We challenged styling juggernauts Jason Grant (@mr_jason_grant
), Roslyn Daroza (@ripejournal
) and Tara Whiteman (@taramilktea
) to create three kinds of holiday flat lays: Australian Christmas, Summer Food and Road Trip. We gave them a Canon PowerShot G9 X
and a mountain of props; the rest was up to them.
They each shared their top tips for flat lay success too. Watch and learn, folks.
Pick a theme
According to Jason Grant, "it always pays to have a theme, or at least a common link". He's "a fan of mixing angles and straight lines".
Roslyn from Ripe Journal likes to "use key pieces and themes". She says it's best to "choose a specific item to highlight your theme and surround it strategically with the other pieces. Adding quirky and unique objects such as keepsakes helps create a story and adds a point of difference. Also, make sure the items you pick look good from above".
Tara of TaraMilkTea also recommends having a key purpose or theme; "try creating a road trip inspired flat lay, or a Christmas lunch flat lay. I find that flat-laying my objects prior to travelling helps be remember what I need to pack!"
Get up high
Tara suggests standing on something to get the right perspective, "use a step or stool, or even a chair!" She says "height is important for a good flat lay, make sure you can safely get above your flat lay, otherwise you might not able to see what you are shooting".
Roslyn recommends shooting from above, "a good flatly is one taken directly from above, birds eye view style. Too short? There's no shame in using a chair or step stool to get a good overhead shot of your objects. Okay, maybe a little shame, if you’re in public".
"Move things around and try different positions until the composition feels just right. Play with shapes, mix it up with round and square shapes for a more dynamic flat lay," says Jason.
Tara likes to use props that are small to "make the flat lay look more detailed. If you want to include a large item, make sure there are only one or two, and make it the hero piece of the shot".
Roslyn likes to "use a variety of backgrounds and play with different textures: wood, linen, concrete, marble...either way, pick one that compliments or provides a good contrast to ensure that your image pops".
The light needs to be right
"Adequate lighting is essential to create a good flat lay. Avoid shooting in direct sunlight or at times when there will be harsh shadows. Afternoon window light in Summer is one of my favourite times to flat lay. I find flat laying at night to be one of the hardest times to get a good shoot," says Tara.
Jason shoots in natural light where possible, "I avoid shooting outside in the middle of the day, as the sun is too strong and created harsh shadows".
Roslyn also rates good lighting as an important consideration, "to get the best results, photograph in natural light. Sometimes a simple window is all you need to create beautifully diffused light. Lighting from the back or side will create dimension and can highlight the textures in the photo".
Less is more
"Don’t over complicate it, sometimes less is more. The overall shot should look somewhat effortless, so play around, add, remove and rearrange until you’re happy," says Ros.
"It’s all about the edit, its better to start with more than not enough, but sometimes it what you leave out that makes the best edit," says Jason.