(Formal warning that I am about to say the word “flatlay” at least 100 times in this post. I’m sorry if it is annoying, but either forgive the fact that there isn’t a synonym for it, or turn it into a drinking game. Whichever is easiest for you.)
Like anyone else on Instagram, I’m just trying have fun posting photos without hawking a promo for a weight loss tea that only leads to IBS. After getting into the blogging game a few years ago, I quickly learned that a low of growth can come from Instagram, and to make on the ‘Gram* (*I thought youths called Instagram this for short. They don’t.), you gotta perfect the flatlay. Essentially, a flatlay is just a picture of items strategically placed on a surface. I’m not sure how, when, or why this became the “thing” to do on social media, but man if it isn’t my favorite hashtag to peruse on Instagram! I love seeing how creative people can get simply just by arranging things a certain way. Here’s a few tips and tricks I’ve gathered from the masters of the flatlay on IG (Okay, apparently that’s what they call it).
- Rationalize your out of control mug and candle purchases with “This would look so cute laid on it’s side with a muted filter!” Because it will. It totally will.
- Sunlight is always the best bet, but if you’re like me and natural lighting in your place is comparable to a prison cell, opt for a good old fashioned lamp. Energy efficient bulbs have the worst lighting (everything looks like it was filtered under a highlighter), so write Leonardo DiCaprio an apology letter for abandoning environmental issues and get yourself a bulb that properly illuminates and burns right through the ozone.
- Choosing a prop can be fun, but if you’re struggling with what to use when in doubt throw in a pair of glasses. Both on your face and Instagram scream “I know what I’m doing.”
- Everyone loves a good white backdrop, but not everyone has a giant craftsman table from Pottery Barn. Life hack it with a matte poster board. Plus now that you’re an adult you don’t have to worry about your Dad folding it and leaving a big crease in the middle. (RIP 7th grade Exxon Valdez presentation)
- Don’t overcrowd your flatlay. Just pick a few key items and arrange them in a purposeful disarray. One item titled off the side there, and another on the opposite end to balance it out. I’m also just now realizing that “Purposeful Disarray” would have been a great band name for an all girl early 2000’s emo garage band. What a missed opportunity.
- Use the seasons to your advantage. Is it summer? Cool go take a photo in the grass! Is it Autumn? Great, go get a leaf from the backyard and throw it in there! However, both of these scenarios involve potential ant bites, so play at your own risk.
- If your flat lay also involves the classic “legs outstretched over a white rug and cup of coffee in the other hand” (i.e. showing off your leggings or coffee cup (See?! You need another mug!)), either embarrassingly ask a friend or partner to hover over you with your phone and take the photo, or invest in arm bone extensions or a selfie stick, because it is stupid hard to take a photo overhead that doesn’t end up being nowhere near your legs, or outrageously blurry due to shakiness because you’ve held your arm over your head from 20 minutes trying to get it right.
- In lieu of just a plain surface, place a blanket, a decorative towel, or maybe even a patterned shower curtain underneath your items for an added layer of color or texture. Yeah, an ideal world we would all have access to sheets of fabric to use as a fun backdrop, but neither you or I were born into the Michael’s or Joann’s crafts dynasty, so that’s a dream we’ll have to let go.
If you ever need some flatlay inspiration, I highly recommend the #flatlay hashtag on Instagram, but some of my favorite accounts/pros include: Helene In Between, Blue Eyed Biblio, Evie Bookish, Cambria Joy, and Flatlays. Also feel free to follow along with me on my Instagram as I shamelessly attempt to perfect the flatlay!
What are your favorite Instagram accounts?