.
Still-life photography requires more creativity as a rule. If we just take photos of different subjects, they look quite ordinary. But everything changes when the photographer puts some idea into the image. Such photography attracts attention and makes viewers wonder about it. Such photos pursue different goals as a rule. The idea and creative approach can be more important in this case than the product. But that doesn’t mean that such photos can’t serve commercial goals.
Don’t skip the chance of using still life flat photography to your advantage when you sell your products or services. It can increase the merchant’s purchasing power. Try it out and experiment a lot to release the creativity and enjoy the result!
Equipment for flat lay photography
There are 4 basic methods for the arrangement of studio space so the choice of the equipment depends on the method applied by the photographer. You can select the method depending on your goals.
- Use of a dedicated flat lay table
The most expensive and the most convenient option is the use of a dedicated flat lay table. It is easy to install the camera there on a special mount. The table is equipped with lateral lighting where you can control all parameters (range, intensity) for the best effect. There is also a software suite with different functions embedded. For instance, it can streamline the photography session. It’s a matter of seconds to remove the background and even publish the result to the platform specified by you.
- Use of a camera, tripod, and a flat surface
This method is more affordable as it requires only a camera, a tripod, and a flat surface. However, the person can be limited when using a flat surface and a camera on a tripod. The rigid construction doesn’t allow to move it in different directions. It moves only horizontally in relation to the stand. Besides, the height of tripod construction prevents the arrangement of the items on the tabletop. The photographer can do it on the floor to have enough distance between the camera and products.
There are some problems with using a scheme:
- There is not enough backlit surface.
- The level of mobility is low.
- Use of a camera, a ladder, and a flat surface
If you don’t have a tripod or prefer not to use it, you can try the manual shooting from above. A photographer may need a ladder when shooting a flat lay manually from above. Place the products on the tabletop and arrange the lighting the way you need. By doing so, you create a usual setup of a traditional photography studio.
Such a method has its drawback, which is the low repeatability of shots. The position of a photographer changes each time a new approach is applied. There are also some limitations relating to ISO and shutter speeds that don’t allow you to use an extensive range of camera settings.
- Use of a mobile device
Instagrammers and auction app users always use such a method. However, it is not suitable when high repeatability of shots is needed, for instance, when shooting for e-commerce platforms.
Each move of the hand changes the field of view. As for automatic exposition, its interpretation of light is different when diverse angles are chosen. It doesn’t allow to achieve a consistent result as far as color and brightness are concerned.
You can surely resort to this method as it is fast and easily available. However, it is impossible to achieve professional quality with it. When a stable result is required, it is better to practice the methods described above.
The necessity of preparation for apparel flat lay shoot
If you want to showcase the product in the most favorable light, preparation for a photoshoot is a must. In fact, the scheme of actions is the same as with all other products. You should select the approach depending on the goal. One of the goals is to be informative and precise as you show the details of the garment not to delude the customers. The other goal is to impress the customers so you should be creative when showcasing the product. At this, your photos should be close to reality. What should you do to prepare clothes for a flat lay shoot?
- Remove all labels and price tags.
- Clean the item if needed. Use the tape roll to get rid of lint.
- Iron the garment and then stretch it the way you want it to be photographed.
- To look professional, avoid creases that create an untidy effect.
Take a realistic photo to display all details of the product. You can dedicate one photo from the set to meet this requirement, while other photos from the set can be made, using still life photography. By creating such shots, you have more freedom, consequently, the preparation stage may take longer depending on your concept. You can resort to additional effects and present the item in a natural layout, for instance, when it is folded. Some cool detail on the picture can make your photo more versatile, for example, a device placed near the item.
Lighting for flat lay photography
Lighting is the next step that should be properly performed to create ideal flat lay photos. It plays a very important role in the quality result. We can use the benefits of natural daylight. If it is not sufficient, use additional lamps to attain good lighting.
Daylight is perfect for still life photos. The temperature of daylight can be different. It depends on the time you have chosen for your shoot. The combination of warm colors with warm light creates a unique atmosphere in the photo. Using them together, we can get a cozy and homely environment. When cold light is used with cold colors it provides a quite different feel. The objects in the photo look sharper and more expressive then. It can be perfect for the beauty and fashion industry.
If for some reason, you can’t resort to this tip and implement it to attain the desired effect, you can do it on the post-production stage. In this case, neutral light is the best option as it can be changed the way you wish afterward. Light from a large window with diffuser panels or transparent white curtains can make a good job. When light is diffused without distortion of colors, it delivers natural, subtle shadows that look great on the photo.
If you create a flat-lay image, you need plenty of artificial light. It is recommended to apply a neutral color temperature that reaches 5500K. There are professional lamps for this purpose, either continuous or strobe lights. You can use special equipment to diffuse the light such as softboxes and other light diffusers. These items help to reduce the contrast in the shadows, not distracting the viewers from the product. Their use can alleviate the post-production procedure.
Tips for flat-lay product photography
Since flat lay is a photograph it should adhere to the basic rules of photography and composition when creating the product. There should be a focal point for your design on a photo even when items are just scattered on it. Much depends on the effect you want to produce with your photo. Select the surface that serves as a backdrop depending on the goal. There are several tricks that help to make the accent on the main product, arranging other items on the photo for versatility only. A professional photographer can divert attention from additional stuff on the flat lay photo. If you want to focus the attention of viewers on the product, it should be centered and displayed in full size. The contrast level should be natural. The best solution, in this case, is to choose white paper as a backdrop. Also, a backlit backdrop can do the job well. Here are some other helpful tips to follow:
- Some photographers apply a still-life photography approach and add some flat-lay props to the background. It adds some versatility to the photo and makes it more interesting as it discloses additional meaning you want to convey. The detail can just refresh the photo without giving some meaning to it.
- The use of different textures and colors on the background produces a great impression showing aesthetics and adding a lifestyle feel to the picture.
- Light the product evenly to avoid deep shadows on the picture and provide the quality demonstration of all details.
- Set the white balance.
- The focal length should exceed 35 mm. not to distort the product and preserve the proportions.
- Apply the thirds rule that works great in still life. It gives freedom to the photographer as he/she arranges the items on the surface. According to this classic photography technique, the item is placed in the right third or left thirds of an image, while two-thirds remain open.
- If you want to make your photo look more authentic, place the product to show its movement. For instance, you can open the buttons, roll up the sleeves or fold the clothes to preserve the natural look. A few adjustments made to the garment can produce the effect of a three-dimensional image. It helps to produce a visual image in the mind of a shopper that brings to better sales. Look at the case of our photography studio below. The apparel is not rigid when you use a casual and relaxed style.
Challenges that arise during the flat lay clothing photoshoot
Lack of customers’ trust can undermine e-commerce business and ruin merchants who sell online. About two-thirds of customers refuse to buy the product without touching it first. How can this problem be solved? Partially with high-quality product photography. A professional photographer can make product photos to create the feel of the textures. Showing the texture of the material, the photographer helps customers to employ all senses. They can’t feel the texture physically but can imagine it, therefore, properly photographed products matter much. Right lighting plays an essential role when the texture is displayed. The diffusion of light makes the shadows soft. Looking at the shadows, shoppers get information about the softness or, on the contrary, rigidness of the material and its ability to crease.
How to display the texture in the picture? We recommend directing the light from the side that reveals the texture. When this technique is applied, it creates the intricate play of shadows and light. Displaying tiny grooves between the threading, the lighting underlines the weave of the textile. The lamp shouldn’t be directed at a straight angle or be at the same height as the camera. Use a different angle to light the product. You can widen the angle from the top or from the side of the product.
Sometimes merchants rely too much on Photoshop and don’t prepare apparel for the shoot, while it may look awful after storing and transporting. Though post-production editing is very helpful, it can’t remove all problems. Photoshop should be used to add final touches and correct colors. The photographer should prepare the product for a shoot, then capture the item perfectly before the post-production stage.
Wrong editing can also create problems for merchants. The most frequent mistakes have to do with the cropping, backgrounds, wrong display of colors, and alignment of items on the photos. Try to stick to an identical look on flat-lay photos. Consistency is very important for a great result in e-commerce. Create a standard set of specifications and stick to it. Well-aligned inventory looks more attractive for customers. Such photos look professional and accurate. Identical cropping and backgrounds create a seamless experience for online shopping. Choosing the same editing scheme can also save you much time. As for the backgrounds, white and light gray backgrounds work best for e-commerce goals. The visitors are not distracted by the background and focus on the product when shopping online.
People love the immediate appeal and distinct look of items on the flat-lay photo. The trend is supported by e-commerce sites and businesses. This is explicable as creative, unique photos can perfectly capture attention. Since it’s a simple way to create an eye-catching style that doesn’t require huge expenditures, you can start creating your flat lays right now. If you face some problems, our photography studio is always ready to make attractive photos of your products in flat-lay style.